Sinus headache pain and sinus congestion are common and uncomfortable ailments that you have likely experienced. Your sinuses are air-filled spaces present on both sides of the face behind the bones of the forehead, cheeks, eye and nasal passages. These mucous-lined sacs can become infected by bacterial, viral or fungal invaders. Tea tree oil contains antimicrobial properties. Steaming the nasal passageways and throat with this essential oil helps to infuse the sinuses with anti-viral and anti-bacterial compounds. However, a sinus infection can be serious and may require antibiotics; do not self-treat with tea tree oil alone without the advise of your doctor.
You are more susceptible to a sinus infection when your nasal passages are blocked, causing mucous build-up in the sinuses, or when the mucous is thickened due to irritation, a cold or an allergic reaction. Sinus infections include symptoms such as headache, fever, nasal blockage and fatigue. The University of Mississippi lists treatment to include nasal decongestants, anti-allergy medications, antibiotics and pain medications, depending on the severity of the infection. Tea tree oil and other essential oils have been traditionally used; however, these remedies are not medically proven to effectively treat a sinus infection.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is also called Melaleuca oil and has been traditonally used for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This essential oil is obtained by steaming the leaves of the tea tree plant, a native of the Australian coast. The American Cancer Society notes that tea tree oil is added to creams, cleansers, soaps and cosmetics that are applied topically to treat acne and other skin ailments. Pure oil is added to water and used in a vaporizer and diffused to help ease respiratory and sinus infections. However, tea tree oil can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes of the nose and throat; use only as directed.
The Mayo Clinic notes that tea tree oil contains antiseptic properties and was used to cleanse skin wounds and surgical instruments before the discovery of antibiotics. It is also used to treat skin infections, bug bites, eczema, psoriasis, acne, fungal nail infections, cuts and burn injuries. Inhaling tea tree oil may help ease respiratory, throat, nasal and sinus congestion and infections.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine warns that tea tree oil should not directly be used internally or swallowed, as it contains many toxic chemicals. Applying this oil to the skin may also cause an allergic reaction in some cases. There is not a recommended dosage for tree tea oil, as it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration; however, the Mayo Clinic advises that tea tree oil products should not be used for longer than one month at a time.
Noreen Kassem is a hospital doctor and a medical writer. Her articles have been featured in "Women's Health," "Nutrition News," "Check Up" and "Alive Magazine." Kassem also covers travel, books, fitness, nutrition, cooking and green living.