By contributing writer Stacy K. of A Delightful Home
We’ve all been there…
Stuffed up nose, jam-packed sinuses, honking and snorting when you try to breathe freely…
Although relieving these issues naturally is often challenging, an herbal steam is one effective home remedy for congestion you can try, without having to reach into the medicine cabinet. I find the steam is comforting as well; which is a bonus when you are feeling ill.
Herbal steams can be prepared in a variety of ways, and you can use fresh or dried herbs.
Usually, herbs are added to hot water and the steam inhaled. This seems to be the most effective method, however, it is possible to create an herbal steam in the shower.
Herbal steams need not be restricted to just a few herbs, as a wide variety of herbs work well to aid in clearing congestion.
I will begin by describing the three methods and then share a number of recipes.
How to Create an Herbal Steam
The Bowl Method
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. All you need to do is place fresh or dried herbs in a heat proof bowl, then pour hot water over the top.
In general you will need about one handful of dried herbs or two handfuls of fresh herbs to one pint of hot water. (This does not need to be exact.)
Water should be distilled or purified since any impurities or chemicals in water will be inhaled in the steam.
Before pouring water over the herbs, heat to boiling. Let cool briefly before adding to the herbs.
Be sure the bowl is on a sturdy surface and away from children or pets. Carefully lower your face so it is over the water and place a towel over your head to make a type of steaming tent. (You will most likely need to close your eyes.)
Inhale steam for 15-20 minutes.
It is important that you lower the face over the water slowly to avoid eye irritation.
If herbs are not available, this steaming technique can be used with water alone. It will not provide the same level of relief, but will still ease congestion.
Herbs for Congestion
Eucalyptus – use approximately 1/2 cup fresh or 1/3 cup dried. The oils from the plant will be released in the hot water and the steam is very helpful in supporting the respiratory system.
Thyme – use approximately 1/2 cup fresh thyme or 1/4 cup dried.
Pine Needles – Use approximately 1/2 cup of pine needles (or just snip off a few inches of a pine branch).
Peppermint – Use approximately 1 cup fresh peppermint leaves or 1/3 cup dried, or 2 or 3 peppermint tea bags.
Herbs can be used alone or mixed together. Eucalyptus and peppermint make a wonderful combination.
Also consider adding calming or soothing herbs, such as chamomile and lavender, to help with general well-being.
Extra Benefit of Herbal Steams
One extra benefit worth noting is that herbal steams are also effective in cleansing the skin. I recommend herbal steams before applying face masks since they open pores and leave skin ready to absorb the nourishing elements of the face mask. Change up the herbs used to create a beautifying steam, rather than one that fights congestion. Here is an example of such a steam: Rose and Chamomile Facial Steam.
Stacy is a preacher’s wife and mom to three children. She is slightly obsessed with DIY projects, especially when they involve herbs or natural body care. She blogs at A Delightful Home, where she shares tips on natural, family living and is the author of Simple Scrubs to Make and Give and DIY Face Masks and Scrubs.