‘Tuob’ as cure or prevention vs COVID-19? Here’s what health experts are saying

April 12, 2021 - 6:02 PM
Steam inhalation therapy
A water infused with herbs used for steam inhalation therapy. (Image by Couleur from Pixabay)

As some Filipinos continue to tout “tuob” or steam inhalation as a cure for COVID-19, different health agencies have shared their views on the practice initially used as a home remedy for common colds.

“Tuob” or “suob” has been claimed to cure the viral disease since last year but it only serves to relieve clogged nose. Some also use it as a therapy for nasal allergies or sinus infections.

The practice involves inhaling steam from a bowl of boiled water— sometimes infused with salt, lemon, eucalyptus oil or other herbs—while covering one’s head to induce sweat.

It is a home remedy that can help loosen mucus secretions and eventually clear up nasal respiratory passages.

Others who have dry cough also resort to this practice.

Last year, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia issued a memorandum encouraging officials of Cebu City to practice “tuob” in their workstations twice a day.

The memorandum stated that it is a “wellness program for Cebu Provincial Capitol to employees to combat against COVID-19 pandemic.”

It was issued when the city was feared to become the next “hotspot” of the virus in the country due to the rising cases at that time.

A doctor criticized the initiative but Garcia only shamed the physician through her Facebook page.

A pulmonologist and biochemist said that while doctors understand “tuob” can provide relief to nasal congestion, it shouldn’t be considered as a specific treatment for COVID-19 since it does not kill the virus.

“It is not a cure for COVID-19. That is not proven,” Dr. Earl Louis Sempio told ABS-CBN last November.

He added that camphor or menthol, which are ingredients that some people infuse in the “tuob” mixture, can trigger the excretion of mucus or even inflammation if inhaled in excess.

“There are different effects of menthol. We never exactly know the potential effects,” Sempio said.

“Tuob” has helped some Filipinos who have been infected with the virus before.

An overseas Filipino worker shared that she did the steam inhalation and claimed that it helped her cope with the respiratory symptoms.

A couple vlogger, who are COVID-19 survivors, also shared that it likewise helped them alleviate their symptoms.

Last year, the Department of Health released an advisory about “tuob” and said that it is not a cure nor a preventive measure specifically against the virus.

The agency added that there is a possibility that particles containing the virus could linger in the steam and infect others, especially if the persons are in an enclosed area.


The World Health Organization also warned that “tuob” could potentially cause burn injuries if one is not too careful with handling boiling water.

“Salt water steam will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Extremely hot steam can be harmful, as there is a risk of burn injury,” it said in a post last year.