"Here, you'll need these in the morning."
"Are you serious, a roll of paper towels?"
"You'll see, it will all come out suddenly and you'll be glad you have them."
And was she ever right! This was 25 years ago, and since that day my family turns to Verbascum thapsus to clear our chests and heads from cold symptoms and seasonal allergy infections.
West Virginia herbalist C.C. Vanmeter, of Paw Paw, totally saved my weekend road trip from Woodstock, Va., to pick up our son at camp in Pennsylvania. I was entirely clogged up, hacking and dizzy. I knew I was probably up to a couple of tight hugs and then right back to the camper, to cuddle alone with my spinning head and clogged chest. But, oh no!
"Sit down here I will make you a pot of strong mullein tea and a steam tent with a towel. After you breathe the steam deep, deep, deep, into your lungs for 20 minutes and I mean deep, you will drink the tea. You will be better tomorrow."
Every word she said was true.
Mullein is a worldwide weed, found along roadsides and in fields across our planet.
When dried, the leaves are brewed as tea or smoked as a natural decongestant and expectorant. Towering often at 7 feet tall, this floral pillar has been used as a wax-covered torch throughout history. Sweet smelling spirals of petite yellow flowers ascend to the base of massive wooly leaves. The magic is in these faded somewhat ugly looking leaves. The American Indians knew to steam and drink the tea to rid congestion. They also smoked mullein to loosen phlegm and mucus, keeping their air passages clear of infection. It worked then and it works now!
There are two tricks to success. Double - and I sincerely mean double - strain the tea through two coffee filters before drinking. There are minute fuzzy fibers in the leaves that you certainly do not need to ingest and add to your breathing problems!
Secondly, Vanmeter stresses to "breath deep, real deep." This is excellent advice and vital to ridding your body of infection. Breathe fully and try to make a deep slow crackling hacking sound. This will be in total annoyance to anyone in the area - but you just can't be bothered. Pull the steam as deep into your lungs as possible. If you follow these two directions, in about seven hours you will be recalling the paper towel introduction to this article.
Convinced? I hope so! Visit your favorite health food store and purchase a couple of ounces of fresh herb to keep on hand for yourself. Using a saucepan, make the tea two cups of mullein in four cups of boiling water. Steep for a long time - it needs to be dark and strong. Also pick up a box of mullein tea bags, which are easier, quicker and great for traveling.
Mullein tea is actually totally tasteless and quiet boring. You might want to add mint for flavor or a libation to make it more fun. You also will find that mullein is available in capsule and extract form. If taken morning, noon and night, its will assist greatly in clearing your respiratory system. Yes it's messy, but the old-fashioned steam tent and tea truly work the quickest and most thoroughly.
I have made many new best friends for life after sharing this story of naturally thinking, and you will too. You're welcome!
- Lauren d'Ablemont Ragland is a freelance writer living in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest in Randolph County. This column provides general health and natural healing information and is not specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).