Congestion—sometimes referred to as “stuffy nose”—is a common symptom of colds, flu and upper respiratory infection. Decongestants are substances that ease breathing by opening nasal passages or thinning mucus secretions. There are many natural decongestants from which to choose, some of which are as effective as popular decongestant medications.
Hot peppers are one of the most effective natural decongestants available. Unlike most medications, they work immediately, opening clogged nasal passages to make breathing easier.
Peppers contain a compound known as capsaicin, that is useful for treating congestion, pain and many other ailments. According to Natures-Health-Foods.com, capsaicin works in a similar fashion to the expectorant drug guaifenesin, helping dislodge mucus in the lungs and nasal passages to provide quick relief from congestion. Any “hot” pepper will work as a decongestant, including jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne and chili peppers.
Fresh raw onions are another great decongestant from the vegetable family. They contain a compound called quercetin that acts as an immune stimulant, antioxidant and decongestant.
To make use of the decongestant properties of onions, simply slice a raw onion and inhale its pungent aroma, then add liberally to your favorite dish. Garlic and scallops are in the same family as onions and are equally effective at alleviating congestion.
Steam inhalation is a form of hydrotherapy used for centuries as a remedy for the symptoms of various respiratory ailments. It works by shrinking inflamed nasal passages, thereby aiding in the drainage of mucus and phlegm. The heat also has pain relieving properties, making steam a great remedy for head and muscle aches associated with the flu and other respiratory ailments.
To safely use steam as a decongestant, simply turn your bathroom into a sauna by closing the door and turning on the hot water in the shower. Sit on the toilet or get into the shower and breathe deeply for a quick and easy congestion remedy.
Owing to its immune stimulating properties, vitamin C is a great remedy for congestion and other cold and flu symptoms. It thins mucus and boosts immunity for a natural and effective decongestant effect.
In order to attain the decongestant benefits of vitamin C, it’s necessary to take larger doses than normal. Up to four grams can be taken every three hours, but such doses may cause side effects like diarrhea and stomach upset. To decrease stomach irritation, take with food and choose a buffered form of vitamin C, such as Ester-C.
Eucalyptus is the minty-smelling ingredient in most vapor rubs and over-the-counter nasal inhalers. Oil of eucalyptus contains the active ingredient eucalyptol, which is responsible for most of its pain-relieving and decongestant properties.
While inhalation of small amounts of eucalyptus oil is usually considered safe, oral ingestion or inhalation of larger amounts can be harmful or fatal. Eucalyptus oil should never be used by children under age six.