The stuffy or congested nose is uncomfortable, to say the least.
A stuffy nose makes it difficult to breathe, sleep, and talk.
For people with sinusitis infection, a congested nose can cause painful pressure behind the eyes and may also cause running nose and heavy coughs.
Some of the essential oils are beneficial for clearing up a congested nose and relieving the breathing difficulties associated with it.
What is a stuffy nose or nose congestion?
A stuffy or congested nose happens when the tissues lining the nose become swollen.
It is the inflamed blood vessels in the nose that cause the swelling. When you have a stuffy nose, you could also be having a runny nose in most cases.
Nasal congestion is another word for stuffy nose.
Some of the prominent characteristics of nasal congestion are:
- Stuffy or a runny nose
- Mucus build-up
- Sinus pain
- Inflamed nasal tissues
Causes of Nasal Congestion
Minor infection affecting the nose is the most common cause of nasal congestion. For example, infections like the common cold, flu, or sinusitis can cause nasal congestion.
However, nasal congestion that lasts more than a week is often a symptom of a serious health condition. Long-term or recurring incidences of the stuffy nose may be caused by:
- Hay fever
- Irritants from the environment
- Growth of nasal polyps or tumors in the nasal passage
- Deviated nasal septum
- Rhinitis medicamentosa
- Cigarette smoking
- Chronic sinusitis
- Exposure to chemical substances or dust
Pregnant women might get stuffy noses towards the end of the first trimester. It happens because of increased blood circulation and hormonal fluctuations which make the nasal membranes dry or inflamed.
Benefits of using essential oils for a stuffy nose
Essential oils contain natural therapeutic properties that can be used as substitutes for prescription medicines.
Aromatherapy is a well-established medical practice that solely makes use of various essential oils for curing different diseases.
Some of the essential oils may help in relieving congestion and clearing up a stuffy nose.
Natural remedies like essential oils are mostly free of side effects, unlike synthetic medicines.
There aren’t many scientific studies on the medicinal value of these oils. However, they are trustworthy remedies as they have been in use for 100s of years.
Most people make use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for clearing a stuffy nose. But many of those OTC medicines have some side effects that may jeopardize a person’s health if used for a long period.
Prescription medicines and OTC products are not meant for people already with multiple health conditions. For such people, natural remedies like essential oils are a boon.
Essential oils are beneficial for clearing nose congestion to occur due to:
- Common cold
What do the studies say about essential oils?
Unfortunately, there are only a few researches done on essential oils regarding their therapeutic potency in clearing up a stuffy nose.
A few of the recent researches point out that some of the essential oils may relieve nasal congestion.
According to a study report by Clinical Microbiology Reviews tea tree oil contain anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties. This oil can help in removing nasal congestion caused by inflammation and bacteria.
The menthol contained in peppermint oil is a key ingredient in most of the OTC remedies for nasal congestion, such as vapor-rubs, lozenges, and nasal inhalers. However, a recent study by Current Allergy and Asthma Reports says that Menthol contained in peppermint oil may not help in decreasing the congestion.
A report published by Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, suggests the existence of antimicrobial and antioxidant properties in Oregano oil is useful for fighting microbial infections that cause congestion. Aromatherapy experts have proven test reports that suggest the efficacy of oregano oil in clearing up a stuffy nose.
According to a 2009 study, 1,8 cineole found in eucalyptus oil is safe and effective for the treatment of sinusitis that does not involve antibiotics.
A report published by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) 1,8 cineole compound in Eucalyptus oil helps to remove the bacteria and other microbes that cause inflammation in the nasal passage. It is a natural cough suppressant that can also loosen up the mucus.
9 Essential Oils for Nasal Congestion Relief
Essential oils are considered to be one of the safest natural remedies for a stuffy nose.
Any of the essential oils that have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiallergenic properties can be used for clearing a blockage in the nose caused by infections.
We have chosen 9 essential oils for nasal congestion that have proven effects.
1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus oil is a well-known oil used for treating a stuffy nose. This oil has tremendous potential in clearing the blockage in the nose caused by swelling of blood vessels in the nose.
Eucalyptus oil contains a compound known as cineole, also known as Eucalyptol, which is a powerful decongestant with anti-inflammatory qualities.
Eucalyptus oil is effective for protecting the body from viral and bacterial infections that cause nasal congestion.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil for nasal congestion works because of the powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory compounds in it.
This oil can quickly eliminate the microbial infections that cause inflammation in the nose.
Tea tree oil also helps to loosen the thick mucus that may cause congestion in the respiratory tract and nose.
3. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is the most versatile oil among all the essential oils.
Inhaling lavender oil has a quick effect on loosening the thick mucus that blocks the nasal and respiratory passages.
The anti-inflammatory properties of lavender oil help in reducing swelling in the nose that makes the nose stuffy.
4. Clove Oil
Clove oil contains a rich amount of eugenol, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound.
It is a highly versatile oil extensively used in many modern medical treatments.
It is a fantastic remedy for clearing nasal congestion and reducing the symptoms of sinusitis.
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of this oil help in reducing inflammation in the nasal cavities.
Clove oil is one of the chief ingredients in many of the natural remedies and essential oil blends used for stuffy nose, flu, sore throat, sinusitis, common cold, and influenza.
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
The menthol contained in peppermint essential oil is a commonly found ingredient in many of the OTC medicines available for throat and nose congestion.
Menthol has long been used to improve breathing difficulties and soothe a sore throat.
Inhaling peppermint oil transmits menthol to the exteroceptors in the nose and this, in turn, transmits a cooling sensation from the nose to the brain. This produces a sensory reaction in the nose resulting in the loosening of the thick mucus in the nose.
However, some of the recent studies suggest that menthol has hardly any effect in removing nasal congestion.
6. Black Cumin Oil
The essential oil obtained from black cumin, also known as black seed, Roman coriander, or black sesame, contains potential medicinal properties beneficial for treating inflammatory conditions and bacterial infections.
According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, the black seed oil is effective against multi-drug resistant strains of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus.
Black seed oil may help in clearing stuffy noses and nasal congestion in patients with allergic rhinitis.
7. Lemon Oil
Lemon is rich in anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds.
The therapeutic components in the oil aid the respiratory and lymphatic systems by helping the body to break down and release mucus and relieve congestion.
This oil also boosts the immune system to fight against viral and bacterial infections that cause the common cold, sinusitis, flu, and sore throat.
8. Frankincense Oil
Frankincense oil contains expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties useful for relieving nasal and throat congestion.
It helps to loosen the phlegm in your respiratory tracts and relaxes the lung muscles to make breathing easy and comfortable.
9. Rosemary Oil
Many of the home remedies used for fighting common colds and cough usually have Rosemary oil as a chief ingredient.
The antibacterial elements in this oil resist and expel the bacteria that cause chronic congestion.
It helps to relieve inflamed nasal passages and loosen up the mucus in the nasal passage and respiratory tract.
How to use essential oils for clearing stuffy nose?
You can effectively make use of essential oils for getting rid of nasal congestion in multiple ways. Here are some of the most effective ways to use essential oils:
Inhalation is the easiest way to use essential oils to relieve a stuffy nose. There are different methods to inhale essential oils.
Add 5 drops of essential oil to a pot of boiling water. Bend your face towards the pot and use a sufficiently big cotton towel to cover your head and the pot together. Then gradually breathe in the vapors rising from the pot. Let the treatment session last for about 3 minutes each time. Keep your eyes closed to prevent eye irritation.
Open the lid of the essential oil bottle and directly inhale the aroma of the oil right from the bottle for 2 minutes. Alternatively, apply few drops of pure essential oils to a cotton ball or handkerchief and then inhale the aroma of the oil from it. You can also take a few drops of essential oil in an inhaler tube for inhaling.
Using A Diffuser
You can use an essential oil diffuser to dispense the oil particles in your bedroom or living room.
2. Essential Oil Bath
You can add a few drops of essential oils to your warm bath water and keep your body immersed in this water for 15 minutes. This method allows the natural chemical properties of the oil to gradually penetrate your bloodstream.
3. Essential Oil Massage
Add a few drops of essential oil to any carrier oil or massage oil. Use this oil blend for massaging your chest, forehead, temples, back of the neck, and throat for relieving congestion.
Risks and warnings
Some of the risks associated with essential oil remedies are:
- Using essential oils in undiluted form can cause skin irritation and burns
- Most of the essential oils are not fit for ingesting as they can cause dangerous health conditions
- Dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil or distilled water before directly applying them to the skin
- Reckless use of essential oils can cause side effects such as burns, nausea, irritation, dizziness, rashes, headache, gastric problems, or itching.
- Do a skin patch test before applying essential oils to the skin
- Essential oils may interact with a few of the prescription medicines
- Avoid using essential oils for treating babies and pregnant women
- Use the best quality essential oils for treatment; procure the pure quality oil from reliable sources.
The Bottom Line
There are many good essential oils that work for relieving nasal congestion or stuffy nose. They are good decongestants because of their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and decongestant properties.
Using them moderately and in diluted form for a brief period is safe and effective.
Do not ingest essential oils as most of them contain powerful compounds that can cause health issues.
If you do not get expected relief from the stuffy nose after using any of the essential oils, you should consult a doctor for further treatment.