Best Essential Oil for Congestion

Most people are aware essential oils have the potential to be incredibly beneficial in the relief of headaches, stress, and insomnia. However, the inhalation of essential oils for congestion can help clear airways by loosening built up mucus and phlegm. This buildup is common, especially when suffering from a cold or chronic allergies. If you are looking for the best essential oil for congestion, check out our top five picks!

5 Best Essential Oils for Congestion

1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Many people consider eucalyptus oil the best essential oil for chest congestion. It is famous for treating symptoms of cold and flu, with eucalyptol being one of the key ingredients in many over-the-counter medications. Eucalyptus also helps to loosen mucus buildup, allowing it to be expelled from the body. For this reason, eucalyptus oil is number one on our list of the best essential oils for congestion. There are a few ways to use eucalyptus oil as a decongestant, the most popular being inhalation or topical application. 

Mix a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil with a carrier oil and massage into the chest and throat. Alternatively, add oil to a diffuser or hot bath and breath in the steam for full effect. For more on eucalyptus, check out another one of our posts on how to get rid of a stuffy nose!

2. Peppermint Essential Oil

When fighting a cold and its accompanying symptoms, peppermint is a close contender to be the best essential oil for cough and congestion. It contains menthol, which is an ingredient in many over-the-counter cold medications such as lozenges, inhalers and rubs. Upon inhalation, the cooling properties of menthol numb the nasal passages, reducing the sensation of congestion. Add peppermint essential oil to a diffuser or vaporizer to fill a room with the aroma. You can also add a few drops to a bowl of hot water and inhale the stream for a more direct approach. If proper dilution with a carrier oil is used, peppermint essential oil can also be applied topically. Be careful to never apply concentrated oil directly to the skin, even when using oils for congestion.

3. Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary oil is another great pick when looking at essential oils for sinus congestion. In addition to its delightful aroma, rosemary contains camphor, a common ingredient in many decongestants. Camphor can help loosen restriction in the airways, making breathing easier. Studies show rosemary oil may work as an antimicrobial agent, which means it has the potential to reduce the presence of bacteria through inhalation. Rosemary essential oil blends well with the other essential oils for congestion, and you can have a play at creating your own combinations to suit your preferences. Add rosemary oil to your diffuser, or simply inhale the scent straight from the bottle to help reduce symptoms of cold and flu.

4. Oregano Essential Oil

Next, we come to oregano. Oregano essential oil contains carvacrol and thymol, which studies show to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Many people who believe in using natural remedies believe oregano oil is the best essential oil for congestion, as well as the best oil to use if you are feeling rundown. Add a few drops to your diffuser, and see if this spicy-scented oil can help clear up your cold—and your nose!

5. Cinnamon Essential Oil

Though most people associate cinnamon with food and drink, studies show this common spice may have anti-inflammatory properties. Because sinusitis and other respiratory ailments often arise due to inflammation, this means aromatherapy with cinnamon oil may prove beneficial. 

When considering cinnamon essential oil, it is important to note the difference between cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf essential oil. Both oils come from the same genus, and the same varying species of trees. What makes them different is the part of the tree from which they come. As you may have guessed, one comes from the leaf, and the other the bark. Generally, essential oil coming from the bark has a stronger scent and flavor than that of the leaf. If you are planning to dilute your oil with another carrier oil and apply topically, use cinnamon leaf oil as it is milder. If you are suffering from sinus issues, then cinnamon bark oil is considered one of the best essential oils for nasal congestion.

So, You’ve Found the Best Essential Oil for Congestion: What Now?

When it comes to using essential oils for cough and congestion, it is better to treat sooner rather than later. This will allow the mucus and phlegm in your respiratory tracts to loosen, meaning it can be expunged from the body. However, even if you have some of these oils at home you may not know how to use them properly. Let’s go into more detail on the best methods to use essential oils for congestion purposes.

Direct Inhalation

Direct inhalation is when you directly breathe in the oil essence from the bottle. Alternatively, you can place a few drops on a sterilized handkerchief and inhale the aroma that way. 

Steam Therapy

Steam therapy is the best way to use essential oils for congestion. Place a few drops of your chosen essential oil in a bowl of hot water, and inhale the steam. It can help to place a towel loosely over your head if you are comfortable with it, creating sort of a mini-steam room. 


Using a diffuser is the simplest method. Simply add the required number of liquid drops into the diffuser to disperse the aroma around the room. This is an excellent way to get the benefits of aromatherapy while you sleep.


First dilute the oil with a carrier oil as recommended. Then, rub the oil gently over the chest and back. This allows the oil to absorb through the skin, as well as through inhalation. 

Precautions to Consider Before Using the Best Essential Oils for Congestion

  • Essential oil use is not recommended for young children or pregnant women.
  • Those who suffer from allergies or sensitive skin should take special care when using essential oils
  • It is important to consult with a physician or medical professional before using holistic therapies


Essential oils may provide relief from cough and congestion. Regardless, it is important to be mindful of how you use them. Take care and caution, and always be sure to consult with a health professional before using essential oils for health purposes. We hope we’ve helped you find the best essential oils for congestion, and that you have an idea of how essential oils may benefit you now, or in the future.

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