Seven Natural Ways to Clear Up a Stuffy Nose and Nasal Congestion
HELP! I Can't Breathe!!
Stuffy noses (a.k.a. nasal congestion) is arguably one of the most horrible things about getting the common cold or a case of sinusitis. This post was prompted because one of my friends called to ask how to get her stuffy nose cleared up. She feels like she is coming down with that awful thing....the Big Bad Cold.
One of the very worst things about getting a cold is nasal congestion---more commonly called a stuffy nose. There are some pretty simple and powerful ways to clear up that horrible stuffy nose naturally, without putting nasty chemicals into your body. Here are my favorite natural ways to clear up a stuffy nose from simple to more complex.
You may also be interested in these related articles in my cold and flu care series: How to Prevent a Cold/Flu Naturally, What Herbs & Remedies to Take if You Feel a Cold or Flu Coming On, How to Deal With Symptoms of Cold & Flu if You Do Happen to Get Sick (Fever, Congestion, Cough, Sore Throat, etc.), and How to Recover Quickly and STAY Recovered. Also, here is an article for children specifically: How to Boost Your Child's Immune System.
What is a Stuffy Nose, Anyway?
A stuffy nose, or nasal congestion, is caused by inflammation of the tissues in the sinus cavities. Allergies, a crummy case of sinusitis, or cold/flu (caused by one of over 200 virus strains) can all cause the yucky phenomenon we know as a "stuffy nose." When the membranes in your sinus cavities and lining of the nose become inflamed and irritated, excess mucus and swelling creates nasal congestion. Luckily, there are some natural ways to combat stuffy nose!
Ways to Clear Up a Stuffy, Runny Nose
These ideas for clearing up a stuffy nose are listed in order from the simplest to more complicated remedies. They are not listed by effectiveness!
Steam is one of the first remedies I turn to for clearing up a stuffy nose! That's because it's simple. Just get in the shower! Or bring a shallow pan of water to a simmer, place your face over it, and cover your head with a towel. If you want an extra kick, just drop a few drops of Eucalyptus, Peppermint, or Camphor Essential Oils (or a nice blend) into your shower or the pan of water. Hooo--eeeh! You'll be feeling better fast!
The reason steam works so well is because it helps almost immediately reduce inflamed nasal tissues. Also, the steam helps to thin the thick gooey mucus in the upper passages of your nose.
2. Saline Solution
Just mix 1 tsp of sea salt (NOT table salt because it contains iodine) with 1 cup of warm purified or distilled water. Mix well until the salt is dissolved. Place in a bottle with a dropper once the salt is dissolved.
To use this solution, just blow your nose as well as you can. Lay your head back---or even just lay down---and place a few drops in your nose. Let stay there for a few minutes. Give the solution time to break down that mucus. About 5 to 10 minutes is good. Now sit up and blow your nose!
3. Fire Cider
Fire Cider is one of those very old traditional folk remedies, and everyone who knows about it seems to have their own way to make it. Fire Cider needs to infuse for at least 6 weeks, and up to several months, so you want to start making it early....long before Winter comes along.
You can take Fire Cider as a tonic to help prevent colds and flus, but if you are unfortunate enough to have to deal with a stuffy nose at any time, fire cider is known to help break up congestion, thin out the mucus, and help clear your sinuses. The herbs in fire cider build your immune system too!
Personally, I love Fire Cider! This is one easy remedy I highly recommend. Here is my version of fire cider, and it's never too late to start making it!
4. DIY Decongestant
This is another one of my most favorite remedies for helping alleviate stuffy and runny noses. This is a sweet/sour/spicy concoction of raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, honey, ginger root, cinnamon chips, and cayenne pepper powder. It's quick to make, and once you start taking it, you may just become addicted! It works like a charm, too!
Here is my recipe for a natural decongestant you can make yourself!
5. Hot Herbal Tea Infusion for Sniffles/Stuffy Nose
A tea infusion is a little different than making a cup of regular tea. Basically, you let the herbs steep in the water for one to several hours in order to get the most out of the medicinal herbs. This is not a great tasting tea, I have to tell you; but if you are looking for results and calming the inflammation from that cruddy, stuffy nose, then you should give this a try!
The herbs in this tea help strengthen the respiratory system, calm inflammation of the sinuses, and break up mucus. It's a safe herbal blend too---even children can drink it up! You might want to sweeten it first, though.
6. Breathe Sniffle Tincture
Frankly, I love tinctures. Once they are made, they are so easy to use. They are also easy to take along with you! This is an herbal blend that my family has been using for years, and it really works---quite fast, too!
Tinctures are actually very easy to make....they just take time to infuse: about 4 to 8 weeks depending on the herbs you use.
There are two main herbs in this tincture: Mullein and Marshmallow. This combination has the perfect blend of anti-inflammatory properties with expectorant and decongestant properties. When I share this with my friends during allergy season, they are seriously amazed at how fast they feel better! Both of these herbs are extremely safe, even for children. Mullein also helps strengthen and tone the lungs.
***Angie, over at Schneider Peeps, has created this eCourse about other things you can do to help out with colds and flu! :-) Check it out! ...And now for Number Seven!
7. Essential Oils alone or in a Vapor Salve
Some essential oils are amazingly fabulous for helping clear up your sinuses! Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Rosemary, etc. are some examples. Some of these may be used directly on your skin (neat), such as eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint. Other "hot" oils, like rosemary, should not be used directly on the skin, as they can cause sensitivity or possibly even burn. Always do some research on the essential oils you use to be sure you are following good safe practices.
If you don't want to use essential oils directly on your skin or your children's skin, there are other alternatives. You can add essential oils to a carrier oil and rub in that way. A carrier oil would be almond oil or fractionated coconut oil. Just place 15 drops or so in a roller bottle and fill with the carrier oil.
My preferred way is to use the essential oils in your very own Vapor Rub.
Here is a recipe for making your own Vapor Rub:
1 cup of Almond Oil (very emollient, and absorbs quickly into the skin)
30 to 40 drops of Essential Oil Blend---
You can adjust up or down, depending on how strong you want your vapor rub. I personally am a bit heavy handed with the oils I use to clear sinuses. If, once you get the essential oils added to the melted oils, the mixture doesn't smell strong enough for you, just add a bit more. Essential oils are very powerful, so a little does go a long way.
Essential Oils---see my blend below OR you can purchase great blends that are meant for clearing your sinuses and helping with respiration. DoTerra has an excellent blend called Breathe that my family uses often for congestion. You can also purchase single oils from them and blend them on your own too!
Here is my own personal essential oil blend for clearing up a stuffy nose:
10 drops Eucalyptus
10 drops Peppermint
5 drops Rosemary
2 to 3 drops Camphor
2 to 3 drops Tea Tree Oil
How to Make Vapor Rub
Step 1) Place the almond oil in a Mason jar, along with the beeswax.
Step 2) Grab a sauce pan and put about 2 inches of water in it. Place the Mason jar with oils into the water.
Step 3) Set burner to low, and bring the water to a very low simmer. The beeswax will melt into the almond oil.
Step 4) Remove the Mason jar from the pan and give a good stir. Then stir in your essential oils well.
Step 5) Pour into a clean jar. I use amber glass jars to hold my salves.
Step 6) Allow to set up for a couple of hours, depending on how warm it is. Don't touch it for awhile---just let it firm up.
It's now ready to use! Rub it onto your chest and breathe deeply!
Finally, stay hydrated by drinking lots of tea or water! Water helps to break up yucky congestion too! The more water you drink, the more functional your body systems will be, including your sinuses. And one more thing: If you are ill, get some rest! Your body will thank you!
How do you deal with a stuffy nose? I'd love to hear about your own remedies, or if you've tried any of mine!
Hugs & Self-Reliance!
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