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These Are The Best Essential Oils For Fighting Congestion

Feeling stuffed up? Find out which essential oils can help and how to use them!

Jill Nystul • March 18, 2022

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023

Jill Nystul • December 20, 2023


Sinus congestion is rarely a “serious” ailment, but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable! Having a stuffy nose can make it difficult to breathe and sleep, and can even lead to painful pressure behind your eyes and cheeks or a sore throat.

Congestion can be a symptom of the common cold, the flu, allergies, and sinus infections. And while treating congestion won’t necessarily solve the larger issue, it can make a world of difference in making you feel less miserable!

One of the best tools we have at our disposal for relieving congestion naturally is essential oils. Not only are they a powerful source of aromatherapy, several oils have properties that can help you get back to breathing normal in no time at all!

In today’s post, we’ll be exploring the best essential oils for treating congestion, as well as some easy ways to use them so you can kick congestion to the curb and get back on your feet.

The 4 Best Essential Oils For Sinus Congestion

Essential oils can help fight congestion in a couple of different ways. Antimicrobial oils like peppermint and tea tree can help the inhibit growth of bacteria and viruses, while anti-inflammatory oils like eucalyptus and lavender can help reduce swelling in the nasal passages to improve airflow.


1. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint essential oil has two main features that make it excellent for treating congestion: its antibacterial properties and the fact that it contains menthol. Menthol is known for having a soothing effect on stuffy noses and chest congestion, and peppermint’s antibacterial properties may work by fighting the bacteria that can trigger sinus congestion in the first place.


2. Eucalyptus Oil

Many over-the-counter products that help alleviate congestion (like chest rubs for a cough) contain eucalyptus oil in their formulas. One of the primary active components of eucalyptus essential oil is a compound called cineole, which a 2009 study determined made an effective treatment for participants with acute rhinosinusitis due to a cold or sinus infection.


3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree essential oil is well-known for powerful antimicrobial properties as well as its ability to reduce inflammation. Both effects can be helpful when it comes to congestion relief.


4. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is great for reducing swelling, but there’s also evidence to suggest it can help reduce pain as well. A 2015 animal study concluded that lavender essential oil may have analgesic (or pain-relieving) effects in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Defend Essential Oil Blend – Defend features both eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil, as well as other oils that can help support your immune system (like antibacterial rosemary essential oil). It’s my go-to blend to use when I’m trying to keep myself healthy, but I also use it when I do get sick to relieve my symptoms and get back on my feet.
  • Complete Relief Essential Oil Blend – Complete Relief is formulated with analgesic essential oils that can soothe a headache. Since sinus congestion and head pain often go hand in hand, this is another oil blend worth having on hand so that you’re prepared in the event congestion rears its ugly head.

How To Use Essential Oils To Relieve Congestion

The best way to take advantage of essential oils for congestion is to inhale the aroma through your nose, either from a diffuser, straight from the bottle, or while taking a bath or shower. By breathing in the beneficial properties of the oils, they can get to work in both your nasal passages and respiratory tract fast.


1. Diffuse Them

Using an ultrasonic diffuser is one of the easiest ways to experience the benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils. Just add the recommended amount of water to the reservoir, add the recommended number of drops of essential oils, and turn it on! You’ll be breathing easier in no time.


2. Inhale Them

When you’re away from your diffuser, the simplest way to use essential oils to relieve congestion is to just inhale the aroma right out of the bottle. You can also make a simple aromatherapy inhaler, a DIY “breathe jar,” or even make some essential oil-infused tissues to take along when you’re out and about.


3. Add Them To A Bath

There’s nothing quite like a warm bath to make yourself feel better when you’re sick, and you can make it an even more soothing and regenerative experience by incorporating essential oils into your bath. Instead of adding oils directly to the water, mix 5-8 drops of essential oil into 1 cup of Epsom salt, then add the oil-infused salt to your bath water. This simplified version of steam inhalation can be an excellent natural way to find sinus relief.


Essential Oil Safety Tips

  • Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying them to your skin to avoid irritation and inflammation.
  • Avoid ingesting essential oils, which can have unpleasant side effects.
  • Avoid applying essential oils to the inside of the nose. The nasal passages are sensitive and it could turn into a painful experience!
  • When diffusing essential oils, always be mindful of who else is in the room with you. I recommend you always use your diffuser with the door open, to allow for airflow in and out of the room and to give pets the option to leave if the smell gets too strong.

Other Ways To Relieve Congestion

Essential oils may be a convenient natural remedy for congestion, but they aren’t the only option! Here are a few others worth considering:

  • Use A Humidifier. Congestion can be worsened by dry nasal passages, so use a humidifier to add moisture back into the air (especially if you’re experiencing congestion overnight.)
  • Use A Neti Pot. A Neti pot may help reduce nasal congestion by flushing excess mucus out of your sinuses. Be sure to follow the directions that come with your Neti pot carefully in order to use it safely.
  • Use A Warm Compress. Place a warm compress (which can be as simple as a washcloth dampened with warm water) against your forehead and nose for several minutes to ease sinus pressure and pain.
  • Avoid Junk Food. When you’re congested, the last thing you need is more mucus to deal with! Dairy, chocolate, and processed foods can increase mucus production, so avoid them if you can.
  • Stay Hydrated. As gross as it is to think about, the consistency of the mucus in your nose is tied to your overall hydration. Drinking enough water will help thin your nasal mucus and reduce congestion (because it’s better to deal with a runny nose than not be able to breathe at all!)

Do you have any tips or tricks for dealing with congestion?