Seven Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Congestion FAST! (Natural, Easy Decongestant Ideas and Recipes That Work)
NOTE: I’m sharing my seven best home remedies we use to get rid of congestion from allergies, cold, and flu. These are easy, natural, and they work fast! Some you can make ahead, and others are ready to go right away. When all you want is some blessed relief from nasal congestion, here are some strategies to try.
Stuffy nose (a.k.a. nasal congestion) is arguably one of the most horrible things about getting the common cold or a case of sinusitis. It's not much better if it's caused by allergies either! This post was prompted because one of my friends called to ask how to get rid of her stuffy nose. She feels like she is coming down with that awful thing....the Big Bad Cold.
HELP! I Can't Breathe! This Sinus Congestion is Killing Me!
One of the very worst things about getting a cold (or allergy season) 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 chemical decongestants (over the counter medicines) into your body.
Here are my favorite natural ways to get rid of nasal congestion:
You may also be interested in these related articles in my cold and flu care series:
Here is an article for children specifically: How to Boost Your Child's Immune System.
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
What is a Stuffy Nose (Nasal Congestion)?
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 stop that stuffy nose and nasal congestion!
Foods That Can Affect Sinus Health
When you’re looking for the most effective sinus decongestant, sometimes it’t the things you DON’T use that may make a huge difference.
Did you know there are foods that can cause sinus inflammation? Of course, this is different for all of us, but you might want to consider avoiding certain kinds of foods.
According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, these kinds of foods may contribute to excess congestion:
Processed sugars (high fructose corn sugar is number one on my hit list to stay away from, among others including sucrose)
Dairy foods and other foods high in saturated fats. Honestly, when I stopped partaking of my beloved heavy whipping cream in my bullet proof coffee, my congestion settled right down. There must be something to this. Unfortunately.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a chemical flavor enhancer that’s found in most processed foods these days. It’s terrible for you.
Omega-6 fatty acids. These are not the Omega-3’s you WANT in your diet….the Omega-6 fatty acids are those related to corn, soy, and highly processed oils.
Gluten. Yep—-wheat and many grains can contribute to congestion.
Highly processed and refined carbohydrates—-the “white” carbs such as instant potatoes, white flours, and others.
You know, when I started eating a more paleo/keto style of diet lifestyle, I noticed a nearly immediate (within a week) reduction of general inflammation in my body, including sinus congestion. You might want to consider becoming a label reader and removing some of these items to see if it helps!
AND, you might just be interested in this article on a “Good, Better, Best” way to look for foods to eat. I’ve taken nine categories of foods (meats, dairy, grains, vegetables, etc.) and categorized them so it’s easy to decide what to buy (or not) for your best health and wellness.
OK—now to the nitty gritty ways to lose that stuffed up nose!
Ways to Get Rid of Stuffy, Clogged or Runny Nose
These best ideas and home remedies for clearing up a stuffy nose are listed in order from the simplest to more complicated remedies. They are NOT listed by effectiveness, as this is individual, so feel free to try any and all of them.
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, so be ready with some tissues!
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 again!
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 Homemade 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! The way it works is the healing powers of honey and raw vinegar combine with the nasal clearing ability of the cayenne for a remarkably effective and safe decongestant!
Here is my easy and quick (and one of my most requested remedies) 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. You can find out more about herbal water infusions in this article of my How to Start Using Herbs Series.
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, as they are so concentrated. This is an herbal blend that my family has been using for years, and it really works---quite fast, too!
There are two main herbs in this tincture: Mullein and Marshmallow. This combination has the perfect blend of anti-inflammatory and demulcent (soothing) 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.
In fact, I was a lifetime sufferer of allergies and the requisite congestion that comes with them…until I started taking this tincture. After awhile….I stopped experiencing allergy symptoms altogether! Now they are a rarity for me.
When I think back to all the years I spent battling allergy symptoms, ALL the OTC and Rx medications….I kind of feel a little put out by how simple and easy and effective this herbal remedy is! Why don’t more people know about this?
Anyway……I’ll stop this train of thought, as I feel a rant coming on……
To find out how to make this incredible Breathe Tincture, just click the link. (NOTE: That is my own name for this combo—-you can call it anything you like.) To find out more about tinctures and easy directions for how to make a tincture, visit this article.
AND...if you don't want to dabble with making your own tinctures or teas yourself, Starwest Botanicals also has ready-made herbal teas and tinctures for you!
7. Essential Oils alone or in a Vapor Salve
Always dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil before using on your skin, just to be on the safe side. 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. A good amount of essential oil for an adult is 12 to 15 drops or so in a 10 mL roller bottle.
Add in your essential oils, swirl gently. Then add your carrier oil and shake to mix.
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)
Approximately 200 total drops of Essential Oil Blend--- (This is the same ratio, approximately, as 12 drops in a 10 mL roller bottle, perhaps a little less.)
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 goes 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. That link is to Rocky Mountain oils--just search "Breathe Ease" and it will pop up.
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
NOTE: If you are using this blend to make the Vapor Rub Salve recipe above, just increase the drops of the essential oils proportionately until you have a total of roughly 200 drops.
ANOTHER NOTE: Eucalyptus and Rosemary may not be safe for children under 10. I have used them with my children with no issues, however, be sure to do your own research and make sure you’re comfortable. If in doubt, ask your doctor.
How to Make Homemade Vapor Rub
**You can find out a lot more about making your own homemade salves, butters, and balms for a variety of conditions in this eBook: Herbal Salves, Oils, Butters & Balms. :-)
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!
Final Thoughts on Natural Remedies for Getting Rid of a Stuffed Up Nose and Congestion
You know what? It's so easy (NOT—-when you consider time, effort, and money) to head to the store and grab some over the counter chemical concoction that will temporarily clear up your congestion.
However, these products do terrible things to the delicate blood vessels in your nasal passages and are horribly addictive too! Why not try a simple and natural (and effective) home remedy or two?
Turning to nature and Grandma's natural remedies is the best way to get rid of nasal congestion. Really. In fact, the Mayo Clinic suggests NOT overdoing the over the counter decongestants.
I agree. I have a friend who is now addicted to a certain nasal spray…and it’s the most horrible thing to watch him put those chemicals in his nose constantly….because his poor sinus area just doesn’t work like it should any more.
And these things are SO easy to do and/or make, too. I hope you'll give one or more of these remedies a try next time you are battling a case of stuffy nose or nasal congestion!
How do you deal with a stuffy, congested nose? I'd love to hear about your own remedies, or if you've tried any of mine!
Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance!
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P.P.S. Have you thought about learning about herbalism? How to make your own plant medicine? Have you dreamed of becoming independent from Big Pharma and commercial drugs? I've been taking courses a long time, and I love the classes from The Herbal Academy of New England. Take a look! They seriously have something for everyone!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and in no manner, stated or implied, is any information contained in this website or article meant to cure, diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical issue. Please see your doctor or medical practitioner for advice on treating health problems and before using herbs or essential oils. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Read full policies & disclosures & disclaimers here