Essential Oils for Nasal Congestion
A stuffy nose can be a real day-ruiner. It’s not so serious that you need to seek medical attention, but it’s just uncomfortable enough to distract you from what you need to get done or enjoying the things you normally would.
It’s usually caused by something else that’s equally mild and annoying, such as allergies or the common cold, and so most people adopt a suck-it-up attitude towards the symptoms and simply try to push through the day in the hopes that the problem will correct itself over time. There are some simple things you can do, however, to relieve your nasal congestion.
A myriad of essential oils available on the market can help alleviate your symptoms quickly, easily, and effectively, no doctor's visits or invasive treatments required. Here are some of our favorites.
Essential Oils For Stuffy Nose
Peppermint oil is a great way to clear up any respiratory issues thanks to its high menthol content. It also smells great, helps wake you up, and can help with a wide variety of other conditions such as stomachache or sore muscles, making it a great staple to have in any medicine cabinet.
HOW TO USE
- Rubbing a couple drops on the chest can help relieve sinus or lung congestion
- Adding a couple drops into a pot of boiling water and inhaling the steam helps with head colds and excessive coughing
- Placing a few drops in a humidifier can help with milder symptoms
Use caution with peppermint oil, however. It’s much stronger and more intense than other essential oils, so only a few drops at a time should be used, and it’s important to dilute it before use.
It’s safe to use on the skin, but if undiluted, some people report a burning feeling or rash on the skin where it was applied. It’s also not recommended to use peppermint oil on young children.
Eucalyptus oil has a long history of use in the medical community, from the Aboriginal communities in Australia to hospitals in both world wars. It has many antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, so not only will it help relieve your symptoms, it will help treat the underlying condition as well. Eucalyptus smells and acts similar to peppermint in terms of relieving nasal congestion symptoms.
HOW TO USE
- Adding a few drops to a steaming hot bath and inhaling the vapors helps clear the nasal passages. You can sit in the tub for an extra dose of eucalyptus, or simply inhale the steam for a quicker fix
- Like peppermint oil, a few drops can be applied to the chest and throat
- Eucalyptus oil can be applied directly around the nasal passages; however no more than a couple drops should be applied
Eucalyptus oil isn’t quite as concentrated as peppermint oil, but it is still very strong and should be diluted with carrier oils such as castor or jojoba.
It is not recommended for use on children, those with asthma, or women who are pregnant. Eucalyptus oil should never be consumed directly. As little as 3.5 mL of this essential oil can be fatal.(1)
Though it doesn’t smell as minty as the last two oils, thyme actually comes from the mint family as well. Long recognized for its medicinal properties, thyme contains high amounts of carvacrol, a compound which stops bacteria from multiplying. This makes it great for those suffering from pneumonia or other bacterial infections.
HOW TO USE
- Thyme oil can be applied immediately to the affected area. A few drops of coconut or other carrier oil can help it absorb more effectively, but there’s no real risk of burning the skin
- When mixed with a small cup of warm water, it can be used as a mouthwash
- Because of its strong herbal flavor, a few drops of thyme oil can be added to savory dishes to increase flavor as well as health benefits
Thyme oil is very safe to use; however those who have high blood pressure should avoid using it since it promotes circulation. Pregnant women may also want to avoid using this oil, as it simulates menstrual flow.
It is safer to use on children than other, stronger oils, but should still be diluted beforehand since children are naturally more sensitive.
Lemon oil is fantastic for nasal congestion because the high acid content of lemons help to break up mucus and other buildups. The vitamin C and citric acid also helps to boost the immune system and fight off germs, toxins, and bacteria.
HOW TO USE
- Lemon oil is safe for congestion. Adding a few drops to tea and honey is a wonderful way to improve nasal congestion and help the body drain excess mucus
- A few drops of lemon oil in a humidifier not only gives your nose the benefits, but also helps to clear toxins from the room, helping you to get better sooner
- Lemon oil can also be added to a load of laundry. Doing this not only helps relieve your symptoms by indirect contact with the skin once you put the clothes on, it’s also great as a stain remover
Lemon oil is among the safest essential oils to use, and no group in particular need avoid it. However, some studies and plenty of anecdotal evidence has shown that citrus oils can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.
When used in true moderation and ensuring that you’re only using high quality oils, you’re unlikely to experience any real problems, but it can be easy to overdo it, so caution should still be used.
5. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is so well known for its antiseptic properties that it was actually used in hospitals during both world wars before penicillin was discovered.
Like eucalyptus oil, it can relieve your nasal congestion by going straight to the source of the problem and cleansing the body of the buildup-causing bacteria and toxins.
HOW TO USE
- Diluted tea tree oil can be applied directly to the chest, throat, or behind the ears to generate long lasting relief. However, tea tree oil is extremely strong-smelling, so some people may not enjoy this experience quite as much
- One drop of tea tree oil can be mixed into shampoo to reap the benefits of use on the skin without the smell being overbearing
- Tea tree oil can be mixed with water and apple cider vinegar to make a surface cleaner for your household. This helps to clean the space of any germs and toxins that might be causing your symptoms
While tea tree oil is generally considered safe to use, it should never be ingested directly, as it is toxic when swallowed. It is also recommended that you do a patch test on your skin before use, because some individuals are especially sensitive to this very intense oil.
Oregano oil, like thyme oil, contains high amounts of cavracol and thymol, making it one of nature’s most powerful and versatile antibiotics.
It’s great for a number of ailments, nasal congestion being one of them, and it will also help to boost your immune system by improving white blood cell function.
HOW TO USE
- Oregano oil is safe for consumption, and has a nice herbal flavor. A few drops of this oil can be used to season food
- A one-to-one mix of oregano and olive oil placed under the tongue and held for a few minutes can provide fast relief
- Oregano oil is also sold in capsule form at fairly inexpensive rates
Oregano oil is among the more intense varities found on this list. While it is safe for all individuals except those who are allergic to the plant, it should always be diluted first.
There’s a reason that lavender is such a popular ingredient for household cleaners, laundry detergents, etc. Besides the pleasant smell and potential calming and mentally cleansing effects, it helps boost circulation and break down mucus buildups in the body.(2)
This makes it a great option for helping reduce your nasal congestion. Lavender’s soothing effects may also help you fight off illness more quickly, since stress and illness often go hand in hand.
HOW TO USE
- Lavender oil is extremely mild, and therefore can be directly inhaled from the bottle
- A few drops of lavender oil on the wrists and behind the ears can be used for both symptom relief, and as a subtle perfume
- When placed in a humidifier, lavender oil will not only make the room smell better, it will also improve your quality of sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential to beating any illness quickly
Lavender oil can be used almost anywhere on the body without being diluted, thanks to its mildness and gentleness. There is almost no risk of negative side effects.
Some doctors suggest that because it relaxes your central nervous system so much, it should not be used prior to undergoing general anesthesia; however, there has been little scientific inquiry as to whether or not this is the case.
Another oil on the list that frankly smells fantastic, cinnamon oil is often used in aromatherapy to treat the common cold and relieve mucus buildups, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help open up the blood vessels, improving circulation and helping your body drain excess fluids.
HOW TO USE
- High-quality cinnamon oil can be added to food. Because cinnamon oil has also been shown to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings, doing so may also lead to a healthier diet, helping you to fight off illness more quickly
- When used in a bath, inhaling the steam will allow you to reap all of cinnamon oil’s benefits. It also plays well with other oils such as lemon and orange.
- When combined with honey, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar, cinnamon oil makes a great face wash that allows direct contact with the skin in a safe manner. This can be great for not only your nasal congestion, but your skin as well
Cinnamon oil is regarded as safe for both use and consumption (when high-quality oil is used); however, thanks to its effect on blood sugar, those with diabetes should be mindful when using this oil. It may also be risky for those with liver issues. (3)
When using any essential oils, it is important to make sure you are diluting when necessary, only consuming those that are FDA-approved for consumption, and watching carefully for any negative side effects.
When used safely and correctly, however, use of essential oils can work wonders for curing illness and alleviating symptoms that are mild yet annoying, such as a stuffy nose. They’re certainly much easier and more pleasant than a trip to the doctor’s office!
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