Ahhh, cold and flu season is upon us again. Of all the winter ailments that may befall us, the stuffy, sneezy symptoms that arrive with the common cold are some of the worst. Not only are they downright annoying, but not being able to breathe makes it more difficult to do other things like sleep, eat and just about everything in between. But before you reach for over the counter medicines to help relieve sinus pressure and congestion, why not turn to some natural ways to help provide relief–pronto.
7 home remedies for a stuffy nose
1. Salt water drops
Saltwater washes help keep the nasal passages open by rinsing out mucus. They can also help clear the sinuses, thus preventing the spread of infection and curing a runny nose.
You can make your own saline nose drops by mixing 1 cup warm distilled water with ½ teaspoon non-iodized sea salt and ½ teaspoon baking soda in a glass jar. Shake well until the salt and baking soda have dissolved.
To use, lie on your back and put the tip of a dropper just past the inside of the nostril. Use 1-3 drops per nostril and stay in the same position for 5-10 minutes to allow the solution to flow into the nasal passages. Wait a few minutes and then blow your nose. You can repeat this process up to 3 times a day until symptoms have subsided.
2. Spicy decongestant
Why not try making your own all-natural decongestant at home to help thin the mucus and unblock your nose and chest? The capsaicin in hot pepper will help open up your nasal air passages and decrease sinus inflammation so you can breathe more easily, while the vinegar will help thin out mucus and the honey and ginger will soothe inflammation and improve circulation.
Spicy Decongestant Recipe
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- Combine everything in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.
- Adults should take 2 tablespoons daily and children should take 1 tablespoon daily.
3. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Loaded with antibacterial and antifungal properties, apple cider vinegar helps kill the bacteria that caused the infection in the first place. It can also help prevent the recurrence of the infection and boost the immune system to better fight against future invaders. Be sure to select unpurified apple cider vinegar “with the mother” to reap all the probiotic benefits vinegar has to offer.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to use apple cider vinegar is simply by drinking it. Mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water and drink three times a day until symptoms go away.
4. Warm compress with ginger
Much like an herbal steam, a warm compress helps to relieve pain and increase circulation, while the addition of ginger helps soothe inflammation. For even more relief, try alternating a warm compress with a cold compress to further increase circulation and help keep nasal passages clear.
Grate a 2-inch piece of ginger into a cup. Pour boiling water over the ginger and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
Once the tea has cooled enough to touch it without burning yourself, dip a hand towel in the warm ginger tea. Squeeze the towel to drain off the excess liquid.
Lie down on your back, close your eyes and place the warm towel on your face and breathe in deeply. Repeat this 4-5 times or until the ginger tea has cooled completely.
5. Soothing massage
When you’re suffering from sinus pressure and congestion, massaging your sinuses may help to alleviate irritation and drain a stuffy nose.
Using your fingertips, apply gentle pressure to your cheeks, just to the side of each nostril. If you don’t experience any relief after about a minute, increase the pressure slightly and move your fingers in a circular motion. Do this for an additional minute.
Next, use your fingertips to apply pressure to the inner corners of your eyes. Increase the pressure and use circular movements, if needed.
6. Herbal steam with essential oils
Herbal steams are a great way to soothe coughing and congestion during illness. Inhaling steam helps to loosen congestion, calm inflammation and relax nasal passages so you can breathe more easily. And the best part is that they only take a few minutes to setup and they can be made with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
To a pot of water, add about 3-4 tablespoons of fresh eucalyptus, thyme, or rosemary leaves (essential oils can also be used in place of fresh herbs). Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and hold your face about 12 inches above the pot. Cover both your head and the pot completely with a bath towel to trap in steam, and with your eyes closed, take several slow, deep breaths. Repeat as needed.
7. Lemon salt elixir
A homemade electrolyte drink will help replenish minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium and magnesium that our bodies have lost while being sick. Sea salt is rich in trace minerals while lemons contain electrolytes, both of which help maintain the immune system and relieve cold and flu symptoms.
To make, combine 4 cups filtered water with ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon non-iodized sea salt. Mix everything together until the salt is completely dissolved. Sip throughout the day to stay hydrated.