Steam inhalation therapy opens up congested sinuses and lung passageways, allowing you to breathe easier, discharge mucus and faster healing. It is helpful in relieving congestion from a variety of respiratory and sinus conditions; such as, allergies, bronchitis, common cold and sinus infections. You may use water only; however, to enhance the effects of the treatment add herbal oils or dried or fresh herbs.
To prepare a steam inhalation treatment, you may place the hot water in either a pot or a sink; which ever method you find most comfortable and convenient. If using dried or fresh herbs, you should use an enameled or glass pot instead of a sink to hold the water. Whichever method you use, take several deep, full breaths to clear lung congestion after each steam inhalation treatment. Repeat the treatment as needed.
Procedure For Using a Pot:
If you are using dried or fresh herbs, be sure to use glass or an enameled pot only. A metal pot can cause herbs to lose some of their medicinal properties. If using water only, any type of pot will do.
Fill a wide pot with water and bring to a boil. Then remove the pot from the heat source, place it on a heatproof pad and place at a convenient height for the treatment.
Once the water stops bubbling, add dried or fresh herbs or several drops of essential oil to the water. Allow the water to cool slightly. Then hold your head over the pot and breathe in the steam; keeping your face far enough from the water so that the steam does not burn or irritate your skin (about 18 inches).
To capture the steam, drape a towel over your head and the pot creating a tent. Five to ten minutes of steam should be as much as needed to clear your congestion. You may however choose to extend the session.
Procedure For Using a Sink:
Using a sink to hold the water, fill it with very hot water. Add 2 to 5 drops of herbal oil. Keep the water hot and steamy during the treatment by allowing a small continuous trickle of hot water to flow into the basin. Your sink should have an overflow outlet to prevent the water from spilling over. Add a few more drops of the herbal oil as needed, as the water will become diluted.
Hold your face over the sink and breathe in the steam. Five to 10 minutes of steam should be sufficient enough to clear your congestion, but you may choose to extend the session. Be sure to keep your face far enough from the water so that the steam does not burn or irritate your skin. This is especially important when a child is being treated, as a child's skin is more sensitive to heat.
The following herbs are anti-catarrhal; actions that eliminate or prevent the formation of mucous. They may be taken in the form of capsules, teas or oils used in herbal steam inhalation.
Anise, black cohosh, black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, coltsfoot, comfrey, eyebright, ginger, gotu kola, mullein, peppermint, sage, saw palmetto, thyme, wild cherry bark and yerba santa.
The following herbs are expectorants that make it easier to excrete mucus from the lungs, sinuses and throat. They may be used individually or in combination with one another or in combination with the demulcent herbs (listed below).
Camphor, coltsfoot, comfrey, elecampane, eucalyptus, fenugreek, garlic, horseradish, licorice, lobelia, mullein, pleurisy root, rosemary, thyme, and yerba santa.
The demulcent herbs contain substances that soften and relieve irritation of the mucous membranes. They may be used individually or in combination with one another or in combination with the expectorant herbs (listed above).
All herbal supplements should only be used in amounts typically recommended for medicinal purposes and you should always consult with a health professional first, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or taking prescription medications.
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