The last few days I’ve had a really, really terrible cold. My head was full, my sinuses ached, and I had a deep, raspy cough. Lovely. It was time to break out the steam treatments!
Now I’m all in favor of modern medicine. I say a prayer of thanks every time I have a migraine and am able to stop in in it’s tracks with my prescription medication. When I have a cold or a fever or another ailment, I have absolutely no problem using conventional, over the counter medications like decongestants, expectorants, and pain/inflammation reducers as necessary. By all means if you are sick, see your physician and get professional advice!
On the other hand, I’m also quite happy to use older home remedies that work. One of those is an old fashioned steam treatment.
It’s a simple procedure–you just lean over a bowl of steaming hot water and breathe in the steam! Of course there are refinements. Tenting yourself with a towel or cloth concentrates the steam and creates a more effective treatment. Essential oils or herbs can be added to the water.
How does it work? The combination of the heat and the moisture loosen up and thin the phlegm and mucus in your nose, sinuses and chest. The moist air is easier on your breathing and better for your lungs. Even WebMD recommends steam inhalation as a home remedy for colds and flus.
To do a steam treatment you need a way to boil water, a large bowl and a towel that you can tent over your head and the bowl. Personally I like to add some essential oils–Lavender (which smells good and is thought to be good for headaches), Eucalyptus (the main ingredient in those congestion chest rubs) and Tea Tree (a well known anti microbial). I use about 2 drops of each. Then I pour in the hot water, create a tent with a flour sack towel and breath the steam for 10 minutes.
Some “PRO” tips:
-You can control the level of heat by how close you hold your head to the steam. The intent is not to scorch yourself–if the steam feels too hot to comfortably breathe, then back up a bit, or flip open a corner of the towel until it is comfortable.
-You will sweat and drip–and hopefully your nose will start running. You may want to have some tissues handy so you can blow your nose part way through.
-I like to try to breathe through both my nose and my mouth, trying to get the steam up into my sinuses and down into my lungs.
-You can do steam treatments several times a day.
-Relax. Put on some music and set a timer and just breathe for a bit. The world won’t fall apart if you stop for 10 minutes to do something good for yourself!