If you have a stuffy nose you will usually experience a feeling of blockage or fullness of the nose due to inflammation and swelling of the inner lining of the nose. This swelling usually occurs because of inflamed blood vessels.
There can be a variety of accompanying symptoms such assneezing, a runny nose, post-nasal drip (excess mucus dripping down the back of the throat) causing sore throat and cough, and headaches and facial pain (especially in conjunction with a sinus infection, for which we covered some of the best essential oils for sinus infection).
What causes a stuffy nose?
There are various causes of stuffy nose, including but not limited to the follwoing:
- Common cold
- Sinus infection
- Allergic reactions such as hay fever (Allergic rhinitis). Often occuring in conjunction with allergies to dust, pollen, pets etc.
- Deviated nasal septum
- Rhinitis medicamentosa: Reversed nasal congestion due to prolonged (more than 3 days) use of nasal decongestants.
- Cigarette smoking
- Nasal polyps
Role of Essential Oils for Stuffy Nose symptom relief
Essential oils have long been recognized as an effective remedy for a stuffy nose. This article highlights the top 6 essential oils for stuffy nose relief which are followed by the various techniques and methods to use them.
Eucalyptus oil extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree is a native plant to Australia and a few of the islands of South East Asia. It is the main food eaten by Koalas and has been used by indigenous people there for thousands of years to help cure ailments. Essential oils distilled from the leaves of the tree have powerful medicinal characteristics and are an effective treatment for a stuffy nose.
It contains cineole, that not only imparts the pleasant, calming aroma to the oil, but also possesses anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. With regards to curing stuffy noses these ingredients help reduce the excessive production of mucus in the airways and clearing up the nasal passages.
Depending on the type of nasal congestion you are experiencing, eucalyptus essential oil can also help in fighting viral and bacterial infections. Scientific studies show that eucalyptus oil has anti-viral and anti-bacterial characteristics, thereby helping with the cold and flu virus-induced nasal congestion. It’s a versatile oil that can help relieving nasal congestion as well as fighting the cause of the stuffy nose directly.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Originally from Australia and used by the indigenous people there for thousands of years to treat ailments. Tea tree oil is derived from distillation of the Melaleuca alternifolia’s leaves is highly beneficial for reducing the nasal stuffiness. Tea tree oil is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and has proven effective in studies testing the essential oil against the flu. Moreover it is also anti-inflammatory and therefore can reduce the nasal congestion and can act as a perfect essential oil relief for stuffy nose. Tea Tree oil also helps to loosen and remove excess mucus from the respiratory tract.
Peppermint essential oil is created when distilling peppermint leaves. It is often used in cooking to give foods a ‘minty’ flavor. The strong minty aroma of this oil is due to the presence of menthol. The individual constituents of peppermint essential oils are often used in various products to aid with the flow of breathing and can therefore are an ideal oil to use for nasal congestion relief.
This fact is supported by other studies that reveal the existence of menthol receptors on the nerves supplying the nose that transmit the cooling sensation from the nose to the brain. The menthol inhaled from the peppermint oil binds to these receptors and induces a cooling effect, loosening the phlegm, easing the stuffy nose and improving general breathing. This is often a reason for including Peppermint in chest rubs and vapor rubs, but you can just as easily include them in your pure essential oil remedies for stuffy nose and nasal congestion.
4. Lavender Oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils throughout the world today. Of the many benefits the oil provides, the most valuable for stuffy noses and nasal congestion is its ability to loosen and expel mucus.
Many of the components of Lavender oil (such as camphor) have proven anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties and the essential oil is therefore ideal to reduce swelling which causes a stuffy nose.
Black seed oil comes from the Nigella Sativa plant and has many different names: Black Cumin, Roman Coriander, Black Sesame, Black Caraway. The essential oil is prepared from the leaves of the Nigella Sativa plant and is touted as a remedy for almost all ailments. It is also heavily researched for links in reducing cancer prevalence in mice.
Separate studies have shown that black seed oil has helped relieve stuffy noses and nasal congestion in patients with allergic rhinitis. It reduces nasal congestion, sneezing, itching and other symptoms associated with stuffy nose and nasal congestion.
6. Clove Oil
Clove oil which is extracted from a clove plant is a well-known remedy for nasal congestion.
Clove oil has been found to have anti- inflammatory functions which can aid in reducing the symptoms of a stuffy nose by reducing the inflammation of the nasal cavities. The antibacterial activity of clove oil hastens recovery from sinus infection triggered by bacteria. Thus, if a stuffy nose is due to a sinus infection, the clove oil has the potential to help cure it.
Moreover, the clove oil is also protective against the flu virus as shown in this clinical study of an essential oil blend with one of its components being clove oil (and others being cinnamon, eucalyptus, wild orange and rosemary essential oils).
Essential 0il-Based Recipes for a Stuffy Nose
1. Steam Inhalation
What you’ll need:
- Freshly Boiled water
- A large bowl
- A large towel
- 2-3 drops of any of the essential oils as mentioned above (combining at least 2 oils would be best)
- Pour the hot, boiled water into a bowl.
- Add 1-2 drops of each essential oil in the bowl. Be careful that the water is not too hot as it can damage the insides of your nostrils when too hot.
- Cover your head with a towel so the hot cannot escape.
- Tilt your head forward over the bowl. Be sure to keep a safe distance from the steam.
- Inhale the oil-infused steam, emitting from the bowl for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Top up hot water as desired.
2. Sinus irrigation
What you’ll need:
- A nasal irrigation bottle or netipot
- Distilled, sterilized warm water
- 1 saline sachet or cooking salt
- 1 drop of any of the oils listed
How to use:
- Fill your sinus rinse bottle with water and saline
- Add 1 drop of blended oils (like for instance a drop of eucalyptus and lavender oil)
- Shake the bottle well and make sure the water is not too hot.
- Bend your head over the basin
- Gently squeeze the bottle into one of the nostrils, using at least one-quarter of the solution, while keeping your mouth opened
- Blow your nose gently
- Repeat the same steps with the other nostril
3. Direct Application
When feeling under the weather, try applying a few drops of your favorite essential oil around your nose and massage gently before going to bed. If necessary dilute with jojoba, coconut or other carrier oils before application.
4. Aromatherapy via an Essential Oil Diffuser
Several diffusers are available in stores that function to disperse the oil into the air once placed on an atomizer.
How to use:
- Place an essential oil bottle onto the atomizer (it is ideal if the bottle contains a blend of 3-4 oils)
- Enjoy the relaxing aroma while breathing deeply.
5. Aromatherapy Inhaler
Another method is to use specifically designed essential oil inhalers.
How to use:
- In a bowl, pour about 12-15 drops of any of the above listed oils.
- Soak the cotton wick of the inhaler in the oil (preferably using a tweezer).
- Drop the cotton wick into the inner tube of the inhaler.
- Seal it with the given cap.
- With the inhaler’s nozzle pointing towards the nose, inhale deeply.
- Use as needed throughout the day
6. Essential Oil Bath Therapy
How to use:
- Fill your bath tub with hot water that is comfortable for you.
- Sprinkle 7-10 drops of any essential oil in it.
- Swish the water with your hand.
- Lay down and reap the benefits of this bath therapy.
Essential oils are an effective, safer and cheaper treatment to tackle a stuffy nose. Your body will find some essential oils more effective than others, so it’s worth experimenting and trying out different combinations. Whether you need relief throughout the day or a good session to clear out all the ‘junk’, essential oils can help relieve the symptoms and even cure a reoccurring stuffy nose with regular applications.