This flu season has been anything but gentle. And for many victims, symptoms linger long after the worst of it has passed, typically in the form of coughing and congestion that make breathing a task. But don't reach for the over-the-counter decongestant. Give an essential oil sinus steam a try in relieving your nasal congestion instead.
Steaming for health has been embraced by many cultures for centuries. Warm and moist air opens both nasal and bronchial passages bringing immediate and long-lasting relief from mucus congestion.
It's a simple and easy way to help move the congestion out of your body without the use of harsh pharmaceuticals. And it makes your home smell amazing!
This recipe uses pure essential oils, which are condensed essences of botanicals, but you can also use the fresh or dried herbs in a steam if you have them. When choosing essential oils, make sure you're getting therapeutic grade products. Most health-minded stores carry essential oils, which have many healthy benefits beyond just opening up your breathing passages. A steam is also incredible for your skin, helping to purify and pull out toxins—an added bonus!
4 cups water
3 drops of any/all of these essential oils: rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, juniper, peppermint and bergamot
In a large and wide pot, bring water to a low boil. If using whole herbs instead of essential oils, add them now (about 1/8 cup herbs in total). When water is steaming, remove from heat and add the essential oils. They will be very powerful from the heat so don't overdo it. Better to add more as needed than make it too strong. But if you do make it too potent, add more boiling water to dilute it.
Carefully set the pot on a surface such as a kitchen table so that you're able to lean directly over it while seated comfortably.
Drape a large towel over your head and over the pot to lock in the steam. Begin to take deep breaths in and out through the nose and mouth, alternating as needed. You may need to dip your head out of the steam for a breath or two every couple of minutes as it gets quite hot in there! Just keep the pot covered so the heat remains. Try to breathe in the vapors for at least 5 minutes, but 10 are recommended. Repeat as needed.
You can also use essential oils in many common humidifiers, but read the instructions first. It may also be beneficial to keep a pot of water and the essential oils simmering on the stove for a half hour to an hour. This will disinfect the air and aid in breathing for your whole house. Also try putting a stopper in the tub while you're in the shower and adding a few drops of eucalyptus or rosemary to the water.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger