External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Chamomile Head Steam Bath

Kind of substance

Chamomile flowers

Guiding principle for the application

The simplest form of steam inhalation is a head steam bath over a bowl of hot water or medicinal herbal tea. Chamomile has a germicidal effect on inflammatory processes in the air organs and is therefore the ideal medicinal plant for soothing the mucous membrane in the nasopharynx. Head steam baths unfold their effects in two ways. The essential oils in the tea work directly through the skin and are inhaled simultaneously through the nose and mouth.

For diseases of the upper respiratory tract and bronchial tubes, steam inhalation has an anti-inflammatory and decongestant effect on the mucous membranes. The steam moistens the respiratory tract, dissolves the mucus and works up to the paranasal sinuses. The active ingredients in the steam alleviate headaches caused by a cold due to a blocked nose and paranasal sinuses, the swelling of the mucous membranes decreases, breathing becomes freer and the urge to cough usually subsides quickly.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Bronchitis
  • Flu
  • Infections of the upper airways
  • Headache
  • Otitis media
  • Sinusitis



  • Make sure that the tea infusion is not too hot, as the steam could burn the skin and mucous membrane and damage the fine cilia in the mucous membrane. The water for the head steam bath is 80°C (176°F) maximum!
  • When children receive this treatment, make sure that the bowl is standing well, preferably on the floor or in the sink; or take the child on your lap and inhale together with the child
  • Alternatively, you can use an electric facial sauna, in which case the amount of water is smaller and the face rests on a kind of funnel.

  • 2 tbsp. chamomile flowers
  • 2 liters boiling water
  • Teapot with a lid
  • A basin
  • Possibly a headband to protect the hair
  • Large hand towel
  • Comfortable place to sit

  • Pour the boiling water over the chamomile flowers, cover and let steep for 10 minutes
  • Then empty the infusion with the flowers into the bowl
  • The patient bends her head over the bowl; her head should remain about 40 cm above the water bowl
  • If necessary, cover her hair with a headband so that it does not get wet
  • Spread a large towel over her head and the bowl
  • Let the hot steam work in for 10 minutes, while the patient breathes in and out through the nose. If her nose is blocked, she can alternatively breathe in and out through her mouth
  • After inhaling, dry her face and let her rest in the room
  • Avoid draughts and direct exposure to cold air

  • Discard the tea infusion
  • Rinse and dry the bowl
  • Hang up the towel to dry

Well-proven in many patients
2–4 x daily
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
Until the symptoms subside
Other recommended therapies
The head steam bath can be carried out with thyme tea, lime blossoms, elderberry blossoms or table salt as an addition to the hot water, for example, according to the patient’s complaints
Burns from improper handling of the hot solution


TB, MM, Red.