Whenever I fell ill with congestion as a little girl in Lithuania, my mother would relieve my inflamed nose, throat and chest congestion with potato and water steaming. I remember dreading it as a kid - like my kids now - but it worked for us like a charm! Grandmothers and Mothers across eastern Europe and in Russia have been using this method for as long as anyone of us can remember. On top of that, steaming has wonderful effects for your precious skin!
Since moving to the states and starting my own family, I have introduced this method into my own household with added turmeric and hsalt to elevate and boost the health benefits. Whenever my daughter would fall to the sniffles, I would quickly get the potatoes out! After one or two times of “potato steamings”- she would usually feel a LOT better and lose her congestion. My skeptical husband believed it was high folklore, until he also fell ill and miserable with the flu one year. He was willing to give it a try, and now he makes sure we always have potatoes on hand - LOL!
How Does Potato Steam Work Help Congestion?
So, most of us have gotten some relief from congestion when we take a nice hot shower. Well the steam inhalation from your shower can help alleviate several issues caused by congestion.
There isn’t a lot of clinical research on plain steam inhalation for congestion (a quick Google search shows some really good positives on healthline.com, webmd.com, emedihealth.com, etc., for both congestion help and skin benefits). The concept is similar with potato steam, but with a few added benefits per the home-therapy experience of many!
The potatoes will hold heat a bit longer and may deliver some aromatherapy and/or nutritional benefits along with the steam – which I can’t explain - but do firmly believe in from our family congestion-relieving experiences!
As for adding for any nutritional benefits of potato steam inhalation, but at least when eaten with skin and all potatoes can deliver: vitamin C ; potassium; magnesium; phosphorus; copper; vitamin B; vitamin E; vitamin K; and antioxidants. The bonus benefit of potato steaming is if you don’t contaminate your potatoes, they can be utilized for the night’s nutritional dinner!
What does steaming do for your skin?
It’s cleansing. Steam opens up your pores and helps loosen any buildup of dirt for a deeper cleanse. Opening up your pores also softens blackheads, making them easier to remove.
It promotes circulation. The combination of warm steam and an increase in perspiration dilates your blood vessels and increases circulation. This boost of blood flow nourishes your skin and delivers oxygen. The result is a natural, healthy glow.
It releases acne-causing bacteria and cells. Opening up your pores allows the release of dead skin cells, bacteria, and other impurities that clog the pores and contribute to acne.
It releases trapped sebum. This naturally occurring oil is produced by your sebaceous glands to lubricate your skin and hair. When sebum gets trapped beneath your skin’s surface, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria and causes acne and blackheads.
It’s hydrating. Steam hydrates the skin by helping to increase oil production, naturally moisturizing the face.
It helps your skin better absorb skin care products. Steam increases skin’s permeability, enabling it to better absorb topicals. This means you get more bang for your buck from skin care products applied after a steam.
It promotes collagen and elastin. The increased blood flow experienced during a steam facial promotes collagen and elastin production. This results in firmer, younger-looking skin.
It’s soothing. The feeling of warm steam on your face is relaxing. Add some organic essential oils for aromatherapy to take your steam session to a whole other level of calm!
How Do I Potato Steam?
You will need potatoes, a large pot, water, a towel, and a level surface.
First boil potatoes.
When they begin to boil, keep checking them with a fork, and boil them until they start to soften but are still firm. Right before the breathing, remove them from the stove heat, but do not drain the water.
Set the pot of potatoes/water on a leveled surface, I like to use my kitchen floor with a large potholder underneath for protection.
Tent the congested head underneath a towel (this will keep the steam from escaping) and over the steaming pot. Make sure to come close enough toward the pot that the inhaled steam is quite warm, but not too hot to risk any burns.
Hang out under your towel tent, breathing the steam deeply, for 10-15 minutes.
We would repeat this practice a couple times a day at the first sign of any cold/flu congestion and were amazed at its help in clearing! For skin results, a more soothing session every couple of weeks or longer per personal desire is great!
As COVID-19 spreads, I’m not a doctor and not medically advising for it (anyone with COVID-19, especially with underlying health conditions, should register with their doctor), but if me or my family catch it (KNOCK ON WOOD) - you can bet I would be quickly breathing potatoes with any initial symptoms :-)
During these hard times, I hope this info is helpful for you and your family as it has helped my family for generations!