A guide to treating croup with Mullein

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Croup is a common respiratory infection that fortunately isn’t that dangerous but it tends to scare the crap out of parents due to how badly it sounds. Croup affects children more than adults because their air pipes and other respiratory organs are smaller than ours and more prone to face complications from swelling. It causes a horrible cough that keeps you up at night and doesn’t allow for any rest. We just had a case of croup make its way through our immediate family which is what inspired me to write this post.

Most croup cases aren’t serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital and symptoms can be relatively easily treated at home. But I understand very well how the loud cough can be distressing to hear for a parent and if you are genuinely worried then do take your child to the doctor so that you can relieve your anxiety. If I notice my child is having serious breathing difficulty or his condition worsens suddenly, I will also not hesitate and have a medical professional check him out. But otherwise, I am sticking with homemade treatments.

So how exactly do you treat croup at home? Here are my four top remedies, in the order of use frequency.

  1. Mullein infusions: Mullein is a herb that is very helpful in treating croup. I prepare my mullein infusions with some raw honey and freshly squeezed lemon.
  2. Mist humidifier: a humidifier that releases warm mist is a life-saver at night when your child is suffering from a bad coughing fit. The warm mist is soothing for the dry throat and helps the airways unclog.
  3. Cold air: this one is a bit counterintuitive but I swear that when it works, it works very well. If my son has a coughing attack that won’t stop no matter what, I will take him outside to breathe in the crisp fresh air for about 15 minutes. Sometimes the improvement can be heard immediately.
  4. Elderberry: Elderberry syrup is full of minerals and vitamins that help your body fight off diseases like common colds and croup. The amount of vitamin C and antioxidants by itself is enough to make it worth drinking elderberry syrup every day during flu season.

In this post, I want to focus on the first item from the list above: mullein.

Mullein leaves have long been used as a treatment for respiratory ailments, croup included. Mullein aids in relieving congestions by breaking down the mucus and soothing the inflamed throat (source).

To take advantage of mullein’s beneficial properties, you need to first make mullein-infused water. You do that by steeping the leaves in boiling water. That way, the properties of the herbs will be carried by the water as well. Take the solid leaves out and you will have mullein-infused water. From that water, you can then make mullein tea and other infusions. You can even put in a steamer and breathe it in directly which might help with severe congestions.

Now, you should know that mullein leaves can be a bit bitter. The longer you leave them in, the more bitter your mullein-infused water will be. But also, the longer the steeping time, the more mullein benefits will be transported to the water.

The absolute shortest duration is 5 minutes but I would definitely leave the leaves in for longer. Anywhere beyond 30 minutes will result in a rather bitter-tasting infusion. To get the most benefits, the leaves should be steeped for up to 4 hours.

To counter the bitter taste, I use raw honey. The infusion tastes much better then and even children won’t complain about drinking it. Not to mention that raw honey has plenty of immune system boosting properties on its own (source).

Another method of utilizing mullein is turning the infusion into an oil. That oil can be then applied to help with ear infections(source).

Necessary equipment:

  • a tea kettle
  • a tea infuser OR a French press


  • 1/2 cup of mullein leaves
  • 5 cups of boiling water
  • a spoonful of raw honey
  • optional: a slice of lemon


  1. Put the mullein leaves into your tea infuser or French press.
  2. Pour the boiling water over the leaves.
  3. Leave to steep for at least 30 minutes or more (I usually go for about 2 hours).
  4. Remove the leaves so that you are left with only the mullein-infused water.
  5. Sweeten the infusion with honey and put the lemon slice in.
  6. Warm it up again before serving.

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