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20 Essential Oils For Sinus Congestion


Feeling a little stuffy? Read up on our 20 best essential oils for sinus congestions.

Essential Oils For Nasal Congestions

Nasal congestion, often referred to as a stuffy or blocked nose, is a common discomfort that many people encounter at various points in their lives. It may be called stuffy nose in common parlance, if you want to sound more sophisticated or confuse people rhinorrhea or rhinitis are the medical terms. It occurs when the nasal tissues and blood vessels become swollen and inflamed, leading to a feeling of obstruction in the nasal passages.

This condition can arise due to various factors, including allergies, infections like the common cold or flu, sinusitis, environmental irritants, or structural issues in the nasal passages. Before we start looking at the essential oils for congestion here’s a tip that will always come in handy. Blocked nose can be vexing and people blow their noses hoping to open it up. This is a big red flag. Sometimes blowing the nose helps, but do not overdo it or use excess force.

Everyone who ever experienced nasal congestion would attest that the symptoms of nasal congestion can be quite bothersome, ranging from difficulty breathing through the nose to a feeling of pressure or fullness in the sinuses.

One of the biggest irritations caused by nasal congestion is sleep interruptions. Other symptoms are difficulty concentrating, headaches, and overall annoyance. Over-the-counter medications (decongestants or antihistamines) are commonly used for relief. But some do seek alternative remedies, such as essential oil for stuffy nose.

In this guide, we'll take a dive deeper into the causes of nasal congestion, look at some of the best essential oils for congestion, and provide insights on safe and effective ways to use essential oils for nasal congestion relief.

Understanding the benefits and considerations of using essential oils for sinus issues can empower individuals to make informed choices in addressing nasal congestion, especially during those nights when blocked nose affects sleep. Research published in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion 2007 concluded that congestion led to lack of sleep and fatigue. [1]

Causes Of Nasal Congestion

Before learning about the essential oil to clear sinuses let’s look at the causes and symptoms. This condition can be a result of various factors, each contributing to the swelling and inflammation of the nasal passages. Some of the primary causes include:

Viral Infections: The common cold or flu viruses are among the most prevalent causes of nasal congestion.

Allergies: Substances like pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, or even certain foods can trigger swelling and congestion.

Sinus Infections (or Sinusitis): Inflammation of the sinuses, often due to bacterial or viral infections, can cause nasal congestion.

Environmental Factors: Irritants including smoke, certain odors, or chemicals can irritate the nasal passages, leading to congestion.

Respiratory tract structure: Deviated septum, nasal polyps, or any other structural abnormalities may hinder proper airflow.

Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menstruation, or certain hormonal changes brought on by conditions or medications may cause congestion.

Medications: Excessive or prolonged use of certain medications including nasal decongestant sprays, can cause congestion or make it worse.

Weather: The change in weather (both from dry to cold, and cold to dry) can sometimes cause nasal congestion.

Food: Last but not the least nasal congestion can be due to reaction to specific foods or food additives.

Understanding the underlying cause of nasal congestion is crucial for effective management.

Symptoms Of Nasal Congestion

Here's a list of symptoms associated with nasal congestion:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling of blockage or obstruction in the respiratory tract
  • More mucus
  • Mucus dripping down the throat
  • Low sense of smell or taste
  • Pain or pressure around the sinuses
  • Headache
  • Sleep interruptions
  • Sore throat or irritation
  • Mouth breathing

(You can read about the aetiology, evaluation and treatment of nasal congestion here. [2])

Introduction - Essential Oils For Sinus Congestion

Essential oils have gained attention for their potential health-based benefits in easing nasal congestion, sinuses and runny nose. They are concentrated plant extracts that contain aromatic compounds that possess properties like anti-inflammatory, and decongestant effects. When essential oil to clear sinuses (essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and others) are used in the right dilution and applied as instructed, they may help alleviate nasal congestion. The oils health-related properties reduce inflammation, clears the respiratory tract, and creates a positive breathing experience.

Throughout this article we will ask you to use essential oils cautiously. Here’s the first instance. It's crucial to use essential oils cautiously and as instructed as they are potent and can cause irritation or adverse reactions if not used correctly. Consult a physician or aromatherapist before using essential oils at least before its initial use and especially for individuals with respiratory conditions, allergies, or sensitive skin.

21 Best Essential Oils For Sinus Congestion & Runny Nose

There are many essential oils, but only a few have the qualities to give relief from nasal congestion and runny nose. Let’s start with the category of oils that are considered the best essential oils for congestion – the mint category of oils.

1. Tea Tree Essential Oil for Runny Nose

Tea tree oil is known for its health-based properties. It is also one of the potent oils. It may help deal with nasal congestion by targeting infections and reducing inflammation in the windpipe. When diffused or diluted properly, the compounds in the oil with anti-inflammatory properties causes easy the breathing. And as it is a potent oil, proper care needs to be taken to while applying and diffusing the oils.

2. Marjoram Essential Oil For Stuffy Nose

The minty fresh aroma of Marjoram oil is believed to have mild decongestant properties. When diluted and used in a diffuser or when topically applied to the nose, head and throat, it might provide relief from nasal congestion. Inhaling the aroma may result in easier breathing. However, proper dilution is essential.

3. Turmeric Essential Oil for Nasal Congestion

Turmeric oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds. Modern research has proven that the compounds in turmeric does have said properties. It has also been part of ancient medical practices. Turmeric oil is largely used for therapeutic purposes and for its effect on the skin. It might aid in reducing inflammation that causes nasal congestion when diluted and applied topically or inhaled through a diffuser.

4. Eucalyptus Essential Oil for Runny Rose

Eucalyptus oil, renowned for its decongestant and antifungal properties, when used in a diffuser or diluted and applied topically, may help ease nasal congestion. It does so by clearing the nasal passages, reducing inflammation along the nasal tract, and facilitating easier breathing. However, this oil is potent, and proper dilution and caution are advised.

Eucalyptus oil is used as an ingredient in many nasal congestion treatments; but, using essential oil directly must be done so with caution. Consulting a professional before use is recommended. Research published in the international journal Acta Oto-Laryngologica on July 2009 investigates the effect of the vapours of camphor, eucalypths or menthol on the nasal resistance to airflow. [3]

5. Oregano Essential Oil to Clear Sinuses

Oregano oil contains compounds including carvacrol and thymol with antimicrobial properties. When diffused or diluted properly, it may help combat infections contributing to congestion of the nose and throat. The herbaceous aroma of oregano oil also helps get relief from congestion and flu related symptoms.

6. Clove Essential Oil for Nasal Congestion

Clove oil is known for its potential analgesic and antimicrobial properties. Clove buds are also used in traditional medicine. In fact, they are added to hot water and its aroma is inhaled to get relief from nasal congestion. Clove oil may offer temporary relief from nasal congestion as it may alleviate discomfort and fight against the infections. It should be used in a diffuser or diluted properly.

7. Juniper Berry Essential Oil for Stuffy Nose

Derived from the juniper tree, juniper berry oil contains compounds like alpha-pinene and limonene. Research has shown that these ingredients have potential anti-inflammatory properties. The oil can be inhaled for reducing congestion. Its fresh, cleansing aroma also provides relaxation from the headaches caused by stuffy nose.

8. Spearmint Essential Oil for Sinus Congestion

Spearmint oil from the mint family of oils has a refreshing aroma and possesses mild decongestant qualities. When diluted and topically applied or when used in a diffuser, it may provide temporary relief from nasal congestion by potentially opening up airways and offering a cooling sensation. It is a milder version of peppermint oil and can be topically applied by those with sensitive skin. Yet, careful dilution is advisable, particularly for individuals with respiratory issues.

9. Wintergreen Essential Oil for Nasal Congestion

Wintergreen oil may have soothing properties. It belongs to the mint family of essential oils, but less widely used than peppermint oil. However, it does possess the same qualities and can be a good smelling essential oil for nasal congestion. When used cautiously and diluted properly, it might offer relief from nasal congestion by providing a cooling effect and creating a positive breathing space. Again, it's crucial to dilute it adequately and use it sensibly.

10. Peppermint Essential Oil For Nasal Congestion

Peppermint essential oil is renowned for its refreshing scent and menthol content, which is believed to help alleviate nasal congestion. It is a popular ingredient in many congestion relieving medicines. Its cooling properties may offer temporary relief from congestion by opening up the airways, reducing inflammation, and promoting easier breathing when used in a diffuser or diluted and gently applied to the chest or temples. The Current Allergy and Asthma Reports published a study that evaluated the effect of menthol on nasal congestions. [4]

11. Ho Wood Essential Oil for Blocked Nose

Yes, ho wood essential oil is a thing and is popular when it comes down to treating nasal congestion. Derived from the Cinnamomum camphora tree, ho wood oil contains linalool and camphor. These compounds may be good for relaxation and potentially assist in alleviating nasal congestion, offering a calming, woody aroma.

12. Camphor Essential Oil for Nasal Congestion

Obtained from the Cinnamomum camphora tree, camphor oil contains camphor compounds known for their cooling effect and health-related qualities including anti-inflammatory properties, which may soothe the nasal tract. These properties may aid in reducing inflammation, thus offering relief from nasal congestion and other sinus related conditions.

13. May Chang Essential Oil for Congestion

May Chang oil, derived from the Litsea cubeba tree, contains citral and limonene, which are compounds known for their anti-inflammatory properties. When used in aromatherapy or diluted for topical application, May Chang oil may help combat sinus and nasal congestion issues by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages / windpipe. It has a citrusy and uplifting aroma that may elevate the mood and promote sinus relief.

14. Nutmeg Oil For Nasal Congestion

Nutmeg oil is derived from the seeds of the Myristica fragrans tree, and contains compounds like eugenol and myristicin, which known for potential anti-inflammatory properties. Nutmeg powder is used in cooking and is used as an ingredient in health drinks. However, its oil must not be consumed.

When the oil is diffused or applied topically (after proper dilution), nutmeg oil might reduce inflammation, thereby offering relief from congestion. It also has a warm spicy aroma that can create a comforting environment for positive breathing.

15. Ginger Essential Oil for Sinus

The essential oil from the rhizomes of Ginger is believed to possess anti-inflammatory properties. When diluted and applied topically or diffused, it might provide relief from nasal congestion by potentially reducing inflammation. In traditional medicine raw ginger would be chewed to deal with nasal congestion. However, essential oils should never be ingested.

An Anthology of Nutraceuticals published in 2021 investigated the effect of ginger and ginger oil on common colds. It found that the phytochemicals in ginger had many nutraceutical benefits including taking care of cold through aromatherapy. [5]

16. Lemon Essential Oil for Runny Nose

Extracted from lemon peels, lemon oil contains limonene, which known for its potential anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. Sometimes a lemon is squeezed and its aroma is inhaled to get relief from blocked nose. Those were the simple old days. Now the oil is diffused or diluted to assist in reducing nasal congestion by opening airways. Its citrusy aroma offers a refreshing and rejuvenating effect. It may provide relief from nasal discomfort and result in easier breathing.

17. Thyme Essential Oil For Congestion

Thyme oil possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties because of its active ingredients including thymol. When diluted and used in a diffuser or steam inhaler or topically applied around the nose and throat, the oil and its compounds might assist in fighting infections and reducing inflammation. Anyone afflicted with any respiratory conditions should first consult with a physician.

18. Lime Essential Oil for Congestion

Extracted from lime peels, the phototoxic lime oil contains limonene, known for potential decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties. When diffused or diluted properly, lime oil may aid in easier breathing by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. Its fresh, citrusy scent can also have a revitalizing effect. However, due to its toxic effect, beware of applying the oil and the skin and venturing out in the sunlight.

19. Bergamot Essential Oil for Runny Nose

Derived from bergamot orange rinds, bergamot oil contains compounds like linalool and limonene, proven to possess anti-inflammatory effects. When diffused or diluted for topical use, bergamot oil might assist in reducing inflammation in the nasal tract, thereby easing nasal congestion. Its citrusy, floral aroma has a refreshing and positive effect on the psyche.

20. Pine Needle Essential Oil for Runny Nose

Extracted from pine trees, pine oil is diffused during the cold season to get an outdoorsy feel because of its forest-fresh aroma. This oil contains compounds such as alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, which have several health-based properties. These compounds are known for their potential to open airways, and reducing nasal congestion.

21. Ravensara Essential Oil for Sinus Clearing

Ravensara oil, although not as popular for sinus-related issues, is highly regarded for its potential to lower congestion. It contains compounds like eucalyptol and methyl chavicol, which are known for their decongestant and expectorant properties. When used in aromatherapy through aroma diffusers or diluted for topical application, Ravensara oil may help clear nasal passages by reducing inflammation.

22. Rosemary Essential Oil For Congestion

Rosemary oil contains compounds that possess potential antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The active ingredients in rosemary that impart these qualities are eucalyptol, carnosic acid and carnosol. Diffuse the oil or dilute it correctly to alleviate nasal congestion. It does so by reducing inflammation and combating infections.

23. Lavender Essential Oil To Clear Sinus

Lavender essential oil is the most sought-after essential oil. Derived from lavender flowers, lavender oil contains linalool and linalyl acetate, which have therapeutic properties. These compounds possess potential anti-inflammatory and calming effects. The anti-inflammatory properties soothe the nasal tract and the calming properties calms irritation caused due to nasal congestion.

24. Clary Sage Oil For Nasal Congestion

The floral aroma of clary sage oil makes it one of the best smelling diffuser oils to clear sinuses. Extracted from the Salvia sclarea plant, this oil contains healthy ingredients including linalool and linalyl acetate. These are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. When diffused through an aroma diffuser or diluted for topical use, clary sage oil may assist in easing nasal congestion by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. It also has a calming effect, which induces relaxation.

25. Frankincense Essential Oil For Congestion

Derived from the Boswellia tree, frankincense oil contains boswellic acids known for potential anti-inflammatory effects. This is one plant / oil whose therapeutic properties were realized ages ago. When diffused for inhalation or diluted for topical use, it may help reduce inflammation in nasal cavity, aiding in alleviating nasal congestion. It has got a woody and resinous scent can create a calming atmosphere. This aroma is frequently utilized in aromatherapy.

26. Basil Essential Oil For Congestion

Holy basil oil, also known as Tulsi oil, is renowned for its diverse therapeutic properties. While it may not prevalently used for nasal congestion, it does have decongestant properties. It also has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and expectorant qualities that could aid in managing congestion. Tulsi leaves have several uses in traditional medicine. When used in aromatherapy or diluted for topical application, it might help alleviate inflammation in nasal passages and ease congestion.

How To Use Essential Oils For Clearing Congestions?

Aromatic Bath

Add a few drops of essential oils (such as eucalyptus, lavender, or tea tree) to a warm bath. The steam can help open nasal passages, offering relief from congestion while providing a relaxing atmosphere.

Diffusion Inhalation

Use an essential oil aroma diffuser to disperse the aroma throughout the room. Oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, or lemon can be effective choices to ease congestion while providing a pleasant scent. This method is usually used in case of mild congestion or in order to prevent sleep interruptions due to blocked nose.

Nasal Inhalers

Create your own personal nasal inhalers. Soak the cotton wick in essential oils known for decongestant properties (like any of the ones mentioned above) and inhale the scent directly to help clear nasal passages. Or if you can get an inhaler, you can soak the best smelling diffuser oils blend in a cotton ball. Place this cotton in the inhaler and breathe in.

Topical Application

Dilute essential oils like frankincense, wintergreen, or thyme with a carrier oil (such as coconut or jojoba or vegetable oil) and gently apply the mixture to your chest, neck, or temples. This can help alleviate congestion and provide a comforting aroma.

Steam Inhalation

Add a few drops of any essential oil for congestion (like eucalyptus, peppermint, or tea tree) to a bowl of hot water. Next, lean over the bowl, cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam. This method can help clear nasal passages and ease congestion. However, make sure to close your eyes.

DIY Recipes for Nasal Congestion Treatment with Essential Oils Blend

Recipe #1 - Soothing Steam Inhalation


  • 3-5 drops of peppermint oil
  • 3-5 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 2 cups of boiling water


  • Add the essential oils to a bowl of hot water.
  • Drape a towel over your head and lean over the bowl.
  • Inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes.

Recipe #2 - Topical Chest Rub


  • 10 drops of peppermint oil
  • 10 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil


  • Mix the essential oils and coconut oil together.
  • Rub the mixture onto your chest and back.
  • Cover your chest and back with a warm cloth.

Recipe #3 - Restful Nights Blend


  • 4 drops of peppermint oil
  • 4 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 2 drops of lavender oil


  • Add the essential oils to your diffuser.
  • Diffuse the oils for 15-30 minutes.
  • Inhale the scent for 20 minutes

Precautions While Using Essential Oils For Nasal Congestion

When using essential oils for nasal congestion, it's essential to take several precautions to ensure safe and effective use:

  • Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil before applying them to prevent skin irritation or allergic reactions. Undiluted essential oils will do more harm than good.
  • Perform a patch test. Apply a small amount of diluted oil to a small area of skin to check for any adverse reactions.
  • People use essential oils to relieve sinus conditions; however, do not ingest essential oils. Either apply essential oil topically or via essential oil diffusers. Avoid using these oils orally.
  • Avoid Contact with Eyes. Keep essential oils away from the eyes and other sensitive regions. In case of accidental contact, rinse thoroughly with a carrier oil and not water.
  • Consult a professional, especially if you have any underlying health conditions, are pregnant or nursing.
  • Some essential oils may not be suitable for certain individuals. Consult an aromatherapist or physician.
  • When using steam inhalation keep a safe distance from the steam. Check to see if the steam temperature is safe for the skin.
  • Use essential oils in moderation. Excessive use or prolonged exposure to strong concentrations can cause adverse reactions.
  • Ensure you're using high-quality, pure essential oils from reputable sources like Gya Labs to minimize any risks.
  • Store essential oils in dark containers away from direct sunlight to prevent oxidization and increase shelf life.


Essential oils are a natural and effective way to manage nasal congestion and open the nasal passages. The benefits of essential oils are due to their diverse properties, from decongestant, and anti-inflammatory to antimicrobial and soothing, provide various ways for dealing with the discomfort associated with congestion and in improving respiratory wellness. The oils to relieve sinus congestion is also helpful for those with chronic sinus congestion and sinus swelling.

However, due diligence has to be followed to avoid side effects. Dilution, patch testing, and consulting  are pivotal steps in ensuring safe and effective application. This is especially for individuals with underlying health conditions or skin sensitivities. Also be careful while adding essential oil to boiling water.

When used correctly, essential oils like eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, tea tree, and others can offer relief by clearing nasal passages, reducing inflammation, and promoting easier breathing. Some ways in which essential oils can help are through diffusion, topical application, or steam inhalation. Remember, while essential oils can be beneficial, individual responses may vary.

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