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Using Essential Oils for Congestion Relief

Using essential oils for congestion relief can help you feel better while dealing with cold, flu, allergies, or other conditions. When nasal and adjacent tissues and blood vessels swell, they produce sinus congestion (also called catarrh or a stuffy nose) that may or may not include a nasal discharge or "runny nose."

Essential oil blends aim to bring some symptom relief and may promote faster healing. This article includes blends you can use for steam inhalation, diffusers and inhalers, chest rubs, and bath and massage.

Diagram of nasal passages with the words How to Use Essential Oils for Congestion Relief

Steam Inhalation

A common way to use essential oil for sinus congestion is steam inhalation. It has the added benefit of adding moisture to nasal passages, which become dry.

To do a steam, use a bowl of steaming (not boiling) water. Close your eyes and lean over the bowl to breathe in the steam. You can drape a towel over your head and create a tent to keep the steam inside. Make sure the water is NOT so hot that it burns.

Sinus Congestion Relief Stock Blend

Blend the following essential oils in a 5-ml dark-color dropper bottle:

  • 25 drops cypress
  • 25 drops eucalyptus radiata
  • 25 drops tea tree

Add 1 drop of your stock blend to the water. If you accidentally add more than 1 drop, set that bowl aside and let it diffuse into the air. Start with a fresh bowl of steaming water, and try again. Using too much of this blend may lead to more congestion.

Source: Aromahead

Two-Use Steam Inhalation Blend

Blend the following essential oils:

  • 2 drops rosemary
  • 1 drop peppermint
  • 1 drop tea tree
  • 1 drop eucalyptus radiata
  • 2 drops cardamon

Use 3 to 4 drops in a bowl of water.

Source: The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Inhaler and Diffuser Essential Oils for Congestion

Nasal Congestion Relief Inhaler

  • 5 drops eucalyptus globulus essential oil
  • 5 drops white pine essential oil
  • 5 drops ravintsara essential oil
  • One blank aromatherapy inhaler

Add drops directly to the blank cotton component of the aromatherapy inhaler. Attach the lid.

Use as needed to relieve congestion and pain associated with sinus colds. To avoid spreading germs, only one person should use an inhaler.

Source: Essential Living

Breathe Easy Blend 1

This aromatherapy diffuser blend helps clear the head and sinuses.

  • 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil

Breathe Easy Blend 2

This diffuser blend helps clear sinuses and reduce the symptoms of hay fever and allergies.

  • 2 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 1 drop peppermint essential oil

Source: 100 Amazing Blends and Uses of Essential Oils. Notes for both blends: Do not use during pregnancy. Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils may interfere with the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies.

Allergy Congestion Relief

Blend the following essential oils in a 5-ml dark-color dropper bottle:

  • 25 drops lavender
  • 25 drops roman chamomile
  • 25 drops eucalyptus radiata
  • 25 drops ginger
  • 25 drops peppermint

Ways to use:

  • Diffuse 5 to 10 drops in an aromatherapy diffuser, according to manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Place 2 to 3 drops on a tissue, cotton ball, or aromatherapy inhaler and inhale.
  • Add 2 to 3 drops to a quarter-size amount of lotion or carrier oil. Apply to neck and chest.

Cautions: Avoid eyes and mucous membranes. For partial body application only. Do not use over large areas of the body. Do not use on the faces of infants and children.

Adapted from "Spring Allergy Blend" by Annette Davis in NAHA Aromatherapy Journal, Spring 2017.1, p. 70.

Congestion Relief Rubs

 Chest Rub for Catarrh

  • 4 tablespoons carrier oil
  • 20 drops eucalyptus radiata (or globulus) essential oil
  • 5 drops basil essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops cedarwood essential oil

Blend oils in a dark-colored glass bottle. Shake well. Use by rubbing a little of the blend on the upper chest, throat, back of the neck, and between the shoulder blades. Use 2 or 3 times a day.

Source: Aromatherapy: A Holistic Guide to Natural Healing with Essential Oils

Chest and Back Rub

  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 2 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus radiata essential oil
  • 1 drop thyme linalol essential oil
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons carrier oil

Mix ingredients in a glass bottle. Rub a little of the blend onto your chest and upper back.

Adapted from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.

For more essential oils for congestion relief, see Homemade Vapor Rubs.

Massage and Bath Blend

Combine the following essential oils in a 5-ml dark-color dropper bottle:

  • 16 drops eucalyptus radiata
  • 12 drops tea tree
  • 9 drops lemon
  • 2 drops thyme ct. thymol
  • 1 drop cinnamon

To use in a bath: Blend 4 to 6 drops in a teaspoon carrier oil and stir into bathwater. (More bath aromatherapy blends.)

To use for massage: Blend 8 drops in 4 teaspoons carrier oil.

Source: The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness

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