Warm, moist air opens nasal and bronchial passages. Combined with herbs, steam is one of the most effective, all-purpose cold and flu cures. To humidify and disinfect the entire house, simmer the water with the herbs or essential oils on low heat for half an hour. Essential oils can also be used in most commercial humidifiers, but check the instructions.
- 3 cups water
- 5 drops essential oil of lavender
- 5 drops essential oil of rosemary
- 5 drops essential oil of bergamot
- Simmer the water in a pan. Remove from the heat and add the oils (you can get the same effect by putting
cup total of fresh or dried herbs in the simmering water instead of the essential oils).
- Hold your face over the steam and cover your head with a bath towel. Tuck the ends of the towel around the pan so the steam doesn’t escape. Breathe in the fragrant steam as deeply as you comfortably can, coming out for fresh air when needed (about every minute or so).
Kathi Keville is the author of eleven books, including Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (Crossing Press, 1995) and Herbs for Health and Healing (Rodale, 1996). She teaches herb and aromatherapy seminars throughout the United States and is director of the American Herb Association (
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Herbs for Cold and Flu.