Steam Inhalation

Herbal steams are used to deliver the medicinal qualities of herbs and essential oils directly to the respiratory tract.  They hydrate, warm and decongest the mucus membranes of the nose, sinuses, and throat.  They can be used to help fight infection in these areas and the lungs, and are helpful in calming a cough.



Option 1-Tent method

Boil 2-3 cups of water and remove from heat. Add 5-10 drops of essential oil (see suggested oils below) Position yourself so that your head is above the container of water, no closer than 9 inches.  Drape a towel over your head and the container, forming a tent.  Inhale the vapor with slow deep breaths for 5-10 minutes.


Option 2-Mug method

Fill a mug ½ full of boiling water.  Add 3-5 drops of essential oils. Use hands to form a cup over nose and mug to enclose vapors. Inhale vapors for 3-5 minutes.


Option 3-Bath method

Draw a hot bath, keep door closed to keep the steam in.  Add 10-15 drops of essential oil to bath and swirl to mix. Relax in tub for 15-30 minutes taking slow, full deep breaths.


Option 4-Modified bath method

Boil water and add essential oils to the pot as in option 1.  Draw a hot bath as in option 3.  Carefully bring the pot or bowl of water into the bathroom and set by the bath.  Relax in the tub for 15-30 minutes.  Take slow deep breaths.


Option 5- Vaporizer method

Using a steam vaporizer (not humidifier) add 5-10 drops of essential oil to the well of the machine (read directions for your machine-should have a specific place for additions).  Place your head near the steam vapors and inhale for 15 minutes.  Another choice is to allow machine to run in your bedroom while you sleep.


Suggested Essential Oils

Eucalyptus-general congestion, sinus infections

Thyme-coughs, infections

Lavender-calming and soothing

Hyssop-coughs, infections

Bitter orange-antibacterial, sedating

Chamomile-coughs, colds, calming



Do not use essential oils internally without physician supervision

Do not use essential oils if you have kidney disease

Use essential oils with caution with people with epilepsy

Do not use essential oils in pregnancy

Prolonged inhalation of essential oils (several consecutive hours) of essential oils may cause headache, vertigo, nausea, lethargy, or double vision