Congestion from allergies, colds, or other respiratory conditions presents discomfort and inconvenience. 

Despite the availability of numerous remedies, natural alternatives such as mānuka oil have garnered attention for their purported ability to alleviate congestion.


Understanding Congestion

Congestion, or stuffy nose or rhinitis, refers to the obstruction or constriction of the airways, resulting in breathing difficulties, nasal congestion, and heaviness in the chest or sinuses. 

Nasal congestion occurs when irritants affect the tissues lining the interior of the nose. This irritation triggers a series of responses, including inflammation, swelling, and increased mucus production, resulting in difficulty breathing through the nose. If left unaddressed, nasal congestion can lead to conditions such as sinusitis, nasal polyps, or middle ear infections.


Causes of Congestion

Congestion may arise from triggers such as:

  • Environmental Factors: Pollution, smoke, and various environmental pollutants have the potential to irritate the airways, consequently leading to congestion.
  • Allergies: Sensitivity to allergens such as dust, pollen, mould, or animal dander can provoke congestion in affected individuals.
  • Respiratory Infections: Viral or bacterial infections, including the common cold, influenza, or sinusitis, frequently manifest congestion as a symptomatic response.


Traditional Remedies for Congestion

Before modern medicine, individuals often turned to natural remedies to relieve congestion. These traditional approaches encompassed practises such as steam inhalation infused with herbs such as eucalyptus or peppermint, consumption of hot teas blended with honey and lemon, and saline nasal rinses.


What is Mānuka Oil?

manuka plant up close shot

Mānuka oil is an essential oil derived from the leaves and small branches of the mānuka tree (scientifically known as Leptospermum scoparium), native to New Zealand. It is renowned for its potent antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

When English explorer Captain Cook ventured to New Zealand in 1769, he made note of the mānuka plant, referring to it as a “tea plant,” which led to its local designation as the tea tree. Captain Cook utilised the leaves as a substitute for traditional tea to mitigate the effects of scurvy among his crew. Despite this early observation, scientific documentation remained scarce over the subsequent two centuries.

The Maori people, indigenous settlers of New Zealand, identified the various therapeutic uses of the mānuka plant centuries ago. 

Today, modern science validated these uses, confirming the legitimacy of mānuka essential oil’s medicinal properties through rigorous scientific analysis and identification of active compounds.


Is Mānuka Oil the Same as Tea Tree Oil?

While it is occasionally labelled as a tea tree, it’s important to clarify that mānuka and tea tree are distinct plants.

Mānuka oil is derived from different parts of the Leptospermum scoparium plant, whereas tea tree oil exclusively originates from the leaves of the Melaleuca tree.

Learn more about mānuka oil vs tea tree oil here.


Mānuka Oil Benefits for Congestion

Mānuka oil contains high levels of triketones, specifically leptospermone, which exhibit strong antimicrobial effects. 

The antimicrobial properties of mānuka oil make it an excellent choice for combating respiratory infections that cause congestion. Additionally, it possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease breathing and alleviate discomfort associated with congestion. 


How to Use Mānuka Oil for Congestion Relief

  1. Steam Inhalation: Add a few drops of mānuka oil to hot water and inhale the steam to clear nasal passages.
  2. Steam Bath: Mix mānuka oil directly into the water in the steam generator or use a diffuser suitable for this purpose. Alternatively, a small bowl or cup can be placed near the steam outlet, adding a few drops of mānuka oil before showering to alleviate a blocked nose or soothe a sore throat.
  3. Chest Rub: Dilute mānuka oil with a carrier oil like coconut or almond oil and massage onto the chest and throat.
  4. Diffusion: Use a diffuser to disperse mānuka oil into the air, creating a soothing atmosphere.
  5. Topical Application: Apply diluted mānuka oil to pulse points or under the nose for quick relief.


Precautions and Considerations

While generally safe for topical use, mānuka oil can cause skin irritation in some individuals, especially if undiluted. It is advisable to perform a patch test before applying it to larger areas of the skin. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult with a healthcare professional before using mānuka oil.

Lastly, mānuka oil is a potent oil that should never be ingested.


Choosing the Right Mānuka Oil

When purchasing mānuka oil, look for pure and organic products, preferably sourced from reputable suppliers. Check the concentration of active ingredients and opt for higher-grade oils for maximum efficacy.

Learn more about MBTK grading here. 

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