Getting the sniffles during this time of year is an inevitable annoyance for many of us; its the most unwelcome of winter traditions, so to speak. A stuffy nose can be especially frustrating since you’re not exactly sick and most cold medicines on the market help soothe a variety of other, more serious symptoms.
Popping a DayQuil when you’re merely stuffy may actually make you feel worse - light-headed, woozy, fuzzy - than the congestion ever did!
As you well know, we’re big fans of doing things the natural way at Rocky Mountain Essentials. There’s no reason to run to pick up an Rx when there are a number of safe, effective, herbal and natural decongestants out there. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites for you to keep on hand these next few months of winter!
Before we get into figuring out how to get rid of congestion fast, let’s talk about what’s happening inside your nose when it the sniffles hit.
There’s usually one of two things going on when you get congested. Either you’re sick or you have allergies! Your nose has a major network of blood vessels inside of it, all with valves that open and close. When those vessels are stimulated by any irritant (read: allergies), the nervous system is also stimulated. That stimulation causes the blood vessels to open to allow more blood to enter into the nose.
When you’re sick, your body starts producing extra mucus to help drain your body of the invading germs (and keep new ones out!) that are making you feel ill. That build up can happen in your sinuses, nose and your chest - it’s awful, right?
Natural Remedies for a Stuffy Nose
So, here are some simple tips for natural remedies for a stuffy nose:
Humidifier. Artificially adding more moisture into the air will help soothe those irritated blood vessels and thin out any mucus that’s built up in your sinuses.
Steam bath. Same concept as a humidifier only a bit more concentrated. Just fill a bathroom sink with hot water, put a towel around your head and keep your face over the water for 5-10 minutes to let the steam help open your nasal passages.
Netipot. While this centuries-old Ayurvedic method may seem intimidating (and gross! and weird!) to some, it’s actually a super safe way to help ease congestion. Just fill the pot with a saline nasal spray (we have a homemade recipe below!), tilt your head up and pour the solution into one nostril so that it flows out the other side. Sure, you may not want an audience for this one but the warm, salty mixture will help soothe your nasal passages in no time.
Vitamin C. Loading up on this cold-cutting vitamin isn’t news but never hurts to reiterate. The faster you’re able to boost your immune system while you’re sick, the faster your symptoms will subside! Try taking a Vitamin C pill every morning no matter how you’re feeling— prevention is best!
Decongestant Tea. There are many different kinds of everyday teas that contain natural decongestant properties. Head to the grocery store and pick up a box of any of the following kinds to help kickstart your body’s healing.
Herbal Decongestant. Try adding garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne, black pepper, dill, basil, and sage to your diet as often as possible. All these herbs and botanicals contain known anti-inflammatory and healing properties that will help ease your congestion.
Essential Oil Decongestant — Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus is known to have many healing properties; it’s a great natural decongestant because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Try putting a few drops on a handkerchief to inhale a few times a day or put some on your pillow to help heal you while you sleep. Bonus: it smells great too!
Lemon balm, peppermint, sage and chamomile are also effective essential oil decongestants you can add to your favorite tea. Or try adding a couple drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to your steam bath!
If you’re up for putting a bit more time and effort into your herbal and natural decongestants, we’ve found a few homemade decongestant recipes for you to try!
Bring the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to a simmer in a saucepan. Add in remaining ingredients. Let cool and store in a jar with tight-fitting lid. Take 1 spoonful daily as needed.
Wash, peel and cut all veggies into small pieces; put in blender and blend until smooth. Add honey and lemon juice and blend again. Put into an airtight glass container; take a spoonful daily as needed. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Warm the coconut oil so it’s not completely solid. Add a couple drops of the essential oil to the coconut oil and store in a glass container. Spread over your chest or dab under your nose as needed.
Warm the water in a saucepan to a comfortable temperature. Add the salt and baking soda directly to the NetiPot, add water, and shake/stir gently to combine. Then use NetiPot as directed on the packaging.
Slice ginger and put into a pot and cover fully with water. Bring water to a boil and then remove from heat with a lid. Let steep for 15 minutes. After it has cooled, pour into an airtight glass container. When you’re ready to drink it, bring back to a warm temperature on the stove and add the honey, vinegar and coconut oil.
Getting sick is the worst. We obviously want you to stay healthy all year long BUT if you do come down with the pesky stuffed up nose, we hope you can use some of our herbal and natural decongestant tips, recipes and advice to make sure you get rid of your congestion— fast!