Essential Oils

The Top 4 Essential Oils For A Sinus Infection & Congestion

Updated on 23 November 2020 • 5 minute read


Why People Are Turning To Essential Oils for Sinus Infections & Congestion 

Sinus issues can be caused by the common cold, flu, sinus infection, or allergies

Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and congested. 

This inflammation causes increased mucus production that isn’t able to drain due to the constricted sinus passages which result in sinus pressure and discomfort.

Bacteria in the mucus can create further inflammation and cause infection. 

(source: Google)

Common symptoms of sinus infection are: 

Luckily, there are multiple natural remedies available that can provide sinus relief without the added side effects of prescription or over-the-counter medication and antibiotics. 

These medications often cause drowsiness, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and headaches. 

Because of their medicinal properties and immune-boosting effects, the use of essential oils may be a relatively low-risk, natural, and effective way to treat sinus infections and congestion. 

Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated aromatic compounds that are extracted from tree or plant material such as bark, leaves, flowers, roots, resin, fruit, or nut.  

They’re a form of herbal medicine and their therapeutic application is referred to as aromatherapy.

The benefits of essential oils are often increased health and wellness.


How EOs Work To Provide Sinus & Congestion Relief

It’s important to choose the right EOs for sinus and congestion relief because not just any EO will do. 

In order to maximize their health benefits and healing potential, you’ll want to look for oils that have the following medicinal and therapeutic properties: 

  • Analgesic – pain relief from sinus headaches and pressure
  • Antibacterial – to kill and prevent bacteria from growing into an infection
  • Antiviral – to kill and prevent viruses from causing infections in the nasal passages
  • Antifungal – to kill and prevent fungi from growing
  • Antiseptic – to inhibit the growth of microbes and keep your sinuses clean
  • Anti-inflammatory properties – to help relieve inflamed sinus passages
  • Antioxidant – to help fight inflammation and free radicals
  • Decongestant – to relieve sinus congestion and remove excess mucus
  • Febrifuge – to address any low-grade fever that might be present
  • Immune system support – to help your body fight infections
  • Respiratory system support – to aid in decongestion and difficulty breathing 


The 4 Best Essential Oils for Sinus Infections & Congestion

Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita) 

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Decongestant
  • Febrifuge

Menthol, the active compound in peppermint essential oil, is a sinus soother thanks to its cooling effect that can even act as a mild anesthetic. 

Therapeutic uses include sinus congestion, sinusitis, headache relief, migraine, mental and physical exhaustion, and tension relief. 

Contraindications: children under 6 years old, high blood pressure, pregnant and breast-feeding women


Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata) 

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral (respiratory tract)
  • Antifungal
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Decongestant
  • Febrifuge
  • Immune system support
  • Respiratory system support

When inhaled, the major active component in eucalyptus essential oil, 1.8-cineole, can provide relief for inflammatory respiratory problems such as rhinosinusitis and bronchitis. (1) 

It can also reduce infection-induced mucus secretion. (2) 

Contraindications: Those with high blood pressure, epilepsy, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under 6 years old


Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) 

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral (respiratory tract)
  • Antifungal
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Decongestant
  • Immune system support
  • Respiratory system support

The vapors in tea tree oil are effective at opening up the sinus passages and breathing airways while relieving nasal congestion.   

Therapeutic uses include sinusitis, respiratory tract infections, rhinitis, laryngitis, & bronchitis.

Contraindications: Toxic if ingested, may cause irritation (perform a patch test before)


Rosemary oil (Rosmarinus officinalis)

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Antifungal
  • Antiseptic
  • Decongestant
  • Immune system support
  • Respiratory system support

The journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine mentions the compounds 1.8-cineole and linalool – the active ingredients in rosemary essential oil – as having powerful antimicrobial properties that appeared to be effective against many harmful and drug-resistant bacteria and fungi. (3) 

The vapors in Rosemary oil can open the sinus pathways to help you breathe better and relieve sinus congestion. 

Contraindications: Pregnant women, epilepsy, high blood pressure, can be toxic if ingested. 


Other oils that might be useful:

  • Oregano oil 
  • Lavender essential oil   
  • Lemon essential oil  
  • Frankincense oil
  • Clove oil  
  • Cedarwood oil


The Pros & Cons of EOs for Sinus & Congestion

The Pros:  

  • The oils are potent – a little goes a long way. Just a few drops of essential oil can offer multiple active compounds that unleash a series of healing, protective and regenerating effects on your sinus pathways and body. 
  • You have direct access to mother nature’s pharmacy at a relatively affordable price, though oils should be 100% natural, undiluted, and certified organic.
  • If used with care and mindfulness EOs are relatively low-risk and offer little to no side-effects when compared to most conventional prescription or over-the-counter medication. (But please be aware of the contraindications for each oil you’re using!) 
  • You can create your own blends to enhance and maximize their healing effects on your sinuses and any infections. 


The Cons:  

  • The oils are potent – misuse or unnecessarily high concentrations can cause irritation and might even make your symptoms worse.
  • Unfortunately, there are many adulterated EO products out in the market that feature misleading claims and labels. It’s estimated that more than 75% of all EO on the market are either diluted or contaminated with synthetic material. (4) 
  • EOs aren’t cure-alls, especially if you’re experiencing severe or recurring sinus infection or congestion. (If you’re dealing with persistent or unusually painful sinusitis please consult with your physician or medical provider prior to using them.)  
  • Most of the research done on EOs is based mostly on animal studies or cultured cells. Though studies do seem promising, more research is needed to explore the mechanisms and potential of these oils. 


How To Choose the Right High-Quality EOs for Sinus & Congestion

If you’re using EOs for medicinal purposes it’s important to choose high-quality oils that are undiluted and 100% pure. 

This will ensure you’re getting maximum effectiveness and healing power. 

Here are seven factors to consider when purchasing EOs for sinus and congestion relief: 


  • Always choose certified organic and therapeutic grade 
  • Check quality assurance via testing
  • Look into the company – are they reputable?
  • Check the label.
  • Don’t skimp or cheap out.
  • Make sure the oil’s Latin name is on the label.


Note: Just because an EO is known to have a certain effect, it doesn’t mean each person will experience that same effect.  

We’re all made up differently and have our own unique biochemistry that interacts with the oils.

This is why it’s very important to listen to your own body.  


Sinus Rx: DIY Essential Oil Recipes To Ease Congestion & Soothe A Sinus Infection 

Now that you’re familiar with EOs as effective home remedies, it’s time for application. 

You can use the following essential oil blend three ways: 


1 – Steam Inhalation 

Steam inhalation therapy is the most direct way to get the oil vapors deep into your sinuses, nasal passages, and respiratory system. 


Sinus Rx Blend:

  • 2 drops Eucalyptus
  • 2 drops Rosemary 
  • 2 drops Tea tree
  • 1 drop Peppermint



  • Fill a large bowl or pot with boiling water.  (Very hot water will also do.)
  • Add essential oils.
  • Place a towel or blanket over you to contain the steam.
  • Take deep, slow inhales


2 – Diffuser  

Using an essential oil diffuser helps to vaporize and disperse millions of aromatic microparticles into the room you’re diffusing in. 


Sinus Rx Blend:

  • 3 drops Eucalyptus 
  • 3 drops Rosemary 
  • 3 drops Tea tree 
  • 2 drops Peppermint



Add to 200 ml of water in your diffuser 


3 – Vapor Rub 

This homemade chest rub is the best way to apply this blend topically. 

This recipe is a non-toxic alternative to the good old fashioned Vicks rub. 

Unfortunately, Vicks contains less than favorable ingredients including synthetic chemicals and even petroleum. (Ugh.)



  • ¼ cup cacao butter (carrier oil)
  • ¼ cup jojoba or coconut oil (carrier oil) 
  • 15 drops Eucalyptus oil
  • 15 drops Rosemary essential oil 
  • 10 drops Tea tree oil
  • 10 drops Peppermint oil 
  • 5 drops Lavender oil



  • Slightly melt cacao butter and coconut oil in a small pot.
  • Add all EOs and stir well.
  • Transfer mixture to small jars or any airtight container with a lid. 
  • Allow to fully cool off before topically applying to the chest and back as needed. 
  • Note: Do not apply to nostrils or any area with mucous membranes.
  • Pro tip: For a less-fuss, on-the-go application you can add the mixture to empty lip balm containers and apply directly.  






(4) Essential Oils Revolution Online Summit, Interview with Robert Pappas, “Essential Oil Preparation”  


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