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Essential Oils for Congestion

Updated: Jan 5

Nasal congestion usually isn’t serious for older children and adults; it’s more of an annoyance. But congestion for younger children, especially infants whose sleep is disturbed by their nasal congestion, might have a hard time feeding as a result. So what can you do? That’s where essential oils come in.

rosemary essential oil

Sickness is inevitable; unfortunately, you can be sure that your little one will come down with a bug at some point. With illness, they may have congestion, which occurs when the nasal cavity and adjacent tissues and blood vessels become swollen with excess fluid, causing a stuffy or plugged feeling, often referred to as a stuffy nose (1).

Congestion is something I have struggled with for a while. I dealt with congestion when I experienced mold exposure, seasonal allergies, and sinus infections. Thankfully, congestion doesn't need over-the-counter medication; sometimes, just diffusing an essential oil can bring great relief, especially alongside other alternative methods like using a neti pot.


Before you proceed to read this post, please remember to remedy an ailment with essential oils successfully; you must use them properly, so let’s discuss some dos and don’ts when it comes to essential oils.

DO dilute all essential oils as directed on the bottle.

DO NOT ingest essential oils.

DO use essential oils topically and always dilute them.

DO NOT apply directly on the skin.

DO use caution around pets and children

DO NOT disregard safety information

This is just a brief run down, but I recommend reviewing my full list of essential oil safety tips.

Regarding essential oil brands, I recommend, my top three are Plant Therapy, Simply Earth, and Earthley Wellness. With that said, I want to start by saying Plant Therapy’s Kid-Safe Essential Oils are specifically formulated for children ages two and up as a safety precaution.

plant therapy clary sage essential oil for congestion

#1 Clary Sage Essential Oil

Clary Sage Essential Oil is widely used for topical, respiratory, digestive, emotional, and feminine issues. Clary sage essential oil has been used to help heal severe dermatological infections caused by several strains of Staphylococcus bacteria (3). Clary Sage essential oil also has antimicrobial properties, which may fight sinusitis or congestion caused by bacteria (4).

There are no known hazards for steam-distilled Clary Sage, but a dermal maximum of 0.25% is recommended (5). Aside from being kid-safe, Plant Therapy lists their clary sage essential oil as safe for breastfeeding, dogs, and horses, but it is unsafe during pregnancy.

plant therapy lavender essential oil for congestion

#2 Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Essential Oil is best known for its calming and soothing properties, but it’s so much more than that. Studies suggest lavender essential oil may have analgesic or pain-relieving effects and reduce inflammation (6), which may help improve symptoms of sinus congestion by reducing pain and swelling.

Trusted aromatherapist Wendy Robbins doesn’t indicate any special precautions when using Lavender Essential Oil (7). Aside from being kid-safe, Plant Therapy lists their lavender essential oil as safe for pregnancy, breastfeeding, dogs, and horses.

Have you heard rumors surrounding lavender being unsafe for pre-pubertal boys? Check out my lavender herbal profile to learn the truth.

plant therapy lemon essential oil for congestion

#3 Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon Essential Oil is commonly known for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties that are often used for cleaning (8,9). Lemon essential oil has antibacterial properties that fight infection-causing bacteria and may prevent skin inflammation (10).

Trusted aromatherapist Wendy Robbins cautions that cold-pressed lemon essential oil is phototoxic while steam-distilled is not. A dermal maximum of 2.0% for the cold-pressed lemon essential oil is recommended to avoid the risk of a phototoxic reaction. Additionally, topical use of oxidized lemon essential oil is cautioned against regardless of the distillation method (11). Aside from being kid-safe, Plant Therapy lists their lemon essential oil as safe for pregnancy, breastfeeding, dogs, and horses.

plant therapy spearmint essential oil for congestion

#4 Spearmint Essential Oil

Spearmint Essential Oil is an excellent alternative to Peppermint Essential Oil, which is not kid-safe. Studies have found that spearmint essential oil is effective against several harmful bacteria, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and one Candida species (12). Another study found spearmint essential oil effective against eleven Lamiaceae species, including Coridothymus capitatus L., Lavandula stoechas L., Lavandula angustifolia Mill., Mentha spicata L. subsp. condensata, Origanum syriacum L., Rosmarinus officinalis, Salvia fruticosa Miller., Satureja cuneifolia Ten., Satureja thymbra L., Thymbra spicata L., and Vitex agnus-castus L. (13).

Trusted aromatherapist Wendy Robbins warns that spearmint essential oil is a potential mucous membrane irritant. Wendy Robbins also cautions that there is a low risk of skin sensitization and recommends a dermal maximum of 1.7% (14). Aside from being kid-safe, Plant Therapy lists their spearmint essential oil as safe for pregnancy, breastfeeding, dogs, and horses.

plant therapy tea tree essential oil for congestion

#5 Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea Tree Essential Oil is well-known for its many health benefits. One study notes that a compound called alpha-sabine in tea tree oil is responsible for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties (15). Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may also reduce inflammation (16), which could help bring down sinus swelling and relieve symptoms of congestion.

Trusted aromatherapist Wendy Robbins indicates a low risk of skin sensitization when using tea tree essential oil. Wendy Robbins also recommends a dermal maximum of 15% and precautions against using oxidized tea tree essential oil (17). Aside from being kid-safe, Plant Therapy lists their tea tree essential oil as safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding but not for dogs and horses.

earthley wellness immune support essential oil blend for congestion

#6 Immune-Support Essential Oil Blend

Earthley’s Immune Support Essential Oil Blend is designed for natural, kid-safe immune support, which can be beneficial when congested and potentially fighting an illness. This blend combines the antibacterial and anti-viral properties of frankincense, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, and fir needle to create this power-packed blend.

Earthley recommends diluting their essential oil blend to 0.5-2% for topical use (they suggest a neutral, skin-safe oil like jojoba, apricot, or cucumber seed oil) or adding 2-4 drops to a diffuser.

10% off Earthley wellness promo code

Remember, many oils are not kid-safe at any dilution. Plant Therapy is a reputable online resource dedicated to practicing essential oil safety. Plant Therapy has a list of constituents in oils that should be avoided with children, plus even more kid-safe oils in their article Essential Oils for Kids: What’s Safe and What’s Not.

⚠️ Warning: The Holistic Hipppie is not a functional medicine practitioner. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This content is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or replace medical guidance. The Holistic Hipppie assumes no liability for the application of the information discussed.

What's your favorite essential oil to use for congestion?

Sarena-Rae Santos

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