Whether from a pesky cold virus, allergies or indoor irritants, congestion always puts a damper on things. Thankfully, a few simple, science-backed strategies will keep you breathing easy all winter long!
Sleep with Two Pillows
The simplest trick: sleeping with your head elevated on at least two pillows. “When your head is flat, mucus pools in your sinuses,” says DrAxe.com founder Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S. “Lifting your head helps keep nasal passages open, relieving congestion and sinus pressure.” One big bonus: It also helps prevent “mouth breathing,” which disrupts the sleep of 71 percent of folks with blocked sinuses and can worsen allergy symptoms.
Rinse with Dead Sea Salt
“This natural solution moistens dry nasal passages and clears out irritants like mucus, bacteria, dust, and pollen,” explains Dr. Axe. “It also boosts your body’s own defenses, helping the cilia — those hair-like structures that line the nasal cavity — to work better at ushering mucus and unwanted particles out of your nose.” In fact, one study found that a simple salt rinse reduced congestion, pressure and sinus pain 64 percent, making it nearly as effective as nasal steroids, without the side effects. To do: Boil 1 cup of tap (or distilled) water, then add 1⁄2 tsp. of Dead Sea salts and let cool until lukewarm. Pour the solution into a neti pot or nasal spray bottle and use as directed to flush your sinuses.
Inhale Soothing Scents
Breathing in the aroma of sandalwood, frankincense, and the wild shrub ravensara can cut stuffy-nose symptoms by 52 percent, according to a university study. Researchers suspect that the brain interprets compounds in the ancient essential oil blend as a signal to prevent sensitive nose nerves from overreacting to environmental irritants. To do: Dab a drop of each oil onto a cotton ball and inhale for five minutes
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.