Herbal Steams for Winter
A hundred years ago, people didn’t have the medications available today for curing coughs, colds and flu. They relied on herbs grown in the garden and found along sunny edges of forests and by roadsides. Every house had its own ‘kitchen garden’ growing vegetables as well as herbs to spice the soup. Those found growing wild are what we today call ‘weeds’, a highly mistaken term considering that these plants store vitamins, minerals and other properties that make them excellent healers.
One of the remedies our ancestors used for winter ills was the steam. In a large pot of water on the wood stove, they added herbs carefully dried and stored from last summer. Breathing the steam of the herbs brings relief, as decongesting sinuses and bronchial passages open the airways and allow for easy breathing. The steam also replaces moisture in the lungs that become dried out from extreme outdoor temperatures and dry indoor heat.
Coltsfoot- Coltsfoot helps loosen and expel phlegm.
In a steam, Coltsfoot will break up congestion in the
sinuses, bronchial passages and lungs.
Comfrey- Comfrey relieves swelling and produces
mucous to sooth scratchy sore throats. In a steam,
Comfrey is a lung tonic and used for colds, bronchitis
Eucalyptus- Eucalyptus is an aromatic herb with
disinfectant properties. Used in a steam, Eucalyptus
will reduce the inflammation of colds and flu,
decongest the airways, and help bring down a fever.
Goldenrod- In a steam, Goldenrod is used to reduce
inflammation in upper respiratory conditions such as colds
or flu. (Contrary to the myth, Goldenrod does not cause hay
fever, in fact it reduces bronchial inflammation.)
Mullein- Mullein reduces inflammation in the respiratory
system. Use Mullein in a steam to relieve congestion and
tone the lungs, as this plant is good for colds, bronchitis,
laryngitis and flu. Turn your ears to the steam and Mullein
will help to relieve earaches.
Peppermint- Peppermint is an aromatic plant with strong
oils that relieve congestion in the sinuses, chest and lungs
when used in a steam. Peppermint will also bring down
fevers by promoting perspiration.
Sage- Sage is an aromatic plant used for cleansing and
purification by the Native people. When used in a steam,
Sage soothes inflamed mucous membranes and helps
relieve congestion in the sinuses, chest and lungs.
Stinging Nettle- Stinging Nettles strengthens and supports
the entire body through a high concentration of vitamins
and minerals. In a steam, Stinging Nettles stimulates
the respiratory system and helps rebuild damages tissues.