September 17, 2014


Everyone at least once in their life has put into practice one of the most famous and practical home remedy for colds, sinus infections or coughs, which is to arm yourself with a pot of boiling water, cover your head with a towel and wait for the vapor to make its effect on the airways, clogged as the city center during rush hour.


We are talking about steam inhalation with essential oils, which consist in dispersing a few drops of one or more essential oils into boiling water and inhale the vapors open-mouthed.

Essential oils, being made of volatile molecules, easily pass through the respiratory tract and act directly on the inflammation.

In case the cold catches you unprepared and without the scented bottles of essences, you can replace them by breathing the vapors of a hot infusion based on balsamic plants such as, Mint, Pine, Myrtle or Elecampane.

We specify that essential oils, being substances that can often cause irritation because they are very concentrated in active ingredients, must be used at low dosage: 8-10 drops in a pot of water are enough to have the desired effect.


Going back to the illnesses of the cold seasons that make the nose run, the essential oils best suited to counteract them are those that have expectorant, balsamic and antiseptic actions. Here is a short list.


Oils with expectorant action: they cause irritation in the mucous membrane, causing an increase of bronchial secretion (for defense) and facilitate the expulsion of phlegm and mucus through the cough.

Among these, the essential oil of thyme, eucalyptus, basil, Scots pine, sandalwood and fennel.


Balsamic oils: they act as emollients on the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, they can have a sedative action on the throat and they inhibit the formation of the sputum.

Among the main essential oils with a balsamic action we find eucalyptus, mint, scots pine or mountain pine, lavender, thyme but also benzoin (extracted from the genus Styrax benzoin), Frankincense, myrrh, the balsam of Tolu and the balsam of Peru.


Oils with antiseptic action: they are disinfectants that act on the airway surface liquid and can be useful in all infections of the lungs, bronchi and trachea.

Among these are the essential oil of thyme, sage, eucalyptus, hyssop, scots pine or mountain pine, tea tree (extracted from the genus Malaleuca alternifolia), myrtle and niaouli (extracted from the genus Malaleuca viridiflora).


Inhalations with essential oils are therefore an excellent, practical and cheap method, also useful for relaxing and breathing a sigh of relief!



Other articles that may interest you:

Essential oil: what are they?

Aromatic water or floral waters: what are they?

How to distill Mint