Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. They’re made by extracting natural chemicals from certain plants. These chemicals give plants their odors and flavors, so extracting them is like capturing the essence of the plant.
True essential oils are extracted naturally, either by steaming or crushing various parts of the plant. Essential oils are often made from tree bark, roots, flowers, leaves, and herbs.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to improve your physical, mental, or spiritual health. In aromatherapy, essential oils are typically inhaled or diluted and applied to the skin. Do not swallow essential oils.
Clinical trials have shown that essential oils can reduce nausea and anxiety in people with cancer. Other studies have pointed to the antibacterial effects of topically applied essential oils.
Although science doesn’t currently have the evidence to support it, many people have long sworn by the effects of essential oils for snoring.
Studies show that over 50 percent of adults snore at least occasionally and 30 percent snore habitually. Snoring can be more than an inconvenience. Snoring can lead to insomnia and issues with a sleeping partner. It can also be an indicator of a serious condition called sleep apnea.
The data on using essential oils for snoring is limited. A preliminary clinical trial sponsored by the makers of one essential oil throat spray showed that their particular blend of essential oils can effectively reduce snoring in some people. However, it’s not clear why or how these oils work to reduce snoring.
Essential oils for snoring
Many essential oils are touted for treating snoring and improving sleep.
Experts in the field of aromatherapy massage, rubbing thyme oil on your feet at night before sleeping can reduce snoring.
Peppermint oil has purifying effects that help clear the sinuses and make it easier to breath. If your snoring gets worse when you’re stuffed up, inhaling peppermint oil may help.
Early research shows that eucalyptus can help break up the mucus in your respiratory system, including your sinuses and the back of your throat.
People use eucalyptus oil to relieve the symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.
Cedarwood has a woody smell that can help reduce anxiety and relax muscles. It may help you enter a state of relaxation helpful to sleep.
The fresh citrus scent of lemon oil has been shown to improve mood. It may help by reducing anxiety and promoting feelings of well-being.
Clove is an herb with a variety of medicinal uses. Clove oil is used to loosen phlegm in the chest. It may help break up phlegm that moves to the back of your throat when you lie down to sleep.
An essential oil derived from pine needles, pine oil has both antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Aromatherapy experts also use it to massage stressed muscles and sore joints. Massage therapy is an effective insomnia treatment.
Fennel may have some anti-inflammatory properties. Some people can use it to reduce inflammation in their nose and throat and improve the flow of air through their nasal passageways.
Sage oils have long been used for their medicinal value. Sage oil may be effective against respiratory infections, such as the common cold. It might also help improve your circulation.
Drinking alcohol is actually a common cause of snoring. Citronella oil has detoxifying properties that may help you urinate and sweat out toxins.
Lavender is the most commonly used oil for the treatment of insomnia. It promotes relaxation and may trigger the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. It’s often helpful for the partners of people who snore, too.
Marjoram has expectorant properties that may help break up some of the mucus obstructing your breathing during the night.
Valerian root has powerful sedative effects, so it’s commonly used in natural sleeping supplements.
Valerian oil may help promote a restful night’s sleep for you, with limited position changes, or serve as a sleep aid for your partner.
Essential oils for sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which your breathing constantly stops and starts while you’re sleeping. These episodes are typically so quick that you don’t notice them, although you may have as many as 30 per hour.
The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, happens when the muscles in your throat relax too much. When this happens, your airways narrow and you’re unable to get a good breath.
A less common type of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, happens when your brain has trouble signaling your breathing muscles.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
• loud snoring
• episodes of stopped breathing witnessed by your sleep partner
• suddenly waking up with gasping, snorting, or shortness of breath
• excessive sleepiness after a full night’s sleep
• trouble staying asleep
Sleep apnea is caused by physical obstructions in your airway or by neurological problems. Essential oils are unlikely to help improve these problems, however, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or losing weight can make a big difference.
Quitting smoking can be very difficult. Visit a doctor to create a smoking cessation plan that’s right for you.
How to use essential oils to treat snoring
There are several ways to use essential oils for snoring:
• diffuse into the air and breath in
• add diluted oil to a hot bath
• add a few drops of oil to a cup of water and gargle for 30 to 60 seconds
• add essential oil to a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil and massage into your skin
• add a few drops of diluted essential oil to the bottoms of your feet
Essential oils should always be diluted in a carrier oil. The typical recipe is 4 to 6 drops per ounce of sweet almond, coconut, or another oil.
Always read the labels on essential oils and follow their directions. Keep essential oils away from your eyes.
Some essential oils are toxic. Never swallow them.
If you’re on medications or have preexisting conditions, talk to your doctor before using essential oils in any way.