Using Rabbit Tobacco- Sinus Congestion Remedy

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We’ve been talking about Rabbit Tobacco- my favorite folk herb for sinus congestion remedies. If you’re just tuning in, be sure to check out Part 1 so I can properly introduced you to this herb and its history of use.
herbal remedies for nasal congestion (45 of 62) In Part 2, you’ll see the distribution map, and learn about harvesting, look alikes, what to watch out for, and how to “garble” or prepare the herb from the field. You should have leaves, stalks, and flowers at hand once you harvest and prep it. herbal remedies for nasal congestion (34 of 62)

Now we’ll talk about what to do with your lovely herb stash!

Where to Buy Rabbit Tobacco

Being a folk herb, it’s a little hard to find sources of this herb if it doesn’t grow locally. If Rabbit Tobacco doesn’t grow in your area, I have opened up an Etsy store and share what I’m able to gather each year. You can also find it for sale on

Using Rabbit Tobacco

There are several ways that I use rabbit tobacco, but I’ll start with the easiest first. Put your Rabbit Tobacco into a vase and enjoy its beauty! The scent alone is said to be therapeutic, and it does smell so wonderful- like pine and balsam to my nose, but others pick up hints of vanilla. And it’s a nice addition to your home decor. herbal remedies for nasal congestion (62 of 62)

You really can’t get any easier than this! :)

Aromatherapy Steam Remedy

This is my favorite way to use Rabbit Tobacco for acute illness. Native American’s used Rabbit Tobacco in steam tents, so I’ve updated that approach with my humidifier.

I love to use it as a steam treatment, because it’s efficient and effective for the whole family. If we’re all battling runny noses and crud, then I will make up acup of tea using a pinch of rabbit tobacco leaves, and about a cup of boiling water.herbal remedies for nasal congestion (26 of 62)

Please note that Rabbit Tobacco is not kidding around. More is not better– more might be so strongly scented that your husband can’t sleep and might be cranky the next day and not a fan of your herbal experiments. So take my advice and stick with just a pinch like you see here. :) I’m talking 8-10 large leaves is ALL you need.

After the tea steeps for a few minutes, I’ll set up my humidifier. This is the DeVILBISS- may she rest in peace. She served us well for many years, and finally died last year. *sniff* I mourn her passing. I like pretty glass vintage things that were built to last decades as opposed to cheap plastic contraptions shaped like frogs and Hello Kitty that are hard to clean and require filters.

Sorry. The pain is still too fresh. I digress…
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Fill your favorite (or your ‘it’ll do’) humidifier according to manufacturer’s directions, and just pour your Rabbit Tobacco tea in with the water. It should give the steam a nice mild scent. I stick the wet leaves into the little cup here. Just for fun. It makes me feel like a naturalist. herbal remedies for nasal congestion (28 of 62)

Then you just run your humidifier and a whole room full of people can enjoy this lovely, calming, and drying remedy. It’s so effective and soothing that I’ve now purchased humidifiers for every bedroom so we can all get our aromatherapy treatments while we snooze.

Rabbit Tobacco Tea: My Sinus Congestion Remedy

Here’s a really simple way to prepare Rabbit Tobacco, and my favorite sinus congestion remedy: Rabbit Tobacco tea. You can make the tea either with the flowers or with the leaves.

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Rabbit Tobacco is such a richly scented herb that it doesn’t take much to make a nice cup of flavorful tea. I use a small pinch of herbs- maybe 6-8 large leaves. In this case, I poured boiling water over the leaves in the strainer, and that was enough to give it good flavor and body, and more than likely I can let the leaves dry out and reuse them again.

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If you do a traditional steep in just off the boil water for 5 minutes, I’d back off to only 3-4 leaves.

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I find the tea to be very drying, but there are times when I would opt for that just for the sake of time or if I want a very focused treatment for my throat or mouth. Mouth ulcerations was another one of the uses mentioned in the historic documents on how Native American’s used this herb.

Making a quick cup of tea is my fast and focused sinus congestion remedy, and a great way to get a feel for how you respond to the herb. It’s the first way that I tried Rabbit Tobacco, and how I discovered how effective and drying it can be!

For Chronic Lung Weakness

Folklore has it that the flowers of Rabbit Tobacco was used for childhood asthma- the story that Mathew Woods shared prompted me to make use of these little cotton drawstring bags.
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I can tuck them right inside of the pillowcase for naptime and  night-time aromatherapy session- and the scent and action is gentle yet persistent. I feel comfortable using this approach for little ones whose lungs seem to be their weak point when illness strikes.  herbal remedies for nasal congestion (48 of 62)

The flowers compress so flat that they are really not noticeable once they go inside the pillow case. If it weren’t for the gentle scent you’d never know it was there.herbal remedies for nasal congestion (50 of 62)

I like to use these for acute illness in lieu of dragging out the humidifier, or I’ll gift these to Mama’s whose little ones seem to have persistent lung issues popping up. I also offer Rabbit Tobacco flower pillows in my Etsy store.

More Ways to Use Rabbit Tobacco

Another traditional and historic way to use Rabbit Tobacco for the lungs is to smoke it. It’s not a true tobacco, but like tobacco it smolders and doesn’t burn. My husband used Rabbit Tobacco in his pipe when he was dealing with chest congestion last year, and he found it very enjoyable, therapeutic, and drying.

Steam or tea is the way to go if you’re looking for the drying effects of rabbit tobacco, but if you want to tap into the antiviral properties of the herb, look into making a tincture with rabbit tobacco. Herbalist Darryl Patton prefers the tincture for fighting viruses over the tea or steam. I’m testing it out this year, and show you how to make a tincture with rabbit tobacco here.

Incredible Natural Remedy Resources

I’ve been SO impressed with the Healthy Living Bundles- they happen each year, and even though there isn’t a sale on now, you can *absolutely* rack up your natural remedy library for under $30! Here are a few favorites I got from past sales.

If you’d like a notification of future sales sign up for my subscriber list here, and I’ll send you a notification!

There are probably dozens of other ways you could use Rabbit Tobacco for acute situations, which is part of the fun and adventure of using herbs- you can experiment to fit your situation: sitz bath, herbal bath, facial steam, or gargles…

These are just a small sampling of the practical “how to’s” in Herbal Beginnings, an e-book by Kami McBride of If you’re new to the world of herbal remedies, or even if you’ve been around it a while, she shares lots of different ways to prepare herbs…some of which I’ve never even considered. I found Kami’s book in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle that’s going on right now.

Herbal Beginnings book

Other Natural Remedies for Congestion

There is SO much variety out there in the world of natural remedies and herbs…what if you don’t have Rabbit Tobacco on hand, but you’re looking for a good natural sinus congestion remedy? The Herbarium has you covered.

The Herbarium is the membership area of the Herbal Academy of New England, and I’m highly impressed!
The 2o15 Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle offer gave you a full year on this beautifully done site and their searchable database of herbal monographs is SO impressive!

A quick search for anticatarrhal (effective against mucous) turned up Elecampane, Damiana, Hibiscus, Elder, and Yarrow as useful alternatives to explore.

herbarium monographs


Have you used Rabbit Tobacco? I’d love to hear about what you’ve observed and your favorite ways to use it.

More in this Rabbit Tobacco Series

Part 1: Meet Rabbit Tobacco- one of my favorite home remedies for nasal congestion
Part 2: Rabbit Tobacco: Where it grows, how to ID & harvest it, and how I prep it for use
Part 4: Making a tincture with Rabbit Tobacco

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Sinus congestion remedies-I'll show you my favorite ways to make and use rabbit tobacco herb for congestion.

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  1. debra haugrud says

    Do you think it would work to make a tincture with the rabbit tobacco leaves and use as a decongestant type remedy? Thanks.

    • says

      I think a tincture is a great idea! I’m going to play with it this fall for viruses. :) I think maybe the steam is going to be more effective as far as being inhaled and directly affecting the sinuses though.

      • debra says

        Thanks for your thoughts. I am hoping that we will not need it much. I will probably make a small bottle of tincture and save the rest for tea or steaming. I appreciate all I have learned from your blog. I have the ingredients for salve and elderberry syrup to start making them now, too!