A cold, allergies, a sinus infection, and the flu are common causes of sinus congestion. Some essential oils, including eucalyptus and peppermint oils, may help open the airways and ease congestion.
Essential oils are a popular natural treatment. People use them to relieve sinus congestion, unblock a stuffed nose, and promote sinus drainage.
Eucalyptus and peppermint oils show particular promise. Otherwise, little scientific evidence supports the use of essential oils to relieve sinus congestion.
However, there is some evidence that essential oils may improve related symptoms, though many of these studies have involved animals or lab experiments, rather than human participants.
Some research indicates that essential oils can:
- reduce inflammation
- fight bacteria
- relieve pain
These effects may help relieve symptoms associated with congestion.
In this article, we investigate ways that people use essential oils to treat a runny, stuffy nose.
Many people find that inhaling peppermint oil feels good when they have blocked sinuses. This is because of its cooling effect. But does peppermint oil actually improve sinusitis symptoms?
Peppermint oil contains menthol. This compound may affect the mucus receptors in the nose, helping to open the airways and clear mucus.
Lab studies show that peppermint oil may fight bacteria, one of the triggers of sinus congestion. Animal studiesTrusted Source demonstrate that it may also reduce inflammation. It is important to emphasize that these studies did not test the effects on humans.
A person can try making a steam bath by placing a few drops of the oil in a bowl of warm water and breathing in the steam for a few minutes until the stuffiness and other symptoms subside. Alternately, a diffuser can fill the air with this essential oil.
Also, certain nasal decongestant products contain peppermint.
Various brands of peppermint oil are available online.
Oil from the eucalyptus plant shows promise as an alternative remedy for sinusitis and congestion.
Several over-the-counter decongestant products, such as chest rubs, contain eucalyptus oil. Many believe that this oil can relieve the symptoms of colds and coughs, including sinus congestion and stuffiness.
People often use eucalyptus oil in steam baths. Like peppermint oil, it may clear stuffiness and congestion in the nose.
Eucalyptus oil contains a compound called cineole. A small-scale 2009 studyTrusted Source found cineole to be a safe and effective treatment for sinus issues, compared to a placebo, when participants took it in a pill. The researchers warn, however, that this treatment could cause a rash or heartburn.
They found that cineole improved many sinusitis symptoms, including:
- nasal obstruction
- a runny nose
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