Fall is upon us, which means that the beautiful autumn foliage is about to happen. For many people, the changing of leaves triggers violent allergy attacks, causing major sneezing, coughing, or general congestion. Allergies can affect everyone differently, especially with each passing season, but they don’t have to dictate your ability to breathe. You can use essential oils to help decongest the sinuses.
Popularly used in aromatherapy, essential oils exhibit an array of health benefits. The powerful aromas of certain essential oils help to unblock a stuffed nose. In doing so, essential oils promote sinus drainage and may even reduce inflammation and fight bacteria in the process. The goal is to open the airways and rid the nasal passages of built-up mucus.
One of the best ways to do this is to use steam in combination with essential oils. Now, it’s not as though everyone has a steam room in their home or even at a gym near their home. Use the power of hot water in your shower and some DIY aromatherapy shower steamers. Think of these like little bath bombs that you drop in your shower. As they melt, they release the aromas from the essential oils. Combined with the steam of the hot water, the aromas promote decongestion and easy breathing. See which essential oils help out below.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
If there is one essential oil associated with decongestion, it’s eucalyptus essential oil. Many over-the-counter products that promote decongestion contain eucalyptus essential oil for that reason. A 2009 study monitored two groups, one of which took a placebo and the other took cineole, which is a compound in eucalyptus. The group that took cineole in pill form proved to relieve congestion. It’s better to inhale eucalyptus’ aroma, though, as it may relieve headaches, runny nose, and nasal obstruction.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme is a traditional herb belonging to the mint family. Not only is it a culinary staple in many cuisines, but it also exhibits numerous healing properties. The essential oil of thyme offers many antibacterial and expectorant properties, which promote decongestion. Studies have shown that it works to clean mucus deposits from nasal passages and the chest. Many people who use thyme essential oil also experience relief from sinus headaches, bronchitis, and asthma symptoms.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Similar to eucalyptus essential oil, peppermint essential oil provides a cooling effect after inhalation. Not only does this feel great, but it also helps to unblock sinuses. Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, which is a compound that fights bacteria and helps to open the airways. Menthol may even affect mucus receptors in the nose, promoting decongestion for better breathing. Combine peppermint essential oil with steam to enhance the benefits.
Pine Essential Oil
The enchanting smell of pine can make your house smell like a forest, and it also helps to improve air quality by battling microorganisms. Pine essential oil contains monoterpenes and antiseptic properties, which work to promote decongestion and fight bacteria in the respiratory system. Many people also find that pine essential oil has a warming effect on the chest, providing much needed relief.
DIY Aromatherapy Shower Steamers
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup citric acid
- 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
- 1/8 cup kaolin clay
- 1 spray bottled filled with water
- 1 tablespoon 100% pure menthol crystals
- 100 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 50 drops peppermint essential oil
- 30 drops pine essential oil
- 15 drops thyme essential oil
- Combine the baking soda, citric acid, arrowroot powder, and kaolin clay in a non-metallic mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
- Drop in the essential oils and give everything a quick mix.
- Spray the mixture with a little water and immediately whisk the mixture. It’s best to wear disposable gloves to protect your hands, especially since citric acid can be harsh on sensitive skin.
- Get a silicone mold (like an ice cube tray) and pack the mixture into each mold. Allow the shower steamers about 24-48 hours to harden completely. They should feel hard to the touch when ready.
- Carefully peel back the silicone and gently push each steamer out of the mold.
- When ready to use, drop one in the shower once the water is hot. Allow the aromas of the essential oils to promote decongestion. The steamer will naturally dissolve and simultaneously release the aromas.