Herbal Steam for Lung Support during COVID & RSV

Herbal Medic author Sam Coffman offers up an easy-to-make herbal remedy to help combat respiratory infections like COVID, RSV, flu, and the common cold.

One method of working with herbal medicine that is very useful for respiratory infections (such as COVID or RSV) is steam inhalation. Turning herbs that are helpful for respiratory infections into a steam that you can inhale deep into your lungs has a very strong and immediate effect, relaxing smooth muscle, clearing breathing passages, and facilitating expectoration. All the herbs listed below are cut and sifted.


  • 1 part juniper berry (Juniperus spp.)
  • 1 part arborvitae needles (Thuja spp.)
  • 1 part thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • 1 part rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
  • ½ part chaparral (Larrea tridentata)


  1. Mix the first four herbs together. Place 3–4 tablespoons of herb mixture, 1–2 tablespoons of the chaparral, and two quarts of filtered or distilled water into a stainless-steel pot. Put a lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil.
  2. Pull the pan off the heat and place it on a towel or trivet on a table. Sit down in front of the pot, place a towel or blanket over your head and the pot of herbs, and move the lid of the pot to release steam. Use the lid to control how much steam is present when you are breathing, being careful to avoid burning yourself. Inhale deeply through both your mouth and your nose.
  3. If you are congested, it will take at least a few minutes of breathing until you start to feel the phlegm in your lungs breaking up. Breathe the steam for 3–5 minutes, or as long as it is comfortable for you to do so, before taking a break for about the same length of time. Repeat this process at least two or three times before stopping. The pot can be kept all day at room temperature and heated up as needed to repeat the steam inhalation.
  4. After 24 hours, empty the pot, clean it, and start again with fresh herbs.

Sam Coffman

Sam Coffman

About the Author

Sam Coffman is a clinical herbalist who began his medical career with more than 10 years as a Green Beret medic. For more than 25 years, he has taught wilderness first-aid certification, remote and post-disaster herbal medicine, and urban and primitive survival skills. He is the founder of The Human Path, a preparedness school based in San Antonio, Texas, and cofounder of Herbal Medics, a nonprofit organization that teachers herbal medicine and preparedness skills in medically underserved areas in the US and abroad. He also teaches survival and austere medicine to doctors, nurses, and other medical staff who are preparing to embark into disaster-relief areas around the world.

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