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Steam Inhalation Therapy For Cold & Respiratory Infection

Amongst this pandemic while we moved across different upshots of the viral attacks, steam inhalation was highly acclaimed throughout all medical systems and in the media as a means of protection and prevention from all pathogens, including the very new guest the Black fungus. Have you ever wondered why? As we understand from the ancient science of life, Ayurveda, the nose is considered as the entrance to the brain and the doorway to consciousness. Another concept well accepted in the field of Ayurveda is that the nose leads to the Ida Nadi and Pingala Nadi , which controls the body according to the cycles or movements of the celestial bodies of the sun and moon respectively.

As we all know Head or Shiras is the seat of Kapha dosha. While this same Kapha is in its normal state it adds strength to the body, while in its abnormal or aggravated conditions it acts like nothing but just smut. Most usually manifested nasal congestions and respiratory infections are a result of this pile felt unattended.

Cold & Respiratory Infection

Dhuma Nasya

Respiratory infections may be segregated as upper respiratory tract infections and lower respiratory tract infections depending on the site of manifestation. The former includes more of the nasal cavity to the larynx, while the latter involves the bronchioles to the lungs. Most of us might have experienced a runny nose, this is nothing by the automatic shedding of this accumulated kapha from the upper respiratory tract. Now what about the lower tract? Steam inhalation is the key to reach the lower strata of the respiratory system. Essentially steam inhalations may be considered as a type of Dhupana Nasya as mentioned by Acharya Charak. One among the five purification therapies, the nasal administration of medicines for diseases of mainly the head and neck is called Nasya. Traditionally Dhupana nasya involves the puffing of mild herbal smoke, but with modern equipment steam inhalation is also considered lately.

The Trigger

Just as any other disease the doshic variations or imbalances are responsible for the manifestation of respiratory distress. According to the natural pattern of seasonal fluctuations in the Dosha status. Physiologically cold and nasal blocks will be seen in each individual during the colder climate of Shishira, but as the sun rays starts to seep in from the Vasanta, the warmth gradually melts the frozen acclimated pile of Kapha and result in easy breaths naturally, when this system is not happening or the kapha is too overcrowded within the Prana vaha srotas, it always better to resolve to streaming mechanism to ease that tension.While pathological nasal blocks have to be monitored, it may be due to some pathogen, viral, bacterial, etc. this can further trigger the sinus glands to inflame resulting in serious conditions of sinusitis. The very recent Black fungus is a variation seen to authentic sinus infections leading to respiratory problems.

It is not always the Kapha who acts as the villain in respiratory diseases, the other two humours Vata and Pitta also have their parts to play. Aggravated Vata is responsible for tremendous dryness in the nasal passage often leading to breathlessness as well. For Vata influenced conditions unctuous steam inhalations are preferred. While for pitta simple inhalations can do the trick for the signs of Pitta influenced snags will be more irritant and itchy in the topical areas.

How Does It Work ?

Just like a stream of warm sun rays gives that aesthetic feeling, when a stream of warm air is pulled in, it emulsifies the congested kapha and tries to reroute it to facilitate drainage in the form of a running nose. The basic concept of streaming is nothing but as simple as melting an ice. But the effectiveness of Ayurveda in steam inhalation comes with the type and source of stream used for inhaling. Steam is nothing but a warm mist of air and this when puffed in can travel up to the lungs clearing the path from the unwanted kapha on the way. Steam moving till the lungs might sound bizarre, when the decoctions are used for streaming purpose, the mist takes along with the properties of the herbs used as well.

Research 1 done in the field of steam inhalation and sinusitis proved that the steam from decoctions of potent mucokinetic herbs were efficient in clearing the nasal snags when compared to normal water, along with the administration of other formulations.The Chedana (cutting) and Ledkana (Scraping) properties of drugs can be used to induce effective ground level removal of the aggravated and accumulated Kapha humour.

A few other wider researches 2 done with respect to the effectiveness of steam inhalation in treating respiratory disorders showed that almost half of the population taken for the research had considerable depletion in their troubled breathing patterns than those who underwent conventional treatments. Just as the common nebulizer deposits the drug through a mist of air, the steam inhalation does the same with another mechanism.

It is for this very reason steam inhalation was and is advised in this pandemic situation as well, to always keep the pathway clear to not allow the growth of any pathogens on it. And by any chance if there is any pathogen present, the steam from potent mucokinetic ayurvedic herbs can cure them as well. It is always necessary to keep in mind that treatment is not trying everything under the sun. Steam inhalation with the right medicinal plants could have done all the magic that you need. It is important to discuss your problems with an ayurvedic doctor to channelize the right steam needed for your health, if simple water did not do the help.

It might sound overrated but the maintenance of the right digestive fire is needed to balance all the optimal functioning in your body. The unauthorised excess consumption of sweet, heavy, unctuous food items is the foremost important reason for Kapha aggravation other than physiological accumulation of the same. Hence it becomes even more important to opt for the right nutritional status needed for your body to avoid snags at any time of the year.


  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artciles/PMC3335227/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5026511/
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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan


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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan


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