Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

People suffering from sinus congestion know how uncomfortable the feeling is, to say the least. Sinus congestion makes it difficult for you to sleep; to breathe, and even makes it difficult to go about your daily routine. Repetitive sneezing, pain behind the eyes, red and puffy eyes, drippy noses, tissues, and hankies jammed into our pockets, these are just some of the images that one conjures up on hearing sinus congestion. Extreme pressure, infection, and headaches are just some of the factors that a person suffering from sinus congestion has to deal with. No matter what symptoms you have, sinus congestion leaves you feeling terrible. There is really no treatment for sinus congestion except to manage your symptoms with medications and natural remedies. Many doctors even prescribe a round of antibiotics to deal with the infection faster.

However, if the infection is caused by a virus, then it will render these antibiotics useless and you will be left looking for relief. One such effective and a completely natural remedy is that of essential oils.

What Are The Benefits of Essential Oils?

Essential oils can be used as a natural alternative to using medications. They have been used for thousands of years to support not just physical, but emotional health as well. Over a period of time, people have become wary about using synthetic medications due to the many side effects they carry. Turning to natural solutions such as essential oils has a lot of health benefits.

When suffering from sinus congestion and sinus infections, many people turn towards over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotics or decongestants. However, these medications are not without side effects. In fact, OTC decongestants can often interact with other prescription medicines and are not recommended for many people, such as those suffering from high blood pressure or women who are pregnant. Common Side Effects Of These Medications Include:

  • Drowsiness
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Restlessness and trouble sleeping
  • Rapid heart rate

Using essential oils as a natural treatment for sinus congestion is helpful as it provides relief from symptoms such as:

  • Inflammation
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Cold

Sinus congestion that occurs due to allergies, inflammation, common cold, or even bacteria, can be treated effectively with essential oils.

Is There Any Scientific Evidence to Show That Essential Oils Work?

There is some research, but not a whole lot to show that essential oils are beneficial in sinus congestion. There have been studies that have showed that certain essential oils can help relieve symptoms of sinus congestion. In fact, in 2006, a study found that tea tree oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. Due to the fact that sinus congestion generally tends to occur because of inflammation of the sinus tissue and bacteria, tea tree oil is known to help relieve the symptoms.

In 2009, a study found that the main component of eucalyptus oil, 1,8 cineole, can be used as an effective and perfectly safe treatment for sinusitis. 1,8 cineole is helpful in clearing the air of many microbes and bacteria. The compound also helps in clearing your airways of mucus and acts as a natural cough suppressant, providing immense relief during sinus congestion.

Coming to peppermint oil, the major component of this oil is menthol. Menthol is present in many OTC remedies as well, the primary one being vapor rubs.

If you are using peppermint oil, then it is important to keep in mind that menthol does not actually decrease congestion, but studies have shown that it actually increases it. Menthol works by producing a cooling sensation, which makes users feel like their nasal passages have opened up and they can breathe better. However, the passages still remain congested.

Oregano oil is another essential oil that has proven antifungal and antibacterial properties and is good for sinus congestion.

Which Essential Oils are Best for Nasal Congestion?

Which Essential Oils Are Best for Nasal Congestion?

  1. Tea Tree Oil

    Tea tree essential oil is very effective in clearing sinus congestion. It can also be used for getting relief from cough and sore throat. The leaves and bark of the Melaleuca tree, from which this oil is derived, are known to have both antiseptic and healing properties. Tea tree oil helps eliminate the microbes that are responsible for causing flu and colds. It is necessary to dilute tea tree oil with carrier oil if you are going to be using it topically. You can rub it directly on your chest, behind the ears, and under the nose. You can apply tea tree oil up to 5-6 times a day to help relieve sinus congestion. If you are having excess mucus or a sore throat, then you can add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil in a glass of lukewarm water and gargle with it. Spit out the mixture. Do not swallow the same. Repeated use will help soothe your throat and also thin out the mucus, helping it move out.

  2. Eucalyptus Oil

    The oil derived from the eucalyptus tree has been used for many years by doctors as a cure for many bronchial and chest issues. Eucalyptus essential oil is famous for its antiseptic, antibacterial, and astringent properties. In fact, eucalyptus oil has been used as an antiseptic to prevent infection and reduce the susceptibility to bacteria in the world wars.

    The major compound of this oil is known as eucalyptol has a minty aroma and has a spicy, but cooling, flavor. Eucalyptol is used in many cough syrups and even cough drops. It is known to be rich in antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and even antispasmodic properties. All these properties are extremely helpful in opening blocked airways, reducing the frequency and intensity of a cough, relieving congestion, and even reducing the overproduction of mucus and phlegm.

    If you want to use this topically, then eucalyptus oil also needs to be mixed with a neutral carrier oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil. After mixing it with a carrier oil, you can apply it directly as a vapor rub onto your chest. You can also 25-30 drops of eucalyptus oil with peroxide into a spray bottle and mist it in the air. This helps in eliminating airborne allergens and microbes.

  3. Oregano Oil

    Oregano oil is a versatile and useful essential oil that has been used since ancient times to treat infections. Extracted from fresh oregano leaves, the oil is rick in thymol and carvacrol. These two compounds are proven to have extremely powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties. Carvacrol is effective in fighting bacterial infections, viruses, inflammation, allergies, parasites, fungal infections, and also gives relief in chronic sinus issues.

    Oregano oil works by boosting and strengthening your immune system, as it helps in the productions of white blood cells. It thus prevents and treats infections as it aids in the functioning of these white blood cells as well.

    If you want to use oregano oil topically, then like the other oils, you will need to dilute it with a neutral carrier oil such as olive or jojoba oil. You can then go ahead and apply it around your nose, on your chest, and even behind the ears. It will help reduce production of mucus and also give relief in breathing.

    Unlike other essential oils, it is possible to take oregano oil internally. You can add small amounts of the oil to your food or you can even take it in supplement form.

  4. Thyme Essential Oil

    A member of the mint family, thyme essential oil has a lot of health benefits. The extraction process of thyme oil is quite lengthy and you need a very large amount of plant matter to produce small amounts of the essential oil. Therefore, thyme oil is generally priced higher than the other essential oils on this list. Thyme oil is an excellent antiseptic and has antibacterial and anti-spasmodic properties. It also works well as an expectorant, thus it is highly beneficial in treating sinus pressure and congestion. It is a strong antioxidant and provides support in the functioning of many of the body's systems such as respiratory, nervous, immune, and more.

    Thyme oil also needs to be diluted if you want to apply topically. Carrier oils can be used to mix thyme oil in a ratio of 1:1.

  5. Lemon Essential Oil

    Lemon essential oil is highly beneficial for sinus treatment. This oil supports the lymphatic and respiratory systems and helps the body dissolve mucus and provide relief from sinus congestion. Lemon essential oil is also known to strengthen the immune system and prevent future occurrences of illness. Apart from this, lemons are also known to have potent anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. They are rich in citric acid, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and calcium. All these factors make lemon essential oil a strong germ fighter.

    You can use lemon essential oil in many ways. The moment you first notice the sign of sinus pressure or congestion, rub a small amount of lemon oil on the chest and throat. The oil, like the ones discussed above, needs to be mixed with carrier oil. If you repeat this procedure a couple of times throughout the day, you will get immediate relief.

    Lemon essential oil can also be ingested without dilution. You can mix it in a cup of hot tea along with honey to soothe any upper respiratory issues.

How To Use These Essential Oils To Get Relief From Sinus Congestion?

Now that we have gone through some of the best essential oils to use for sinus congestion, let us take a look at what would be the proper manner in which to use them. The best way to benefit from these essential oils for reliving sinus congestion is through inhalation. There are many ways this can be done.

The first way is through steam inhalation. This process involves mixing essential oils with hot water in order to produce therapeutic steam. Add 3 to 7 drops of the chosen essential oil to boiling water. Cover your head with a towel and breathe in the steam through your nose. Close your eyes to prevent any irritation to the eyes.

You can also directly inhale the essential oil straight from the bottle. It is also possible to add a couple of drops of the oil to a cotton ball, inhaler tube, or a handkerchief, and then take a deep breath in.

If you prefer taking an aromatherapy bath, then you can also add a couple of drops of the chosen essential oil to your warm bathwater.

The best way, however, of benefiting from essential oil is to use a diffuser. A diffuser disperses the oil throughout the air, and also allows the oil to become diluted before you inhale it.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: October 23, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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