botanical medicine / hydrotherapy

hydrotherapy@home: steam inhalation

The hydrotherapy unit has begun! I’m really excited for this unit because although massage is fun and relaxing, hydrotherapy is really useful. Most of the treatments that I’ve done at the clinic have used hydrotherapy in some way – the most recent being the infrared sauna (for my detox). In addition, my detox essentially consists of self-care hydrotherapy treatments (which I’ll discuss in future posts). 

Today we demonstrated steam inhalations – which are fantastic for those suffering from various ailments such as congestion, allergies, cold and flu, sore throats, etc. Keep in mind that although steam inhalations will not have curative effects, they will relieve symptoms.

Steam inhalations will increase expulsion of expectorations, as mucus within the lungs is liquified by the hot and wet air. The mucuosa in your respiratory system will heat up causing increased circulation, thereby decreasing congestion. Lastly the essential oils will have medicinal effects, which can be seen below.  


//What do you need?//

– Kettle

– Water

– A large bowl (I used stainless steel, glass is also fine)

– A large towel (big enough to cover your head)

– Essential oils (optional, but recommended)


//What to do//

Add a few drops of essential oil to the bowl (3 is more than enough), and pour water into the bowl (it should be about 1/2 full). Place your head right over the steam and put the towel over your head bowl – making sure that no steam can escape. Close your eyes for about a minute (I find the water too sensitive at that point), and start breathing in and out deeply through your nose. The recommended time for this treatment is about 30 minutes – but effects can be seen in 5-10 minutes. 


//What kind of essential oils should I use?//

Depending on your condition, different oils can be used. Let’s take a look at three:

1. Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is an expectorant – meaning it helps get mucus out of your lungs. This makes it great for respiratory conditions like bronchitis, a wet cough, asthma, or colds. This oil contains antimicrobial (destroying microorganism growth) and antiseptic (inhibits the growth and development of microrganisms) properties. 

2. Tea Tree
This oil is fantastic for skin conditions, especially acne. In addition to reducing redness and inflammation, it has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties – which help them kill acne-causing bacteria! Many natural skincare products contain tea tree oil – like Lush’s grease lightning and tea tree water.

3. Lavender 
Lavender oil is antibacterial, deodorizing, and relaxing. It helps reduces stress headaches (which I have yet to experience, despite writing 9 exams in 7 days in December). It can also help clear depression, promote restful sleep, and strengthens the nervous system.  

Note: I used this oil when I tried this treatment at home. I don’t suffer from any respiratory ailments (and I didn’t have tea tree oil), so I decided that a relaxing treatment was in order. 

In addition to these three essential oils, others can be used – but be sure to research their properties first to determine if they’re right for you. For respiratory ailments, oregano oil is very potent and can be used for these conditions.  

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One thought on “hydrotherapy@home: steam inhalation

  1. Pingback: hydrotherapy@home: steam inhalation shower | The Individual Balance

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