Herbal tea is a commonly suggested natural home remedy for ailments like sinus congestion and sore throats. This type of remedy can improve the symptoms associated with sinus congestion but there is minimal evidence that suggests it can actually cure the underlying cause of the discomfort. Consult a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy. Some herbs used in teas can interact with other medications or supplements.
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Sinus congestion causes a stuffy sensation in the nose and surrounding sinus cavities. MedlinePlus explains that congestion isn't actually due to a build-up of mucus in the nasal passages, but instead occurs when the lining of the nose becomes inflamed and swollen. Mucus production can worsen the effects of the swollen nasal passages. Common causes of nasal congestion include a cold, sinus infection, allergies and the flu.
Function of Herbal Tea
Making herbal tea and drinking it can actually improve sinus congestion in a number of ways. The boiling water used to make the tea emits steam, which can be inhaled to reduce nasal congestion, states the University of Maryland Medical Center. Sipping the tea causes the individual to inhale the vapors given off by the herbs, which may soothe irritated nasal passages. Drinking warm fluids can thin mucus and improve nasal drainage as well.
Herbal teas come in a wide variety. Some of the more commonly recommended herbs for nasal congestion include eucalyptus, peppermint, sage, blackberry and chamomile, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other herbs, such as marshmallow or licorice root, can be steeped in hot water and sipped but only under the advice of a qualified health care professional because an overdose or drug interaction could cause adverse effects.
Adding certain ingredients to the herbal tea may make it more pleasant to drink and may improve the tea's efficacy in treating the symptoms associated with sinus congestion. Honey is a natural cough suppressant, according to MayoClinic.com, and can be added to herbal teas to sweeten them. Fresh lemon or lemon juice added to the tea can, due to its acidity, thin thick mucus, making it easier to swallow or cough up.
Alternative Uses of the Herbs
Many of the herbs commonly used in teas for congestion can be placed in other mixtures to create a different type of congestion remedy. For example, eucalyptus leaves can be boiled to emit vapors into the air to produce the same calming effect as eucalyptus tea. Some essential oils, including peppermint or eucalyptus, can be placed into a running shower to produce soothing vapors. Many similar herbs are found in chest rubs or ointments that can be placed under the nose to improve breathing constricted by congestion. Consult a healthcare professional for advice on how to use specific forms of the herbs. Placing certain concentrations of essential oils directly on the skin can cause mild to severe irritation. Some herbs cannot be consumed, while others require strict adherence to preparation procedures or dose sizes.