Steam Inhalations for Colds and Coughs
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Cindy
Posted on: February 27, 2007

I am a mother of six, who doesn’t go to the doctor’s very often.

My two youngest boys (5 and 7) are my concern. The whole family can experience a common cold, but these two will cough out of control. The 7 year seems to be growing out of it. I will do what I can, but those poor lungs get irritated, and chest infections have sometimes set in. One treatment at the emergency room with ventalin ALWAYS gets them through though. Can I have them inhale an herbal preparation? Steam?

Steam inhalations are very effective in reducing the symptoms of colds. They moisten the bronchial airways and loosen mucus, making it easier to expel. Steam can be used on its own, or herbs or essential oils can be added to the water.

To make an inhalation using fresh or dried herbs, make a strong tea of the herb, pour into a bowl, drape a towel around your head and the bowl to keep the steam in, and inhale slowly and deeply for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat daily from the first sign of a cold until all symptoms have disappeared. Often, a cold can be completely avoided if inhalations are used at the first sign. It is important to make sure that the whole body is kept warm during and after this procedure: use socks and shoes or slippers on the feet, and wrap up in a blanket for 30 minutes afterward.

If you are using essential oils, add 2-3 drops to a bowl of boiling water for adult use. For a child, use only one drop and test it yourself to make sure it is not too hot or too strong. The use of many essential oils is contraindicated in pregnancy and small children.

Eucalyptus works strongly on the respiratory system, is anti-bacterial and antiviral.

Thyme is antibacterial and antiseptic.

Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, calming and antiseptic.

Peppermint is antiseptic and promotes sweating to eliminate toxins and reduce a high temperature.

Keeping the home air moist with a humidifier can help keep the airways moistened. Breathing exercises help to strengthen the lungs to avoid respiratory problems.

Back to Medicinal Herbs and Their Uses | Q & A Index

Copyright © 1997-2023 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.