Easy Effective Way to Soothe a Cough, Unstuff Sinuses, or Fight Germs
Whether you need to soothe a cough, unstuff your sinuses, or you've been around germy people and want to clear your airways steam is an easy effective way to help.
Dr.s often recommend a steamy shower to help with congestion from cold and flu and WebMD lists "Take a Steamy Shower" as one of eight tips to fight cold and flu naturally. (1)
Well it's kind of tough to jump in the shower several times a day especially if you feel crummy but you can benefit from steam by simply boiling water, adding it to a bowl, covering your head with a towel, and breathing in the vapors (just close your eyes and be careful not to burn yourself). You can also purchase steam devises but a good ole bowl of steaming water works greats. I personally prefer to use filtered water or distilled water for steaming as our tap water smells of chlorine which I find unpleasant.
Steam for 5-15 to loosen mucus and soothe airways two to three times a day. If you want to do one better add a drop of peppermint or eucaplytus or a drop or two of a respiratory blend to the bowl.
A controlled study done to evaluate the effects of a mixture of essential oils (Eucalyptus globulous, Ravansara aromatica, Pinus sylvestris, and Mentha piperita) found that by using a stream inhalation for 10 minutes, three times a day, for five days the essential oil group was consistently more improved that the steam only control group. For the oil using group their mucus was clear and pain, sense of wellness, and amount of mucus was much improved by the fifth day. (2)
You don't need a large essential oil collection to steam. Using something as simple as peppermint or eucalyptus works great -- just make sure you are purchasing a real essential oil and not a fragrance oil or cheap imitation. Since the FDA does not regulate oils some oils labeled as 100% pure may be diluted or contain synthetic ingredients. So it is important that you can verify the oil has been tested and is from a reputable source.
Another caution is to avoid irritating oils or using too much oil. I've seen FB sites that recommend steaming with oregano or using 10-12 drops of oil at a time -- yikes! Oils such as oregano, cinnamon, or clove are fantastic germ fighters but can be extremely irritating to the mucus membranes. You could end up irritating your sensitive mucus membranes instead of helping and significant research indicates that too much essential oil can actually cause cilia in your mucus membranes to "lie down" instead of doing their job of helping to clear mucus and you don't want that. So stick with just a few drops.
So if you're ready to give steaming a try here's a plan:
Boil clean, filtered water. Have on hand a glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bowl, a towel, and essential oil or blend if using (eucalytus, peppermint, a pine, or fir oil are a great start). Add the steaming water to the bowl, add a drop or two of essential oil, close your eyes, bring your face near the steam being careful not to burn yourself, cover you head with a towel and breath in the vapors for 5 to 10 minutes with tissues nearby. If you need to take a break and take your head out, cough or blow your nose do so. And when you are done steaming you can let the vapors continue to diffuse into the air.
Cautions: As mentioned above be careful with irritating oils or using too much oil. Children can be sensitive to the menthol in peppermint or cineole in eucaplytus so use just steam or a gentle oil such as lavender.
If you are suffering with stuffiness, a cough, or want to fight germs give steaming with essential oils a try. It's easy to do and you'll be amazed at how effective it can be.
1. WebMD, Eight Ways to Fight Cold and Flu Naturally, https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/8-tips-to-treat-colds-and-flu-the-natural-way#1-6 accessed January 24, 2018
2. Buckle, J., (2015), Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Healthcare, pp.362