4 Ways to Treat Croup at Home

mullein infusion croup

Last week, we had a croupy cough sneak it’s way into our house.  You know that sound?  Like a little baby seal barking?  That is how I know we have the croup.

Fortunately, croup generally sounds worse than it is.  The barking cough sounds terrible, and it does not help that the cough itself tends to act up in the middle of the night when you may be worried about your breathing, or the breathing of your child!  But rest assured that most cases do not require emergency care.  In fact, even conventional health websites admit that home treatment is most effective. (source)

So when the croup hits your house, what should you do?  There are several remedies you can use, including a humble little herb called mullein.

Why Should I Use Mullein?

Mullein leaf enjoys a reputation as an herbal remedy for respiratory ailments. Making an infusion of mullein leaves is one of the easiest ways to utilize the traditional uses of the herb.  Mullein is very fuzzy, and tastes a bit bitter.  This means that you will need to steep the mullein for longer than a typical tea, and will benefit greatly from sweetening with honey or another natural sugar. (source)

Steeping the leaves or loose tea in boiling water extracts the active ingredients and properties from the herbs and moves them into the liquid.  Then when you strain the solids out, the medicinal and beneficial aspects of the herbs are left behind.  From mullein-infused water you can make tea, medicinal-grade infusions, and even steam to breathe for acute congestion.

mullein infusion

You can also infuse mullein into oil.  This is useful for ear infections, especially if you combine it with garlic oil. (source)

Generally, steeping for a shorter amount of time, anywhere between 5 minutes to 30 minutes, yields a sweeter tasting infusion.  After 30 minutes, between 1 to 4 hours of steeping, you can get a wonderfully potent and healing infusion, but the taste will be more bitter.

I recommend using raw honey to sweeten the stronger infusions.  It makes the resulting flavor much more pleasant.  And raw honey, especially if it is local, also imparts beneficial attributes like a myriad of vitamins and minerals, and immune-boosting anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. (source)

Equipment Needed:

Mullein Infusion for Sickness

1/2 cup organic mullein leaf
5 cups boiling water
raw honey, to taste (buy raw honey here)
slice of lemon, optional

  1. Measure out the mullein leaf into a French press or tea infuser.  Pour the boiling water over the herb.
  2. Let steep for at least 30 minutes, preferably for 2 hours or more (up to 4 hours).
  3. Strain out the tea solids and sweeten to taste with honey and lemon.  Warm up again to serve.

But What About the Croup?!

Croup generally only affects children, because the inflammation of their tiny airways makes the voicebox, windpipe and breathing tubes swell up.  While this makes it difficult for your child to breathe, the barking cough itself doesn’t need to be cause for seeking out emergency care. Common croup behaviors include sitting up in the middle of the night to breathe better, having symptoms worsen during the night and improve during the day, and the telltale barking cough. (source)

When I decide whether or not to take my child to an urgent care or emergency room, whether they have croup or another illness, I watch for genuine signs of respiratory distress: rib retractions, a wheezing sound when breathing in, signs of worsening health instead of improvement, or any symptom that sets off my intuition that we need to seek professional treatment.

That said, treating the barking cough itself can be easily achieved with natural remedies and home treatment.  Once you have your mullein infusion made, you are ready to take on the croup with other household remedies.

mullein infusion with lemonHere are my top 4 ways to fight croup at my house.

  1. Mullein infusion: Drink the mullein tea warm, with plenty of raw honey, lemon, and even crushed garlic.  The mullein may help with congestion, airway opening, and general lung health.
  2. Warm mist humidifier: A warm mist humidifier is one of the best things you can invest in for a good nights sleep during a visit from the croup, especially if your child has coughing fits in the middle of the night that wake them up.  The warm mist seems to help soothe the cough and get it from a dry bark to a more moist, productive cough.
  3. Cold night air: Counterintuitively, it also may help to go outside into the cold night air for about 15 minutes in the middle of a croup coughing fit.  If the air is helping, you will hear improvement in the cough.
  4. Elderberry syrupElderberry syrup is rich in vitamin C, and anti-oxidants that help your immune system when fighting off a cold, infection, or virus.  I make this recipe and usually use camu camu instead of the rosehips.

Most of all, just be in tune with your body and your child’s body.  Get treatment and help from medical professionals when needed.  I am a big proponent of blending modern medicine with natural remedies into a holistic approach to vibrant health.

You can also see my 18 ways to kick a cold for more ideas on how to support the immune systems living at your house.  Take care of yourselves!  

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


Get Notified Of New Posts

Add your email address here to receive email updates each time I publish a new post or recipe. This makes life a lot easier when you don’t have time to look me up. I’ll deliver my latest to your inbox, so you won’t miss a thing!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. We steep a tea (for several hours if not all day) made from mullein, echinacea & elderberry. Then we add raw honey to taste, sometimes concentrated cherry juice as well if a fever is involved to bring down inflammation. Works like a charm! Keeps cough nice & loose & productive! I LOVE mullein!!! (Summertime mullein use- we make a poultice for swelled bug bites: stops the itching & swelling almost instantly)

  2. You need to strain the infusion through a coffee filter because there are “little hairs” in the water that are highly irritating to the esophagus.

  3. Interesting timing. I just learned about mullein and have started using it for my 16yo daughter. She spent seven months last year sick with a cough. Yes, seven months! Our DNP muscle tested her (positive) for mycoplasma and also diagnosed her with sports-induced asthma. She tried two separate heavy rounds of antibiotics (not our normal standard of care), prescribed inhalers (again, way different than our normal care), we used every supplement and tea and whatever, including colloidal silver, which is purported to work well for mycoplasma, but nothing seemed to make her better until I took her in to see an accupuncturist. After the first treatment she was able to sleep through the night for the first time in months. Four treatments total and she was pretty much her old self. Pretty much. I took her to a pulmonologist this fall, to cover my bases and make sure we weren’t missing something. He said, asthma too.
    My daughter is very athletic and very conscientious about her diet and has not needed to use an inhaler for months but I really wanted to find some way to help restore vigor to her lungs. I found this youtube video with Susun Weed on the subject of mullein: http://pinterest.com/pin/218143175672769227/
    She says that mullein is THE lung herb but also that milk is THE lung food. So I have been brewing up infusions and my daughter has been drinking it, just once or twice a day.
    Another funny thing is that this same daughter decided she did not like milk anymore when she was about 8 or 10, somewhere in there, and stopped drinking it. Then when we stopped eating breakfast cereals her milk consumption was limited to yogurt, kefir and cheese. We started getting milk from a new farm this past October and the milk is SO much better that this same girl has started drinking it again. And likes it.
    I am hopeful she will have a complete recovery, for the first time in the past year!

  4. Thank you for the recipe! I am off to make some for my daughter who woke up this morning with a cough that sounded like croup. She was crying and saying she couldn’t breathe. I took her to the doctor’s, and he just felt that she had a virus and said her lungs sounded good, but her oxygen was a little low. He didn’t feel that we needed to do anything more than treat the symptoms. So, I am happy that we can use herbs instead! 🙂

Speak Your Mind