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The Best Essential Oils for Treating Sinus Infections

Sinus infections are excruciating and annoying when they occur. Your sinuses affect your nasal congestion, eye pressure, ears, and head pressure -- causing some unbearable symptoms. Sinus infections (sinusitis) are often identified when your nasal cavities become swollen, congested, and inflamed.

These infections are often occurring due to respiratory viruses, or other bacteria that have become abundant in the body. Treating sinus infections can be achieved in many different ways including, prescription medications like antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants, or nasal sprays. If decongestant nasal sprays are used too frequently or improperly, they have the potential to make the infection symptoms worse.

For people who try to stay away from prescription medication, you may find some relief by treating your sinus infection with essential oils (EO). There have been studies conducted on certain essential oils that have tested their properties to see how they could benefit people suffering from sinus infections. As always, if you have not researched aromatherapy before and do not know if essential oils will benefit your particular case, the information in this article should be confirmed by your health care practitioner before use. 

Which Oils are Best for Treating a Sinus Infection?

Several essential oils contain properties that can help ease different symptoms of a sinus infection. We will be going through the best essential oils for sinus infections and congestion in this article to help you better understand how essential oils can relieve your symptoms.

Please note that the purity and quality of the essential oil you choose to treat congestion or sinusitis will affect the results. The more pure and high quality the essential oil is, the greater your results will be. Feel free to check out our favorite essential oil brands here

Tea Tree Oil - A Powerful Healer

Tea tree oil is a powerful essential oil to use when fighting bacteria and viruses. The tea tree plant is also known as Melaleuca. A study conducted in 2015 found that the tea tree plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, insecticidal, and immune-stimulant properties.

Tea tree is a popular essential oil used to help relieve respiratory illnesses. The antibacterial and antiviral properties in the oil can fight the bacteria or virus affecting the body which could be causing sinusitis. Therefore breaking up and killing the cause of the sinus infection -- providing some relief to the body.

Another great benefit of melaleuca oil is the immune-stimulant properties found in the solution. Using melaleuca properly may increase your immunity, therefore limiting the number of bacteria and viruses that can harm your body leading to a sinus infection or congestion. Anti-inflammatory properties are also extremely important when fighting sinusitis, as they can help bring down the swelling in the nasal cavities. 

Eucalyptus Oil - Tried & True for Sinuses

The eucalyptus plant comes from the same family as the melaleuca plant, Myrtaceae. The plant is commonly found in regions of Australia. According to a 2015 study, eucalyptus oil, similar to tea tree oil, can be helpful in aiding respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, sinusitis, throat infections, asthma, and bronchitis.

Eucalyptus is also helpful in boosting immune function, decreasing the probability of retracting any of these health concerns. Eucalyptus essential oil also contains anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties, encouraging results when fighting sinusitis. Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in most vapor rubs or decongestants on the market. Eucalyptus oil can be helpful in relieving symptoms of sinusitis like headache, nasal obstruction, and a runny nose. A great way to use eucalyptus essential oil for sinus congestion is to find a vapor rub product with the essential oil in it. This will guarantee the effectiveness and safety of the essential oil. Essential oils can be too potent when used on the skin without being diluted, so finding a product where it is already mixed in is a great option -- or you can try to make one yourself.

Peppermint Oil - The Anti-Inflammatory

Similar to eucalyptus, peppermint has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and immune-boosting properties. Just as eucalyptus is used in vapor rubs, mint (menthol) is also commonly used. Peppermint oil can help to break up sinus congestion, making it easier to breathe.

Peppermint is also commonly known for its cooling sensation when applied to the skin. The cooling sensation is actually what helps to break up congestion in the sinuses and nasal cavities. Nasal cavities and sinuses can be stimulated by peppermint oil, causing them to open the airways and clear mucus. Peppermint oil's anti-bacterial properties also help to fight against bacteria in the body causing sinusitis. 

Oregano Oil - An Anti-Bacterial Wonder

Oregano essential oil is a fantastic anti-bacterial. Research suggests that carvacrol, one of the main components of oregano oil, can actually inhibit bacteria from growing.

Oil of oregano can be helpful in preventing sinusitis or congestion when used prior to the overgrowth of bacteria in the body -- making it easier for your immune system to shut down the virus or bacteria before turning into an infection. 

How to Use

Essential oils are easy to use in various ways. However, it is important to know the correct ways to use essential oils because the potency of the oils can sometimes be toxic if misused. Typically, we would not recommend ingesting essential oils to minimize the risk of toxicity or damage to the body. That being said, there are several other safe, and healthy ways to use essential oils for congestion or sinusitis flare-ups.


Using a diffuser is a safe way to gain the benefits of essential oil for congestion. A diffuser mixes the oil with water which is heated to generate steam that then gently diffuses into the air of your home. Not only does this provide the benefits of essential oils, risk-free, but it also makes your home smell fresh and comfortable. A diffuser can run between 3-5 hours, which is a fantastic way to continually use aromatherapy.


Similar to the effects of a diffuser, adding a couple of drops of essential oils to a bowl of hot water, and then holding your face close to the water is a therapeutic way of receiving the benefits of the oils. This will be a more intense version of using a diffuser. To intensify the experience more, consider containing the steam with a towel and then putting your head under the tower, yet still over the bowl. This will trap the steam so that it cannot escape from under the towel, forcing more steam into your body through penetrating the pores of your skin, and inhalation.


Another effective way to use EO's is to grab a kleenex and place one or two drops onto the tissue and gently inhaling the scent.


Topical use of essential oils can be very effective if used correctly. You should never place an essential oil directly on your skin without mixing it with an oil to dilute it. Essential oils are extremely potent and concentrated, which can be damaging to the barrier of your skin if used directly. If you have sensitive skin it is especially important to find a carrier oil (like coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, or grapeseed oil) and mix the essential oil into the carrier oil. This will minimize the risk of skin irritation or damage. Once you have created a mixture with the essential oil of choice and a carrier oil, you are then able to apply the mixture to your skin. Some great places to put the essential oil mixture for sinus congestion and infection would be underneath the nose, chest, bottoms of feet, temples, neck/throat, and behind the ears. 


Overall, it is possible to relieve sinus infections and congestion with the help of essential oils. There are proven components of certain essential oils that may help clear up congestion or act as an antibiotic in the body to fight off infection caused by a virus or bacteria.

Several of the essential oils we discussed above contain components that are antibacterial and antimicrobial which can also aid with fighting bacteria and infection. What many people do not know, is that synthetic medicine is often created to imitate properties that are commonly found in nature, modified in a lab, and sold as prescription medication. Natural remedies, like essential oils, contain those healing properties and can be used to aid certain health concerns.

That being said, prescription medications are often developed to work most effectively and quickly -- because they are regulated and tested. A problem with essential oil is that some brands often do not test their oils for quality or purity, and therefore their effectiveness may be lower than that of prescription medication. It is always recommended to research the brand before purchasing essential oils so that you are guaranteed a pure, high-quality oil that will provide the body with more benefits than one that is not.

We have reviewed several essential oil brands and provided information regarding their testing procedures. Check out what we think the best essential oil brands are here.  Although research and scientific experimentation have concluded that essential oils can be effective in treating sinus infections, it should always be discussed with a health care practitioner before excessive use for relieving sinus infections.

Using essential oils for sinus infections is a great alternative for individuals trying to decrease their intake of synthetic medications or prescription drugs. The next time you are struggling with congestion or infection in the nasal cavity, try relieving the symptoms with the implementation of essential oils! Who knows, you may have found a great solution to your congestion. 


What is the fastest way to get rid of a sinus infection?

Sinus infections can take some time to clear up, but there are actions you can take to speed up the rate of recovery. Implementing the use of essential oils like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, oregano oil, and peppermint can provide benefits to killing bacteria and breaking up congestion. Getting enough water, medicine, and rest is also essential to clear up a sinus infection and sinus congestion.

What is the best natural antibiotic for a sinus infection?

Oregano essential oil is a great option when looking for an EO with antibiotic properties. Oregano oil is going to aid in killing the bacteria, or virus in your body.

How do you use tea tree oil for a sinus infection?

Tea Tree oil can be used to help treat sinus infections by inhalation, or topical treatment. Try dropping some tea tree oil into your diffuser throughout the day, or creating your own version of a 'vapor rub' by combining coconut oil with tea tree essential oil and eucalyptus oil for a refreshing and cooling mixture that will help break up congestion. 

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