If you suffer from sinus infections, then you know how miserable they can be. The congestion, the pressure, the headaches! Then there is the mouth-breathing! Which makes it harder to talk, harder to eat, and even harder to sleep.
Most people deal with sinusitis once a year or so after a nasty cold or flu, but then there are the chronic sufferers. The ones who get a cold or experience an allergen, then get a sinus infection with constant inflammation and congestion for months on end. Up to 30 million people suffer from chronic sinusitis, and if you’re one of them, you know there’s no quick fix (1).
Today I want to share with you some of the best natural remedies to combat sinusitis and its uncomfortable symptoms. One of my favorites is to use an essential oil diffuser blend for sinus that can support you through inhaling healing vapors. We’ll start by breaking down sinusitis, and how it works, then we’ll talk about the top 8 essential oils for sinus infections and how to use them to clear sinuses. Then we’ll move onto other natural remedies that can help.
What is Sinusitis?
Before we get into how to treat sinus infections, it would help to know what’s happening in your body when you get one. Sinuses are the empty cavities under and above your eyes and nose. When they are working properly, they are free of any excess mucus and move air easily in and out when you breathe through your nose. They shouldn’t be painful or filled with pressure, and the little hairs (or cilia) move irritants out through sneezing or mucus.
But for some people, when they experience an allergen, smoke, or virus, it can irritate the mucus membranes and cause them to become extremely inflamed and swollen. When this happens, mucus doesn’t drain properly, and you will feel blocked up and like you can’t breathe. It can also cause a headache and swelling around the face and eyes.
Some other symptoms include thick nasal discharge, cough, earache, fatigue, diminished sense of smell, nausea, jaw pain, and fever. These are no fun at all, and if you couple it with a cold or flu virus, it’s even worse.
There are two different kinds of sinusitis that people deal with, acute and chronic. Acute sinus infections are usually caused by a cold and only last a week. This is why you should use essential oils to strengthen your overall immune system. If you can prevent the cold, then you can prevent the sinus infection, or at least knock it out a little more quickly.
Now for the chronic kind of sinus infection. Symptoms are basically the same as acute sinusitis but last for 12 weeks or longer. This can be truly debilitating. What happens here is that the sinuses become chronically inflamed and blocked. When the mucus continues to build and build, and no oxygen is circulating in there, you can develop a nasty infection. If the inflammation never really lets up, your sinuses won’t have a chance to heal because the mucus becomes hardened in there. Leading to that vicious cycle of chronic sinusitis.
Another less well-known fact about these chronic sinus infections is that the bacteria which causes them gets wrapped up in something called a biofilm. A biofilm is basically a protective coating that is produced by bacteria. These are like little bacteria houses that keep all the bacteria protected within it (2). Pretty gross huh? And this is why certain infections can be so hard to treat. Antibiotics aren’t necessarily competent because they circulate through the bloodstream and can’t penetrate these biofilm bacteria colonies.
In this case, topical antibacterials (like essential oils) and other things that can break up these biofilms from the outside are necessary. This is where essential oil diffuser blends for sinus infections can be effective because they can address this biofilm problem from the outside-in.
Conventional Treatment of Sinus Infections
Before we get into why you should use essential oils to relieve sinus congestion, let’s talk about the conventional treatment of sinus infections. As with most things, doctors will throw an antibiotic at it. We already know that this can be useless against those more chronic infections with biofilms, but even in acute cases, antibiotics may not be the best choice. This is because over time the bacteria that causes illness have become stronger and more drug-resistant. We’ve over-prescribed antibiotics to the point that they just aren’t as effective anymore.
They also kill off the good bacteria in our gut, lowering our immunity over time and causing long term digestive issues like leaky gut. Then there are the other potential side effects of antibiotics like nausea, diarrhea, sensitivity to the sun, yeast infections, and even allergic reactions (3).
The next standard treatment protocol is usually steroids like prednisone or another kind of steroid. While this can be helpful to reduce inflammation and therefore open up airways, steroids also lower immune system function over time making it harder for the body to fight the bacteria that is causing the infection in the first place. There are some other nasty side effects too, the most common being aggression, difficulty breathing or catching your breath, headache, heart arrhythmia, and swelling (4).
Prescription antibiotics have awful side effects and topical steroids can suppress the immune system, so why not use an all-natural remedy like essential oils to treat sinus infections instead?
So without further ado, let’s get started on how essential oils work to promote sinus drainage, what essential oils are best, and how to make essential oil diffuser blends for sinus infections and pain.
Essential Oils for Sinus Infections
Frankincense Essential Oil
First, let’s talk about preventing sinus issues before they start. Prevention requires a strong immune system that can battle a virus or irritant as soon as it comes across it. The best essential oils for strengthening the immune system are the ones that lower inflammation, induce a sense of calm, and prevent against infection.
This is where frankincense comes in. It addresses all three of these things. The main medicinal compound in frankincense essential oil is called boswellic acid. One 2010 study showed that Boswellia acids could increase the count of white blood cells that fight infection, as well as speed up immune response while lowering inflammation (5).
Frankincense has a rich history going back to the Bible of being used to induce a state of calm while preventing illness. To get the benefits of Frankincense, you can use it as an essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections by putting a few drops in a diffuser. You can also use it as aromatherapy by placing it on your pulse points and breathing it in throughout the day. Another way to work with frankincense is to ingest it. Put a single drop in a cup of water and drink daily for increased immunity.
doTERRA On Guard Essential Oil
On Guard essential oil blend is a powerful proprietary blend that can help prevent sickness and protect the respiratory system from infection. The combo of essential oils can purify and disinfect the air, surfaces, or the skin, especially during cold and flu season.
To get the benefits you can use it several ways. Add to a spray bottle and mist it on surfaces like the steering wheel, handles of a shopping cart or airplane trays. Use it as a hand sanitizing spray or simply rub a drop or two on you and your child’s hands to prevent against sickness and kill germs. Add a few drops to a diffuser and run it in your home or hotel to clear the air and support immune function.
Another option is to ingest it. The oils are packed full of antioxidants that will boost immunity and quickly work to halt illness in its tracks.
To ingest essential oils in liquids, the ideal way is to mix the essential oil with a half teaspoon of honey. Then it can be taken by mouth or mixed into hot water if someone wants to drink the oil. I also have no problem with adding a drop of oil when I am blending a smoothie because it gets mixed much better. One of the easiest ways is to put oils in a veggie capsule and dilute with food grade oil like EVOO.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
The best essential oils for killing germs are headed up by tea tree. Tea tree is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal and will work both topically and internally. Ultimately the main reason why nasal passages get so swollen, blocked and, inflamed is because of pathogens that are irritating to them, and this is where antibacterials come in — especially the ones which can penetrate biofilms.
Inhaling an essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections allows the compounds in tea tree oil to penetrate bacteria from the outside in, killing them off, and ultimately providing some relief from the pressure and swelling. And speaking of swelling, it’s also anti-inflammatory, providing that extra support to sinusitis sufferers. Treating inflammation is a big part of finding relief from sinusitis.
Add tea tree to your pulse points or chest, just under the nose, to a diffuser or hot bath. You can even add a single drop to a carrier oil and place a tiny dab just inside your nostrils. This will work to kill the bacteria causing sinus infections.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Remember that stuff your mom used to rub on your chest as a kid when you were sick with a cold or flu? Vicks vapor rub? It’s a petroleum based product so not the healthiest choice, but its main ingredient is eucalyptus oil. That’s what gives it that fresh scent and helps breaks up congestion from the chest and nose.
When it comes down to which essential oils relieve sinus pressure, eucalyptus oil has a powerful compound called cineole that can break through congestion, reduce inflammation, and help clear up painful pressure in your sinuses.
Besides those properties, eucalyptus has powerful, natural antiviral and antibacterial properties. When part of an essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infection, inhale at the first sign of a cold to quickly reduce the time it takes to heal.
To get the best results, add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to your diffuser, a hot bath, a facial steam, or just under your nose, on your chest, or pulse points.
Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano, which is a basic spice included in many Italian dishes, is also an incredibly powerful antimicrobial. The ingredient carvacrol treats inflammation, bacteria, viruses, and even parasites. Maybe that’s why it is traditionally used in cooking?!
Besides its antimicrobial properties, oregano essential oil also acts as an expectorant and anti-inflammatory, which can break up congestion in the nose and chest. It’s one of the top essential oils best for sinus inflammation and is a perfect addition to an essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections by working in three different ways: as a decongestant, natural antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory.
I wouldn’t place it inside the nose as chances are it will burn severely! Add a single drop to a beverage and drink it to offer antimicrobial benefits internally. Or as with the other essential oils here place a few drops in a diffuser, a facial steam or just under the nose (in a carrier oil- dilute well!).
Thyme Essential Oil
Another one of the classic cooking spices is thyme. It has the same ingredient that oregano does, carvacrol which as you know will ease inflammation and kill microbes that cause you to get sick!
Thyme is also a potent antiviral, making it an excellent ally for colds and flu. A cold virus can cause extreme inflammation in the sinuses, which could eventually lead to infection since the mucus can’t drain away. Kicking the cold before it gets too bad will help prevent a sinus infection from settling into your nasal passages.
Add a drop of thyme essential oil to a cup of tea with lemon and honey, or put it in your essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections. Thyme essential oil works great when mixed with a carrier oil and placed on the chest, pulse points or under the nose, especially at the first sign of a cold.
Keeping on with the humble cooking herbs next up is rosemary essential oil. Similar to the other oils, rosemary works to ease inflammation and kill the microbes that make you sick! An additional benefit of rosemary is that it can act as an antihistamine for those of you who suffer from allergies.
Allergies is another major cause of sinus infections because, like a cold virus, allergens cause inflammation and irritation in the nasal passages, which can lead to infection. Check out this article for more essential oils specific to allergies.
It’s analgesic properties make it a great oil to reach for to ease sinus headaches and pain. For sinus pain add a few drops to a carrier oil and massage around the nasal cavities and the temples.
To clear congestion, allergic responses and bacteria, add it to an essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections and inhale its potent vapors. If you’re on the go simply place a drop under your nose or on the pulse points.
If you’re looking for a proprietary blend of potent respiratory essential oils, this one is for you. This doTERRA essential oil for sinus congestion works to kill the bacteria and viruses that cause colds, flu, and sinus infections. It has essential oils that will ease inflammation, work to alleviate stress, promote sleep, and sinus drainage.
Breathe is a potent mix of essential oils and not suitable to ingest. But you can get all the benefits by mixing it with a carrier oil or putting it directly onto the chest, pulse points or under the nose. When applying it topically, remember to avoid being in the sun for about 12 hours as it can cause increased sensitivity to burning.
This is a potent essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections so place a few drops directly in your diffuser and inhale the vapors as aromatherapy.
DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Sinus Issues
Now that we know which essential oils to keep on hand for upper respiratory issues, let’s get to the basics of how to used to them in some recipes and what essential oils to diffuse for a stuffy nose!
Essential Oil Recipe for Sinus Headache
2 drops of rosemary essential oil
2 drops of thyme essential oil
Simply place these in your diffuser, lay down, relax and let the vapors work for you! Rosemary will support the pain and thyme will help lower inflammation and pressure.
Essential Oil Diffuser Blend for Sinus Infections
2 drops of frankincense essential oil
2 drops of tea tree essential oil
These two together work great as in an essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections. Put them in your bedroom diffuser at night to help battle an infection while you sleep. Frankincense is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and grounding at the same time. Tea tree is also fabulous at disinfecting while it also eases the swelling in sinusitis sufferers.
Essential Oil Diffuser Blend for Stuffy Nose
2 drops of oregano essential oil
2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
Put these in a diffuser and hit the congestion and swelling hard with these two powerful anti-inflammatories. They will also work on the bacteria that causes sinusitis, making it a great essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections.
Other Natural Remedies for Sinus Infections
Adding these remedies to your essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections will help your immune system fight back and support your healing!
Double up on vitamin C, taking up to 2,000 mg spread throughout the day. This powerful antioxidant will boost immunity and help you fight off colds, flus, and sinus infections once they take hold.
Many people are lacking in zinc, which is a mineral that is incredibly important for immune system function. It will help viruses from multiplying in the body and ease inflammation as well. Taking anywhere from 20-40 mg twice daily will help you recover more quickly from a cold and prevent sinus infections (6).
Neti Pot Nasal Rinse
You can help clear your sinuses and wash away bacteria and viruses by doing a nasal rinse. Salt can help clear up bacteria, so add a ¼ teaspoon of high-quality sea salt to warm water in your neti pot and rinse as often as possible.
One interesting theory is that just like your gut, you have good bacteria in your nose too. Having the right mix of probiotics in the nose can disrupt the biofilms we talked about earlier. This means that antimicrobial essential oil diffuser blends for sinus infections could get in and start to destroy the harmful bacteria (7). One brand that’s formulated specifically for this is called lacto-bacto.
So we’ve gone over a ton of information about sinus infections, how to help support symptoms and clear them up. I hope you’re feeling informed and ready to fight next time you get hit with a cold so you can prevent a more painful sinus infection from taking hold.
But I’d love to hear more from you! Do you have any favorite natural remedies for upper respiratory problems? A good essential oil diffuser blend for sinus infections? Leave a comment below and let us know!
- Jewell, Tim (2017). “Chronic Sinusitis”. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-sinusitis
- Sanders, Robert (2012). “Discovery Opens the Door to Attacking Biofilms that Cause Chronic Disease.” Retrieved from: https://news.berkeley.edu/2012/07/12/discovery-opens-door-to-attacking-biofilms-that-cause-chronic-infections/
- Carter, Alan (2019). “Side Effects of Antibiotics: What They Are and How to Manage Them.” Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/infection/antibiotic-side-effects#more-common-side-effects
- Drugs.Com (2019). “Prednisone Side Effects.” Retrieved from: https://www.drugs.com/sfx/prednisone-side-effects.html
- Ammon, HP (2011). “Modulation of the Immune System by Boswellia Serrata Extracts and Boswellic Acids.” Phytomedicine. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20696559
- Nohr, Melissa (2019). “Sinus Infection Natural Remedies.” Retrieved from: https://drjockers.com/top-8-sinus-infection-natural-remedies/
- Kresser, Chris (2019). “Chronic Sinus Infections: Another Role for Probiotics?” Retrieved from: https://chriskresser.com/chronic-sinus-problems-another-role-for-probiotics/