Best Herbal Steams for Cold and Flu Relief This Season

Herbal Tea From Dry Linden Flowers On A Spoon

Photo credit: bigstock

It’s still early winter, and already winter snows are high, people are trying to stay indoors, but the flu and cold season already has a good start. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you or your family get hit hard with a nasty case of the flu or a cold. Instead of heading out into the snow and paying for some overpriced over the counter medicines, why not try a natural steaming herb this season?

Herbal steam treatments are fantastic at clearing up sinus and lung congestion when you have the flu. The inhalation of steam is the perfect remedy for asthma, infections, bronchitis, and headaches. The steam from boiling water is often effective enough to fight congestion, but adding herbs to the water can bring a multitude of benefits. Fragrant herbs help fight infections and promote a sense of well-being and calm. Of course the best herbs to use are those with detoxifying compounds and expectorant properties.

When you or your family come down with cold or flu symptoms, try a soothing, fragrant herbal steam treatment before you head out to the drug store.


Items You Will Need

  • Kettle, pot, steam inhaler, or vaporizer
  • Glass or ceramic bowl
  • Fresh herbs or essential oils
  • Large towel
  • Water
  • Face cloth (wash cloth)

Dried Herbal Steam Recipe #1


  • 1 Tablespoon peppermint leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon gingko biloba leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon sage leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons eucalyptus leaves
  • 2 Quarts of water

Mix all the herbs together in a bowl. Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the herbs. Cover the herbs and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Cover your head with a towel and take the cover off the bowl, creating a tent so you can capture the steam and inhale it.  Continue inhaling the steam for about 10 minutes. If your nose is plugged, begin by breathing in through your mouth. Use the face cloth to wipe your face if it starts to sweat or drip condensation. You should be able to breathe through your nose after a minute or two.

essential oils with lemon and mint

Photo credit: bigstock

Essential Oil Steam Treatment

If you don’t happen to have some of the dried herbs available, you can also inhale steam made from essential oils. Terrific mixtures of essential oils for cold and flu symptoms are:

Place about two drops of each of these oils in a pot of boiling water and create a tent as you did for the dried herbs.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

Steaming Herbs from Your Kitchen

If you don’t have access to dried herbs or you don’t have any essential oils, you can make your own steaming herbs from things you probably have right in your kitchen. Add any combination of the following to a pot of boiling water:

  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

The difference between a cold and the flu is that the flu usually has a fever and even more pronounced symptoms than a regular cold does. The following recipe is especially effective when it comes to reducing fever symptoms and strengthening your immune system.

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

Dried Herbal Steam Recipe #2 (for fevers)

  • 2 Tablespoons dried peppermint leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons dried elderflowers
  • 5 Drops Echinacea
  • 5 Drops Juniper oil
  • 5 Drops Goldenseal
  • 1 Quart of boiling water


SEE ALSO: Top Ways to Protect Yourself from Any Virus or Bacteria

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

Alternate Ways to Use Herbs

You can also enjoy the warming qualities of a hot bath that has been infused with herbs. Place any of the herbs listed in the recipes above in a muslin bag or cloth that has been tied to create a bag, and place in your bath water about 5 to 10 minutes before you get in. You can breathe in the steam this way as well as warm your body at the same time. You can also add a few drops of essential oils directly to the water, but be aware that some of these oils are irritating to delicate skin so take precautions and do a test with on a small area of skin first.

Another popular and effective way to use these herbs is to place them in an herb vaporizer. You cal also apply these hot, steaming herbs into a hot compress and apply them directly to the chest or to the back, or on any other location that has aching muscles.

Other herbs that work well for cold and flu symptoms are:

  • Cypress
  • Chamomile
  • Anise oil
  • Cypress
  • Cedarwood
  • Cayenne
  • Basil
  • Tea Tree oil
  • Mullein oil
  • Oregano and oregano oil
  • Rosemary
  • Horsetail
  • Orange oil
  • Hyssop
  • Fennel seeds
  • Lavender
  • Pine

Choose any combination of your favorite oils or dried leaves and flowers to create your own steaming herb recipe. Some herbs work better for some people than for others, so try different combinations until you find which ones suit you best.


Herbal Academy of New England, Online Intermediate Herbal Course

Herbal Remedies for the Cold & Flu Season by Rosalee de la Foret

Henriette’s Herbal by Henriette Kress

Practical Herbs 2 by Henriette Kress

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