DIY Herbal Steam for a Stuffy Nose

Last updated on January 2nd, 2024 at 11:52 am

Whether from seasonal allergies or a nasty cold, a stuffy nose can make you feel miserable. You sound funny when you talk, you have a headache, and when you blow your nose, nothing comes out. You’ll try almost anything to relieve the pain and pressure.

Warm steam can do wonders for sinus congestion. The moist air soothes your swollen nasal tissue and helps thin out mucus to get it flowing again. Adding fragrant herbs like eucalyptus and lavender will lend additional support toward opening your airways and making you feel even more comfortable.

Here’s a simple recipe for an herbal sinus steam you can make at home the next time you’re sick or stuffed up.

DIY Herbal Steam for Congestion

This decongesting herbal steam recipe can be effective using either fresh or dried herbs, but we do not recommend using essential oils. Use a sterile saline spray before and after inhalation to cleanse the nasal cavity as much as possible. Wait 15 minutes between taking a homeopathic medicine and inhaling herbal steam. Always exercise caution around hot and boiling water.

What You Will Need

    • 1 large pot or kettle to boil water
    • 1 large heatproof bowl
    • 4–6 cups of water
    • 1 large towel
    • 1 tablespoon of any or all of the following herbs: Eucalyptus leaves, rosemary sprigs, thyme, lavender buds, mint leaf, rose petals


      • Use kettle or pot to boil water.
      • While the water is heating up, place fresh or dried herbs in heatproof bowl.
      • Place bowl on a sturdy, heat resistant surface and carefully pour in boiling water. Cover bowl with towel and allow herbs to steep for up to 5 minutes.
      • When the steam has reached a comfortable temperature, remove towel and position your face 10 inches above the bowl. Drape towel over your head, creating a tent to hold the steam in.
      • Relax, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for up to 10 minutes.

      If you need more sinus relief, try a homeopathic decongestant like SinusCalm (formerly known as Sinusalia) for nasal congestion, sinus pain, and headache. This non-drowsy medicine is available in your choice of meltaway tablets or pellets, and it won’t interact with other medications or supplements. Find SinusCalm in a store near you.

      *Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.

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7 thoughts on “DIY Herbal Steam for a Stuffy Nose”

  1. Steam feels so good on my sinuses, which get irritated in cold and dry weather. I love the idea adding herbs to the steam bath. I can imagine loving herbs like peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus for this purpose.

    1. We agree, steam is so comforting when it’s cold outside. Let us know if you give this a try and which herbs you chose. Thanks for reading, Katherine!

  2. Currently having my congested hubby breathing over a bowl of fresh rosemary, thyme, mint and eucalyptus from the garden. No roses in bloom, but I did have some rose water on hand. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Gretchen Snider-Bassett

    Thank you so much for this information–my naturopathic doctor just told me about this method . . . and it actually worked, even though I didn’t let it steep (I actually hung my head over the boiled water removed from the stove, added fresh thyme from the produce department of our local store {she said dried would work, also}, and steeped my head–for only five minutes)! My ND didn’t mention the additional herbs and rose petals; other than thyme, we have everything except rosemary: I think we’re going to start a herb garden? I slept so much better without the congestion/drainage, and I was already using multiple other methods of Flonase/Allegra equivalents, humidifier, home central air circulation, and even windows opened?? Thanks again!!

  4. Hi, I have been using steam bowls for a long time, but so grateful to find your recipes and recommendations. I have been using eucalyptus essential oil, however, and wondering why you don’t recommend them. Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura,

      We’re glad you enjoyed our recipe!

      As essential oils vary widely in use, check your essential oil to ensure that it can be safely used for a steam bowl. We recommend the fresh plant for steam bowls so you can get all of the benefits of the plant without any uncertainty that may come with essential oils.


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