With a history of use that dates back at least 3,500 years—the first historical mention of this therapy was found on an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll—steam inhalation is a long-standing home remedy for colds and sinus issues.
When you’re sick, sessions of inhaling steam from a vaporizer device or a bowl of hot water may help loosen up mucus in the lungs and sinuses, help with congestion, ease a sore throat, + improve voice hoarseness.
Medicinal Properties of Steam Inhalation
Primarily, the medicinal effect of this at-home therapy is to ease the symptoms of illnesses that cause congestion, runny nose, and sore throat, such as the common cold, sinus infection, croup, bronchiolitis, bronchitis, seasonal allergies.
Key Benefits for Cold + Sinus Issues
- As a sleep aid: Ensuring that you get enough sleep is essential for combatting colds + sinus infections. Your body needs rest as it fights the illness. Steam inhalation at night can be instrumental in getting you relaxed and ready for bed.
- Treat hoarseness: Your voice gets hoarse + haggard when your vocal cords are irritated. This can happen due to respiratory illness, exposure to smoke, too much singing, or loud talking. The steam enters these structures, rehydrating them + improving their mobility and function.
- Ease sore throat: The clinical evidence is mixed on whether steam inhalation actually relieves sore throat. However, it’s a long-standing technique to ease the pain and swelling caused by the inflammation of tissues in the throat.
- Manage congestion: Inhaling steam may also help with congestion as it can loosen mucus in the lungs, throat, + sinuses. Getting rid of that mucus helps ease pressure + makes breathing easier.
- Rehydrate nasal passages: Dry + irritated sinuses, especially nasal passages, can also accompany common colds + other respiratory infections. In addition to discomfort, they can lead to bloody noses. Sessions of inhalation bring moisture to these areas, which helps relieve symptoms.
Simple Steam Inhalation Recipe
(using herbs often found in your kitchen pantry)
1-2 Tablespoons for thyme, rosemary, basil, eucalyptus and/or peppermint
1-2 quarts boiling water
towel for tenting
- Add your selected herbs to the bowl + top with boiling water
- Allow water to cool for 2-3 minutes
- Then tent your head with the towel and lower your face over the bowl. DO NOT COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE WATER!
- With your head covered, deeply breathe in the steam. Alternate between breathing through your nose + breathing through your mouth.
- Steam for 10-15 minutes + repeat as often as desired.
- You can also use these same ingredients to turn your bath tub into a vapor tub. 😍