Sage Steam

It is seriously cold in Michigan today. So cold, in fact, that schools across Michigan have shut down again for fear of frosty little noses. Gertrude and I braved the subzero temps, however, for a morning walk at the recreation center down the road. We had the place entirely to ourselves. The sun was shining, and Gertrude bounded through the snow completely unphased.

Gertrude in snow

When we returned home, I decided to whip up a sage steam to warm up my lungs. This remedy is one of my favorites for  people with colds. The steam warms the mucous membranes and the volatile oils in the sage get the mucous moving out. Best of all, it works immediately. If you are really suffering from a stuffy head, 15 minutes under a towel breathing in the vapors of sage, will give you soooo much relief!

Here’s how you do it. You need a good handful of dried sage. If you don’t have sage, thyme will also do the trick. Or you can go wild and add sage and thyme! In the fall, I usually just trim my sage plants and dry it in paper bags in the garage. You can also buy fresh sage at the grocery store. Fresh sage will work just as well, you just need a bit more.

Then you heat up a pot of water. I usually fill a large pot about 1/3-1/2 full with water. Bring it to a boil. Grab a bath towel, and bring the pot of water to a table with a chair. Place the sage in the pot. Let it steep for a minute. Then begin steaming.

sage steam-side view

Take the lid off of the pot, and breath in the vapors of the sage infusion. Place the towel over your head to create a little mini-steam room. Feel free to lift up a corner if it’s gets too hot in there. Steam  for 10-15 minutes.

sage tea

When you’ve finished, start drinking your sage infusion. Sip on it all day. For extra immune benefits, mucous membrane soothing, and general tastiness, add a spoonful of raw, local honey.


Just don’t do what I did in October. I was getting ready to go to Africa, and I had to get the yellow fever vaccine. After my vaccination, I got a pretty nasty cold. It might have been the vaccine or it might have been nerves, but I was sick. So, I brewed up a big pot of sage and thyme and tea and drank it all day. At the end of the day, when I went to discard the herbs at the bottom of the pot, there floating in the last of the liquid was a boiled caterpillar. To be honest, it put me off sage and thyme tea for awhile. Although, I did recover from my cold.  So the moral of the story is check your herbs for little creatures.

Happy steaming!




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