Essential Oils for Congestion

As we briefly touched on in our Treating a Cold Naturally post, essential oils can be an extremely helpful way to support the body naturally when suffering with congestion. This post will be an expansion of the short list of oils included in that post as well as a discussion on how best to use essential oils to help ease congestion. 


*Please note - Essential Oil use is not recommended for babies under 6 months and there is a very limited list of oils that are considered safe for children under 10 years of age.  

How to Use Essential Oils for Congestion:

Diffusing - When diffusing, we use 5 drops of essential oil in a diffuser filled with water and run 30 minutes at a time. When diffusing it's important to choose oils/blends that are appropriate for the youngest  individual that may be in the area where the diffuser is located.

For example, during the day we diffuse blends that are safe for 2 years + since we have a little one in the house.  But at night, since she sleeps in her own room, we may diffuse blends recommended for ages 10 years +  

Personal Inhaler - Personal inhalers are a perfect solution when you want the benefits of diffusing essential oils but can't actually diffuse for any number of reasons. Perfect to keep in your pocket or purse when at work or traveling in the car. 

Steam Inhalation - As we discussed in our Treating a Cold Naturally post, steam is another natural way to help relieve congestion.  To take it up a notch, we can add essential oils to our steam as well.  We do this by adding just a couple of drops to the steam solution just before beginning the inhalation of the steam.

Topical Application - Another popular way of using essential oils to help support the body is by topical application. When applying topically it's important to ensure that the oils are gentle enough so that we don't cause sensitivity, especially in our little ones. Therefore, the blends that we diffuse might be different than those that we apply topically. Another important consideration In topical application is the dilution percentage that you're using. Dilution will vary based on the age of the individual as well as the oil being applied.  These considerations are what led us to offer our Herbal Chest Rub in several variations.

Robert Tisserand's recommendations are a great starting place when learning about dilution.  His recommendation is below taken from  an interview which you can read more about here:

  • 0.2% for up to 3 months
  • 0.5% for up to 2 years
  • 2% for ages 2-6

A chest rub is our favorite way to topically apply essential oils for congestion. Another popular method is to apply diluted oils to the bottom of the feet using a rollerball.


Which Oils are Helpful for Congestion?

A wonderful reference for those concerned with safe essential oil use is the book Essential Oil Safety – By Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young. Much of the information below is based on that resource. 

6 months +

  • Lavender – One of the gentlest essential oils. Lavender is highly antiseptic and antibacterial. A member of the mint family, lavender does a great job of opening up the airways while also helping to calm you down for a good night's rest.
  • Roman Chamomile - A natural antihistamine and anti-convulsant, chamomile essential oil can also help to calm the mind so that you can get a good night's sleep
  • Cinnamon Leaf - Naturally antiviral and antiseptic. Cinnamon leaf is also a great decongestant. It's warming properties help to increase circulation, helping to speed up the healing process. *Can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted when used topically.
  • Cypress - Cypress is a natural antiseptic expectorant and really does a great job of helping to open up the airways for easier breathing.
  • Lemon - Highly antiseptic and antibacterial, citrus essential oils have properties that help to break up mucus easing congestion. While Lemon is safe for diffusion, Sweet orange is suggested as an alternative in topical application as it's less harsh on the skin than lemon.
  • Lime - Highly antiseptic and antibacterial, citrus essential oils have properties that help to break up mucus easing congestion.
  • Pine - Naturally antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral, pine essential oil is a fabulous decongestant and expectorant. *Very potent - Can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted when used topically.
  • Ravensara - Not to be confused with “Ravintsara” essential oil (which is toxic), Ravensara is an antiviral and anti-infectious agent used during the cold and flu season. Great for chest congestion, bronchitis, and even sinusitis. *Very potent - Can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted when used topically.
  • Sweet Orange - Highly antiseptic and antibacterial, citrus essential oils have properties that help to break up mucus easing congestion
  • Tea Tree - Highly antiseptic and antibacterial essential oil that is well known for its expectorant use with coughs, congestion as well as it's ability to help fight off viruses
  • White Fir - A natural cough suppressant and expectorant, fir needle is a woodsy essential oil that can be used in place of eucalyptus when making child-friendly congestion blends.

2 Years +

  • Basil - A natural expectorant. Helps with chest congestion, lung, and respiratory issues. Naturally antiseptic, antibacterial, and a decongestant. A little goes a long way!
  • Clove Bud - Anti-inflammatory in nature which helps to open airways.  Clove Bud is also a natural expectorant
  • Frankincense - A powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic expectorant. Perfect for opening up the airways and helping to clear mucus. 
  • Juniper Berry - Highly antiseptic and works great for cough or congestion.
  • Spearmint - Much gentler than peppermint, spearmint is a natural expectorant and excellent at opening up the airways.  A wonderful substitute for peppermint in child-friendly blends
  • Sweet Marjoram - Highly antiseptic and antiviral. An expectorant that helps open up the airways and relaxes the body for a good night's rest.
  • Thyme - Highly antiseptic and antiviral, thyme is a natural expectorant and well-known for easing chest congestion and coughs. *Very potent - Can cause irritation if not diluted properly.

10 years +

  • Eucalyptus - An antiviral oil which works as a wonderful decongestant. Eucalyptus contains a high menthol content. A go-to for chest congestion, coughs, and stuffy noses
  • Peppermint - Contains a high menthol content which is helpful in opening up airways and easing congestion.  Peppermint is naturally antiseptic, antibacterial and a natural expectorant. 
  • Rosemary – Highly antiseptic and anti-microbial, rosemary is another mint family member that is great at helping to open up the airways and ease congestion.


Blending Suggestions

6 months +

2 drops Lavender
2 drops Roman Chamomile
5 drops Fir Needle
5 drops Sweet Orange
5 drops Cinnamon Leaf
4 drops Lavender


2 years +

2 drops Spearmint
2 drops Juniper Berry
1 drops Lavender 
4 drops Cinnamon Leaf
4 drops Sweet Orange

4 drops Clove Bud
3 drops Lavender
2 drops Fir Needle
2 drops Frankincense

10 years +

Eucalyptus and Peppermint Essential Oils contain a high levels of menthol, which is the property that helps to open up your nasal passages when you're congested. We reserve this blend for our older kids and adults as the menthol can cause respiratory issues for our younger children and babies:

2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Eucalyptus
1 drop Rosemary
1 drop Lavender


If you're new to essential oils and not sure where to start but want to begin using essential oils to support your body, please feel free to contact me.  I would love to share my experiences with you and help you in any way that I can.  You can message me directly from facebook, the messenger icon on the website or by sending an email to

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