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 for that sinus pressure and congestion, why not turn to some natural ways to help provide relief—pronto.
7 home remedies for a stuffy nose
1. Sinus wash and saltwater drops
Saltwater washes work to keep the nasal passages open by rinsing out mucus, letting the infectious contents flow out, and keeping the bacterial counts down [source]. This helps to clear the sinuses, thus providing some relief for your runny nose and preventing the spread of infection. It’s called “nasal hygiene,” and is considered therapeutic even though some might find the process a little daunting at first. But it does really work!
For an easy way to DIY your own nasal wash, along with some other suggestions to try, check out our 8 Best Sinus Infection Remedies. And for a more detailed explanation on how to do your saline sinus wash, take a look at Make Your Own Saline Rinse.
Placing a salty solution into the nasal passages is purported to decrease some of the swelling and make the area less habitable for viruses and bacteria. You can make your own saline nose drops with just a few simple ingredients, but you will need a dropper.
Start by mixing 1 cup warm distilled water with ½ teaspoon non-iodized sea salt and ½ teaspoon baking soda in a clean glass jar. Shake well until the salt and baking soda have dissolved.
To use, lie on your back and place the tip of the dropper just past the inside of your nostril. Use 1–3 drops per nostril and repeat on the other side. Try to stay in the same position for at least five minutes to allow the solution to flow into the nasal passages. Then get up and blow your nose. You can repeat this process up to three times a day until symptoms have subsided.
2. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Loaded with antibacterial and antifungal properties, apple cider vinegar works to kill the bacteria that caused the infection in the first place. It can also help prevent 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,” (or yeast culture) to reap all the probiotic benefits this 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.
3. Warm compress with ginger
Much like an herbal steam, a warm compress helps to relieve sinus pain due to congestion. It dilates the blood vessels, which increases circulation, and helps to open up the nasal passages, while the addition of ginger helps to soothe inflammation [source].
For even more relief, try alternating warm and cold compresses to further increase circulation and then shrink the mucous membrane tissues to, hopefully, open up your nose.
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 it has cooled enough to touch it without burning yourself but is still nice and warm, dip a hand towel into the 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.
4. 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.
A good time to do this massage would be while you are doing a steam bath for the nasal passages. Read on for directions below.
5. Herbal steam
Herbal steams are a great way to soothe coughing and congestion during illness. Inhaling steam helps to loosen mucus, calm inflammation, and relax the nasal passages so you can breathe more easily. And the best part is that they only take a few minutes to set up and they can be made with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen.
To a pot of water, add about 3–4 tablespoons of fresh eucalyptus, thyme, mint, or rosemary leaves (1-2 drops of essential oil can be used in place of fresh herbs). Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat source and wait for 1–2 minutes for the water to cool down just a bit.
Then position 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. Remain there for about 5 minutes, as tolerated, breathing in the steamy air slowly and relaxing your mind. Repeat as needed.
6. Lemon salt elixir
A homemade electrolyte drink will help replenish minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium that our bodies might have lost while being sick. Sea salt is rich in trace minerals, while lemons contain electrolytes (as well as vitamin C), which help maintain the immune system and relieve cold and flu symptoms. And the water is hydrating, which is very much needed when you have an upper respiratory infection, as well.
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. This can be gently warmed or taken cool. Sip throughout the day to stay hydrated.
7. Spicy decongestant shot
Why not try making your own all-natural decongestant at home to help thin the mucus and unblock your nose and chest? The pungent qualities of capsaicin in cayenne pepper will help open up your nasal air passages so you can breathe more easily, while the vinegar can help to thin out mucus, and the honey and ginger will soothe inflammation and improve circulation.
Spicy Decongestant Shot Recipe
- Small bowl
- Glass jar with lid
- 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.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.250