bowl of water with flowers

Got the sniffles, a sore throat, blocked nose, sinusitis? One of the best decongestants is simple steam inhalation. On its own, steam is very effective. In this study, the researchers concluded: “Steam inhalation resulted in alleviation of cold symptoms and increased nasal patency in a significantly higher percentage of patients in the actively treated group than in the placebo-treated group.”

Introducing warm, moist air into the lungs and nasal passages lubricates them and increases circulation by triggering vasodilation of the blood vessels. It acts as a natural expectorant and also promotes the relaxation response which can relieve headaches and migraines. When you add certain essential oils to the mix, you can increase the decongestant and relaxing effects of steam along with the antiviral and antibacterial properties of oils.

Eucalyptus is probably the most useful essential oil for respiratory problems but chamomile and lavender are good for headaches and relaxation and peppermint is great for upper respiratory tract congestion as well as sinus problems. You can use 1 drop of peppermint essential to 2 -3 drops of eucalyptus oil.

Pine, rosemary, and tea tree essential oils are also very useful for colds, flu and congestion.

What you need:

  • About 6 cups or less of filtered water
  • Big bowl
  • 3 – 4 drops essential oil
  • Large towel

What you do:

  • Boil the water in a kettle or pot on the stove
  • Pour it into the bowl
  • Add essential oil
  • Drape the towel over your head and shoulders and lean over the bowl so that the towel forms a tent, trapping the steam from the hot water underneath. Be careful not to get so close that you burn yourself though.
  • Inhale for as long as is comfortable or until the water cools
  • Repeat every few hours if necessary