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Top 8 Essential Oils for Sinusitis

Health & Wellness

Sinusitis: Top 8 Essential Oils for Relief

Sinusitis—an infection or inflammation of the sinuses— is an incredibly common affliction.1 Often caused by allergies or illness, sinus inflammation results in increased mucus production, which does not drain because of narrowed sinus passages. While sinus infections are generally not contagious, they can be very uncomfortable and may present symptoms similar to the common cold, such as a headache or pressure, facial swelling on and near the sinuses, low fever, mucus or a runny nose, congestion, sore throat, fatigue, cough, sneezing, and even bad breath. While not all sinusitis is preventable, there are simple measures you can take to prevent sinus irritation and infections.

For example, limiting exposure to allergens in your home and work spaces by keeping air filters clean and dust, dirt, and pet dander at bay is helpful. Also, incorporating certain hygiene protocols into your regular routines, such as flushing the sinuses with a Neti pot or saline spray helps sinuses stay moist and healthy. If, however, you do find yourself with a sinus infection, it may be comforting to know that most cases of sinusitis are easy to treat. Depending on the severity and nature of the infection, sinusitis and its symptoms may be treated in a variety of ways. Over the counter and prescription medicines are frequently used to address sinusitis.2 Additionally, simple home remedies may relieve sinusitis symptoms and inflammation.3 For example, using a humidifier, steam bath, or warm compress on the sinuses can help open the sinus cavities and relieve pressure. Proper nutrition and hydration allow the body to fight any infection, and even spicy foods can provide symptom relief. Essential oils are also effective remedies for sinusitis and may help you breathe easier. [post-carousel /]

Using Essential Oils to Remedy Sinusitis

room diffuserThere are several ways to use essential oils to treat sinus pressure or inflammation. Those may include using the oils in a diffuser or humidifier, as an additive to a warm bath or shower, and topical application. Choose the method that works best for you. It may be helpful to try a few different options before settling on a routine.

Room Diffuser

Essential oil diffusers are an easy delivery option for an individual to reap the benefits of essential oils. Add several drops of oil to water in a diffuser, and breathe deeply while sitting near the diffuser.


A humidifier is a good choice for essential oil inhalation over a longer period of time. Add at least 25 drops of oil to the water in the humidifier and use the machine when in close proximity throughout the day. Use a humidifier in your bedroom for overnight relief. For quick relief using a humidifier or essential oil diffuser, try directly inhaling the steam these machines produce. Simply sit over the humidifier, cover your head and the machine with a light towel, and breathe normally. The steam will open your sinuses while the essential oils work to clear bacteria and heal the infection.


Taking a long, hot shower is a common way to relieve congestion, and adding essential oils may speed healing and bring comfort. Simply place a few drops of oil directly into the bottom of the shower. Using very warm water to shower, breathe in the steam to expel mucus and reduce sinus pressure. The heat from the water will activate the healing properties of the essential oil.

Topical Application

Essential oils may be used directly on the skin if they are appropriately diluted in a carrier oil or lotion. For sinus relief, choose a carrier oil with a neutral scent. allowing aromatic oils to maintain maximum effectiveness.4 Simply mix the carrier oil with several drops of essential oil(s) and store in an airtight container for use as needed. Apply a small amount of the mixture to the chest, behind the ears, or back of the neck, or use sparingly under the nose as you would a vapor rub. A topical application should provide relief for several hours, but reapply as needed. Always patch test a small area of skin before topical application to avoid irritation and adverse effects. Try any of these treatments, or a combination of them with the essential oils below for a natural and effective sinusitis remedy. Remember, always use oils as directed and without any oils or carriers that you may be sensitive or allergic to.

Top 8 Essential Oils for Treating Sinusitis

Many essential oils may alleviate sinusitis, including tea tree, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, pine, rosemary, and clove oils. These oils can be used alone or blended to achieve maximum benefits.5 Each essential oil has distinctive properties—experiment to find which works best for you. Try using different oils, oil blends, delivery methods, and even, times of day, to find your optimal remedy. Then, continue to use essential oils to stave off future infections while cleansing your body and the air you breathe.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural first aid kit in a bottle. This oil has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties and functions as an immunostimulant. The oil helps eliminate germs causing infection in the sinuses while boosting the immune system, preventing future infections. Because of its ability to eliminate bacteria, tea tree oil is used as a treatment for a host of conditions such as skin irritations and acne, dandruff, fungal infections, bacterial infections, and colds and flu. Using tea tree oil in a diffuser is a quick way to take advantage of the oil’s expectorant and antibacterial properties. Tea tree oil can also be added to a humidifier or used in the shower. When combined with steam, tea tree oil can effectively open the sinuses, loosen mucus and congestion, and generally relieve sinus pressure. Tea tree oil can also be combined with a carrier oil and applied topically on the chest, behind the ears, or sparingly under the nose for lasting effects.

Lavender Oil

While lavender essential oil is commonly used for creating a relaxing atmosphere for sleep or stress relief, it can also be a helpful addition to any sinusitis remedy. Lavender has antibacterial properties that may clear the sinus cavities and kill bacteria causing the infection. Further, lavender is an anti-inflammatory that may relieve pressure due to sinus swelling. Lavender essential oil can be used in a room diffuser, or breathed indirectly from the bottle. It can also be used topically on the neck, chest, behind the ears, or on the back once it has been diluted in a carrier oil. Lavender oil is best used at night to break up phlegm while promoting deep sleep and restful healing.

Peppermint Oil

Minty oils such as peppermint are ideal for treating sinusitis. Peppermint oil is antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory, so it clears germs while reducing painful swelling in the sinuses, providing simultaneous pain relief and healing. Peppermint oil is particularly effective as a decongestant because it has a high concentration of menthol, which has been used medicinally for thousands of years, in many cultures. Menthol has a cooling effect that opens sinus cavities and calming coughs. Peppermint oil can be used topically when mixed with a carrier oil and is beneficial when applied to the chest or under the nose. It is also safe for long term use, making it a great go-to for sufferers of chronic sinus issues.

Eucalyptus Oil

Cool and calming, eucalyptus essential oil has been used to soothe cold symptoms for years. It is derived from the same plant family as tea tree oil and also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. The minty aroma that eucalyptus is known for comes from a component called eucalyptol, which is included in many brands of cough drops and vapor rubs; it helps open airways, calms coughing, and slows the production of mucus. Eucalyptus can be used in a variety of ways to treat sinusitis. It works well when used in a diffuser, humidifier, or hot shower. This oil can also be added to a carrier oil for a homemade vapor rub; simply apply to the chest or under the nose. In addition, eucalyptus can be mixed with water and sprayed directly into the air to eliminate airborne particles that lead to infection.

Lemon Oil

Lemon essential oil is known for its cleansing properties, which extend to the immune system, too. Because of its high concentration of vitamin C, lemon oil boosts the immune system and has antiviral and antibacterial properties as well. Additionally, the oil supports the lymphatic and respiratory systems as it breaks down mucus to relieve congestion. Lemon oil can be added to topical rubs and smells amazing when mixed with eucalyptus or peppermint. Most lemon oils can be consumed when diluted in water or hot tea, adding flavor and cleansing benefits. When mixed with honey, lemon oil is an effective remedy for a sore throat. Additionally, lemon oil can detoxify and cleanse the air when used in a spray bottle or a diffuser.

Pine Oil

Pine essential oil can be an effective treatment for inflammation and excess mucus caused by sinusitis. Like most of the other oils on this list, pine is antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory. It can help the respiratory system work efficiently while killing an infection. Pine oil may also be used daily to treat congestion or allergy symptoms. Breathing pine oil delivered through a humidifier or a diffuser is an effective way to capture its benefits. Pine is also a natural disinfectant. It can be used in household cleaners to eliminate dust and dander that could potentially lead to an infection. Finally, pine can stimulate blood flow when applied topically, which may decrease sinus cavity swelling and tenderness.

Rosemary Oil

Not just an herb for cooking, rosemary can also be used to strengthen the immune system and alleviate pain caused by sinusitis. This essential oil is antibacterial and antiseptic, making it a great choice for cleansing the lymphatic system and increasing antioxidant levels. The latter is necessary for fighting bacterial infections in the sinuses and throughout the body. Rosemary oil stimulates the respiratory system, quiets coughing, and soothes sore throats, too. Steam is an effective delivery method for rosemary oil, so it may be used with a diffuser or humidifier. Rosemary can also be mixed with other oils to create a homemade rub that may be applied to the throat and chest. Because this aromatic oil is also known to reduce stress, it is ideal to use just before bed.

Clove Oil

Clove is a well-known baking spice and a very powerful essential oil. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a great option for treating sinusitis. Clove can heal the respiratory system as it boosts the immune system to fight future infection. This essential oil can also reduce congestion and mucus in the nasal cavities. Clove oil is highly concentrated, but it can be applied topically if heavily diluted. Try adding a drop of clove to a blend of several other oils. Alternatively, the oil may be used in a diffuser or humidifier. This method will also kill bacteria in the air, making your home healthier overall.

When to See a Doctor

medical doctorEssential oils are great additions to holistic, wellness routines. However, sinusitis may require medical intervention to completely eliminate an infection. If you have sinus-related symptoms including fever, colored mucus, swelling in the nose and face, or congestion that lasts longer than 10 days, or if symptoms go away but persistently return, please see a doctor. Frequent infections may be due to an underlying medical condition. For serious cases of sinusitis, doctors might prescribe antibiotics or over the counter medication. These should be taken as directed. Typically, it is safe and effective to continue to use essential oils to address the signs and symptoms of sinusitis. But, it is always wise to ask your healthcare professional or pharmacist. Even after symptoms have cleared, Continue to use essential oils in your daily routine to prevent future infections. Photo credits: BOKEHSTOCK/, InesBazdar/, BillionPhotos/, AmyLv/, MadeleineSteinbach/, OxanaDenezhkina/, AfricaStudio/, Lijphoto/

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