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  • Writer's pictureAbby Prendergast

Herbal Steams for Immune Support

Herbal steams are simple to do at home and are a wonderfully effective method of transporting the medicinal qualities of the following herbs (discussed below) directly to the respiratory system where they can impart their antimicrobial actions. Steaming with antimicrobial plants has been enjoyed as a traditional wellbeing practice for many years and is highly effective for opening the airways, dispelling stagnation, eliminating pathogens and mobilising the lymphatic system, aiding clearance of waste products and toxins from the body.

The following aromatic plants are easy to grow at home and will be happy in pots on a windowsill if you’re short on space. I would avidly encourage you to begin growing your own herbs at home as you will enjoy an abundant supply, improve air quality, provide for pollinators and experience the joy and fulfilment that comes with connecting directly with our herbal allies and nurturing plant life.

You’ll also be able to share plants and cuttings with your friends and neighbours which is a lovely way to foster and support a sense of community and care for each other. If you’re unable to grow your own then these herbs are also commonly found at food markets or on supermarket shelves and are inexpensive to buy, so you can still benefit from their immune supporting potential.

The herbs of choice for a steam can widely vary depending on which element of your health you are looking to support. The herbs below all contain volatile oils and have antimicrobial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting properties. The dispersing nature of these herbs means they are especially effective at clearing congestion within the respiratory and digestive systems, supporting your body to function efficiently when it comes to fighting off infection.

How to Prepare your Herbal Steam

Choose from one or a combination of the following herbs:

· Thyme

· Sage

· Oregano

· Rosemary

· Peppermint

· Lemon Balm

Add a handful of one or a mixed selection of the herbs above to a large bowl of freshly boiled water.

If desired add 1-2 drops essential oil such as relaxing lavender oil or uplifting lemon oil to add an extra dash of luxury! (Please be cautious when working with essential oils and be sure to only use 1-2 drops to avoid burning sensitive nasal passages!).

Place a clean towel over your head and gently lean over the bowl, creating a little tent for you and the bowl of herbs. Breathe deeply for 10 minutes, enjoying the warming sensation of the steam and allowing the volatile oils to open and clear the airways.

This is a lovely practice to support winding down and easing into relaxation in the evenings. I recommend doing a herbal steam a few times a week to support general immune health, or as often as several times daily when actively fighting off an infection.


The herbs discussed here are considered generally safe when worked with at the appropriate therapeutic doses however please consult your local Herbalist if you’re pregnant or have a specific health condition. A consultation with a qualified Herbalist will help you to select the specific remedies best suited to your unique circumstances.

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