Steam inhalation is an effective way to remedy respiratory problems such as chest congestion, sinusitis, bronchitis and bronchial cough. Inhaling steam is easy to do and very cost-effective: simply bring a pot of water to boil on your stove, then stand over it and drape a towel over your head and shoulders.
Be careful not to get too close to the steam, and that the towel does not touch the flame or burner on your stove. Try to breathe through your nose if you have nasal and sinus problems; if you are too stuffed up, breathe through your mouth with your lips pursed. The steam will help keep nasal passages moistened and relieve some of the aches and pains associated with respiratory problems.
You can enhance the effectiveness of steam inhalation with aromatic herbs. Some traditional favorites are sage and eucalyptus, which can make the steam more soothing. These herbs are also antibacterial, giving aromatics the chance of reducing risk of secondary bacterial infections, like sinusitis that can follow viral respiratory conditions. You can add sage or eucalyptus to the boiling water by the whole leaf or as an essential oil – try a teaspoon of the oil, or a small handful of the leaves. Both are available at herb shops and natural food grocers.