The worst thing about sinus congestion is the pressure. We have four sinuses, which house the olfactory nerves that send messages about fragrance to the brain. They also act as sound boxes for the voice which is why we sound so odd when we have a cold. There is no room for the sound to resonate. The sinuses run across the cheekbones, across the forehead, and up to the top of the head. This is also why essential oils will not only help you breathe easier but will also relieve your headache. The problem is, of course, it’s not only colds that can cause this congestion. In this post, we’ll investigate some of the best essential oils for sinus problems, which ones work best in different situations, and some professional tips on how to use them.
What Are The Best Essential Oils For Sinus?
Eucalyptus is the very best essential oil for sinus congestion. It is fast-acting. Even as you breathe in the fumes (properly known as the volatiles) the chemicals work quickly, unblocking the sinuses as they go.
There are around 300 different eucalyptus trees many of which have essential oils on the market today, all with different chemistries. Indeed, it is an oil many aromatherapists collect. They have a commonality that they all have this penetrating, decongestant action. Eucalypts are the best essential oils for sinus problems if you are an adult.
Not only is it good for the congestion itself but eucalypts are the best essential oils for sinus infections. They have antimicrobial, antibiotic, and antiseptic actions, supporting the immune system in its fight against invading pathogens. Eucalyptus also has a gentle helpful action on fevers too.
Beware of using eucalyptus on small children though. Especially do not place it on their pillows to help them breathe. Eucalyptus is high in a constituent called 1,8 cineole which is wonderful for the immune system, but it also slows respiration, so we should not use it close to their faces. That said, it can be useful to massage it (in dilutions of less than 0.25%) onto the upper back and neck. More explained on that in the pine section.
Like any other essential oil, eucalyptus should not be used in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
So, that’s frustrating, isn’t it? So what essential oil is good for sinuses in children?
We are big advocates of a drop of frankincense on the top of a teddy bear's head! We also advocate keeping said teddy bear till you are 32! There is nothing more comforting or reassuring than the scent of frankincense when you’re ill. Apart from eucalyptus, it is the best essential oil for a stuffy nose. Not only is it beautifully soothing, but also slows the breath, and helps them drift off to sleep. Frankincense (and maybe niaouli and myrtle) are children’s favorite essential oils for sinus pressure.
Frankincense is not only the best essential oil for sinus congestion but for soothing upset and poorly children anyway.
Clearly, its actions are not only limited to children. Everyone benefits from this one. It’s also one of the best essential oils for sinus congestion that’s not infection-related. Perhaps you suffer from hay fever or allergies? Use Melissa essential oil as a natural anti-allergenic, chamomile to soothe the itching and soreness and frankincense to clear the nose. This is the best blend of essential oils for sinus allergies.
Scientists believe that if we continue to harvest frankincense essential oil at the rate we are, there is a likelihood there will be none left by 2050.
Think about that for a moment. One of the most famous medicinal plants in the world, for at least four millennia, could be gone in our lifetime. Please make a pledge with yourself to always be mindful about every drop of frankincense you use. We’d like people to still be listing frankincense as one of the best essential oils for sinus infection in another two hundred years from now.
Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Frankincense and myrrh are both at the top of the list of the best essential oils for sinus congestion, but somehow their actions are quite different. Frankincense is subtle, gentle as if angels are listing magic over your nose. Myrrh is like a sledgehammer! Consider blending with lemon and tea tree, and massaging it over the cheekbones for almost instantaneous relief. It is a superb essential oil for sinus headaches.
The problem with oils that work that fast on catarrh, is they melt them, so you have this continuous running fluid. It’s best not to use this one on children, not because it’s not safe, but more because it can create more problems than you had before. You start off with congestion and you end up with a cough as they try to manage the drip, drip down their throats when they are in bed.
We also love this blend if you are suffering from a long-term problem with congestion.
Even though myrrh comes so high up on the list of the best essential oils for sinus congestion, it is also a uterine tonic. You must not use it in the first 37 weeks of pregnancy. It is suitable in those last few days and is safe if you are breastfeeding. However, even The Bible describes the bitter taste of myrrh. It can pass through the mother’s milk even, so you might find your baby is not a fan.
One of the key things to learning aromatherapy well is to understand that essential oils happen because plants evolve and respond to the environments they are exposed to. Indeed, the more stressed an organism is, amazingly, the better the essential oils that can be made of it.
A common misconception is that plants have essential oils. They don’t. What happens is they find a situation they need to respond to and they change their chemistry accordingly. We call the chemicals they make secondary metabolites, (“secondary” because they don’t need them to respirate. These are the chemicals they make to make survival easier and better). The oily parts of these metabolites, that pass-through distillation, are the essential oils.
This helps us to make assumptions about what the plant can do. This is how plants were investigated in 1600 when a man called Paracelsus developed a theory called “Doctrine of Signatures”. This is what the plant knows.
Consider what a Siberian Fir knows. First and foremost the conifers know about extreme temperatures, in the particular cold. The conifers were the first of any of our plants. They are the ancient ones that have seen many changes. In response to millions of years (about 40 million), they have developed needles instead of leaves, to be more resistant to the cold, and to be able to respirate better.
Even the essential oil retains the needles penetrating action. It pierces congestion and allows the air to make its way through. We stoke Siberian Fir and Balsam Pine, but the action is similar across the genus, they all know how to cope with air in the cold.
Hyssop is one of the best essential oils for sinus congestion but is also one of the most difficult ones to use. Let’s tell you about the good stuff first. There is no better oil for dealing with congestion generally. By that, I mean sinus congestion, but also phlegm from chest infections, compacted skin, infected lungs. Hyssop essential oil is rich in a chemical group called ketones. Ketones are wonderful for congestion generally because they can break things down. Aromatherapist, Dr Malte Hozzel speaks of ketones as “the dis-incarnators”. They disincarnate physical congestion, like catarrh and scar tissue, but they also disincarnate reality too. They can make it feel as if your personality no longer sits inside your body.
For most people that is not troublesome. You just feel a bit floaty, but you are probably more interested in the fact you can suddenly breathe better than anything else. For people who have schizophrenia, suffer from psychosis, or have any issues with delusion, however, this can be very problematic. It is not an oil that we would advise if you suffer from epilepsy or seizures either.
Hyssop should not be used in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy and is not a great choice for children either.
Peppermint has a superb cutting action and is particularly good for sinus congestion and headaches. It’s also a good one to add to your collection of essential oils for sinuses and allergies. We would avoid peppermint at night though. Peppermint has a cephalic action, meaning it clears the mind. Clearing in the way that suddenly you need to contemplate the complexities of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. It is not conducive to sleep!
There’s not that much more to say about it really, other than, like eucalyptus, this would not be a good choice for children. Eucalyptus has 1,8 cineole, peppermint has menthol. They are both problematic for children for the same reasons.
Ravensara has strong antibiotic properties. We would choose this if we have a full-on breakout of the mang! One drop in a blend is superb. It is a very powerful oil. For this reason, it is not suitable for use on children or during pregnancy, also we don’t recommend you put it into the bath.
Copaiba is extremely good at supporting the immune system. Visit the product listing to understand the intricacies of why that is. It hasn’t made its way onto the list of the best essential oils for sinus because it is especially good at snot busting, but if you have a germ that has decided it would rather not move out, the copaiba can be a brilliant help.
Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Again, tea tree is not particularly decongestant in its own right, but any time there might be an underpinning infection, we want to use some tea tree. Long with myrrh and ravensara, tea tree is definitely one of the best essential oils for sinus infections. Don’t use this one on its own, use it with something like eucalyptus, myrrh, or frankincense to relieve the sinus pressure. Then tea tree will do its magic in supporting the immune system.
If we had had more room, we would have included cinnamon essential oil too. Both of these are way too powerful to use on their own but are fabulous if you want some powerful immune support. They are both rich in powerful antibiotic and antimicrobial constituents. Again, though, we would only use a drop in a massage oil blend, and use other oils to do the decongestant work.
We cannot stress enough, what a big mistake it would be to put these in your bathwater. However, a drop of clove is great as a facial inhalant.
Making The Best Essential Oils For Sinus Complaints Work Harder
Essential oils are great, and apart from emotional healing, sinus issues is probably what they do best. However, knowing some massage techniques can really improve their actions. First, there are acupressure points that help essential oils for sinus drainage greatly.
There is a set just under the eyebrows, almost as if they are in the hairs. Make sure you apply pressure to those areas as you apply your blend.
Likewise, there are some under the cheekbones. Try lying your fingers underneath the bones, and you’ll probably feel how tender they are. Sensitive pressure point shows there is an energetic blockage. Leave your fingers there for about 2 minutes, and you should feel the energy begin to shift. You’ll likely notice the points become less painful during this time.
There are also points at the base of the skull. Again you’ll feel them easily enough. Apply pressure and your essential oils blend there too.
Last, there are several sets across the upper back and shoulder mantle. It can be helpful to use your oils to do a back massage, particularly on the shoulders that can become incredibly tender when you have sinus congestion.
DIY Recipes with the Best Essential Oils for Sinus
Essential Oil Diffuser Blend For Sinus - Adults
- 1 drop Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Eucalyptus globulus)
- 1 drop Lemon Essential Oil (Citrus limonum)
- 1 drop Cinnamon Essential Oil (Cinnomomum verum)
Safety: Not suitable for topical use.
Essential Oil Diffuser Blend For Sinus - Children
- 1 drop Frankincense Essential Oil (Boswellia carterii)
- 1 drop Siberian Fir Needle Essential Oil (Abies siberiaca)
- 1 drop Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
Safety: Never leave children unattended with diffusers. We can no longer smell when we are asleep so there is no advantage to leaving them on when they are sleeping. Take a 30-minute break from diffusing, every two hours.
Facial Massage Blend for Sinus Infections
- 20ml Aqueous Cream
- 4 drops Myrrh Essential Oil (Commiphora myrrha)
- 4 drops Tea tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- 4 drops Lemon Essential Oil (Citrus limonum)
Method of Use: Massage across the forehead and cheekbones as required.
Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy.
Apart from the above recipes, you could also try using some of the best essential oils for sinus congestion in a bowl of hot water, and steaming with a towel over. They are fast workers, helping to relieve congestion and support your immune system into feeling better much quicker.