Gordolobo Tea Uses & Benefits

Gordolobo tea is a herbal tea made from the leaves of gordolobo (mullein), a plant with woolly stems and leaves. The leaves are then dried and used to make a tea that’s traditionally used to soothe and suppress coughs and other respiratory problems. But do they go far beyond relieving coughing? Let’s find out…

Gordolobo Origins

Gordolobo Plant
Gordolobo Plant

The mullein plant is a flowering plant endemic in certain parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. For centuries, it had been part of ancient medicine in various cultures.

Since the ancient Greek period, mullein was already in vogue. Dioscorides, a noted Greek botanist, physician, and pharmacologist of the era, had recommended using the herb for lung diseases and breathing problems. Mullein was believed to ward off witches and evil spirits in the Middle Ages and was considered one of 23 important healing herbs in medieval Jewish medical practice. By the late 1800s, mullein became a popular treatment for tuberculosis in Europe, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

In Mexico and parts of Latin America, mullein is known as the “gordolobo” plant and is ground and boiled into tea to remedy coughing and other respiratory conditions.

Uses & Benefits

Gordolobo Tea

Drinking gordolobo tea has been linked to several potential health benefits due to its antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, 

Mullein has the following active compounds:

  • Saponins – contains antimicrobial properties, guarding the body against fungi, bacteria, and viruses. They improve the body’s immune function by promoting the production of T-cells, serving as antioxidants, and relieving oxidative stress. It’s also known to decrease blood lipids, reduce the risk of cancers, and inhibit blood glucose response.
  • Flavonoids – act as antioxidant agents that help improve bodily function more efficiently while protecting against everyday toxins and stressors, which could lead to the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Its anti-inflammatory properties protect the cells from oxidative damage.
  • Phenylethanoid glycosides – naturally occurring compounds that possess antibacterial, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiobesity, antiviral, and neuroprotective properties. However, they have limited bioavailability.
  • Terpenoids – organic chemicals that contain antimicrobial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral, anti-allergenic, antispasmodic, antihyperglycemic, and immunomodulatory properties. They help defend plants against abiotic and biotic stresses and are treated as signal molecules to attract pollinating insects.
  • Tannins – water-soluble polyphenols that are present in many plant foods. They contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. They may protect against heart disease, balance blood sugar levels, cut the risk of cancers, prevent neurodegeneration, and protect the cells from oxidative damage.
  • Iridoids – boast antispasmodic, cardioprotective, choleretic, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, neuroprotective, and purgative activities. These compounds also help eliminate harmful free radicals, maintain healthy HDL cholesterol levels, increase energy, promote heart health, foster healthy brain activity, and boost the immune system,

These properties and compounds all work to:

Treat Coughing & Other Respiratory Ailments

Being an expectorant, mullein is primarily used to treat coughing by expelling phlegm (mucus) settled in the chest or the throat. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s especially effective at relieving pneumonia, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Similarly, it can also relieve bronchitis, colds, sneezing, and wheezing. 

Reduces Gastrointestinal Problems

Drinking a warm cup of gordolobo tea can help clear the digestive system and soothe gastrointestinal problems like stomach aches and constipation. This tea is even used to treat other disturbances, including diarrhea, anorexia, and nausea.

Relieves Viral Infections

Due to its antiviral properties, one study found mullein effective in combating the effects of flu, though further research is still needed to boost the claim, while another also found it effective in herpes. On the one hand, mullein promotes perspiration to help the body eliminate toxins through the skin, which helps treat the fever that can accompany cold and flu symptoms. 

Helps With Gout Problems

Since mullein is rich in anti-inflammatory properties, drinking gordolobo tea can help relieve joint pain and gout symptoms, the latter being the condition where urate crystals accumulate in the joints, causing inflammation and intense pain around them. 

Treats Bursitis

Mullein’s anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve bursitis, a condition that affects the bursae, where are the sacs that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near the joints become inflamed. However, instead of drinking the gordolobo tea, it is applied to the affected areas with a soaked cloth.

Heals Wounds

Mullein leaves’ antibacterial properties can benefit your skin and be used as a compress for external hemorrhoids, cold sores, wounds, and burns. As with bursitis, the tea is also generously applied to the affected areas with a cloth instead of being drunk. 

Side Effects

Although there haven’t been any known reports of serious side effects associated with drinking gordolobo tea, it’s still prudent to learn about the ups and downs of an herb before using it to avoid health risks.

However, there have been a few reported cases of people experiencing dermatitis (allergic skin rash) after contact with certain species of mullein.

The root and seeds contain poisonous components. For this reason, neither roots nor seeds should be used for medicinal purposes. Seeds of certain species of mullein are said to be toxic, such as the N. phlomoides variant, which contains a type of poisonous saponin and is considered mildly narcotic. Mullein seeds also contain rotenone, a potentially toxic substance used in insecticides/pesticides.

Possible Interactions

Mullein has been reported to slow down the effects of antidiabetic drugs. It can also interact with diuretics, which help rid your body of salt and water and lose potassium from the body. On the other hand, it can intensify the effects of muscle relaxants and lithium. At any rate, one should consult with a doctor first before drinking gordolobo tea simultaneously with other medications.

Serving Suggestion

You can use store-bought gordolobo tea bags or dried loose leaves to make gordolobo tea. Pour 1 cup (or 2) of hot water over 2 teaspoons of dried gordolobo leaves or flowers. Let it steep for about 5-10 minutes before drinking. You can drink up to three cups a day. 

If you’re not fond of the taste, that’s okay! You can also use gordolobo as a steam inhalant, especially if you have a cough, colds, congestion, or asthma. To do this, boil the leaves in water for 5 minutes and inhale the steam. Cover yourself with a towel to inhale as much steam as possible.

Additional Tips:

  • You can also use a tea infuser or a teapot with an infuser. 
  • It is important to strain the tea before drinking it, as the bits of dried leaves may irritate the throat. Use a cheesecloth or a strainer to do so.
  • You can add raw honey, cinnamon,  dried spearmint, or a lemon wedge to add some flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can drinking gordolobo tea cause an allergic reaction?

Certain species of mullein may cause contact dermatitis, a skin reaction that causes itching and rashes. So be sure to do a patch skin test before handling mullein leaves. The bits of leaves can also irritate the throat when drunk accidentally, so be sure to strain the leaves properly before drinking the tea.

What happens when you drink too much gordolobo tea?

While mullein tea is generally considered safe and has few side effects, one should still drink the tea as directed without going in excess to avoid them.

Does drinking gordolobo tea have sedative effects?

The whole mullein plant possesses slightly sedative and narcotic properties. Its seeds are mostly used as a narcotic and contain saponins that have long been used as a fish poison, while the dried leaves are sometimes smoked to relieve the respiratory mucus membranes’ irritation and for hacking coughs.

Is it safe for drinking for pregnant and breastfeeding women?

As of date, there is no research available on mullein tea’s safety for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Thus, they should consult with their healthcare professional before trying it out to avoid health risks.

Final Word

The power of the mullein plant endures to this day, as the gordolobo tea continues to be a popular remedy to relieve respiratory problems and achieve other health benefits and the same time. However, one should still be wary when consuming any herb as you may be sensitive to its ingredients, and they shouldn’t be used in lieu of treatments prescribed by your doctor.

But considering the benefits it packs and its generally safe reputation, we can safely conclude that drinking gordolobo tea is worth the buck and can make a difference to your health.