When it comes to snoring, most people take a very “Western” (medical/scientific) approach. We try to monitor our own snoring to see if it’s a problem (apps can help with this; so can an annoyed, elbowing partner). Then we visit the doctor, perhaps request a sleep study and ask what we can do to help alleviate the condition (a chin strap or mouth guard, a CPAP device, surgery to correct polyps, medications to alleviate allergies or whatever is recommended by our doctor).
These efforts can prove highly useful for many snorers. But there’s an increasing faction that’s taking a more natural approach. This can mean something as simple as changing sleep position and the temperature and humidity of the room. Or it could mean natural constituents, like herbs.
At the forefront of this movement is a class of herbals called essential oils.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils aren’t new. You’ve almost certainly heard of them (and perhaps use them on occasion for various reasons). Indeed, the use of essential oils goes back thousands of years, as far as written records and archaeological evidence can tell.
In a nutshell: an essential oil is simply a hydrophobic liquid (generally, as the name implies, an oil) containing the volatile compounds of plants. It is “the essence of” the plant.
Essential oils have been used traditionally as fragrances, soothing agents, and medicines. They fell somewhat out of use, particularly in Western cultures, in the early to mid 20th century as modern medicine made leaps and came into common usage; then herbal remedies began to make a comeback. Today, people looking to have a more self-care approach to health and seeking natural rather than drug or physical therapies (such as devices) are increasingly turning to essential oils for a variety of ills, as well as simply to enhance, fragrance and beautify their homes.
Are All Essential Oils Safe?
No. Make sure you check contraindications for the oil you intend to use. Not every plant is “safe” (hemlock, anyone? Though we’ve never actually heard of hemlock being used in an essential oil base) and some appear to be side effects-free but only under certain conditions (for example, some reports show that rosemary may bring on or increase contractions during pregnancy, and nutmeg may react with some drugs and produce a hallucinogenic-like response, according to some users).
With that said, overall, commonly-used essential oils tend to produce less dramatic effects than certain drug or surgical therapies. Do your research before using any essential oil.
Strength and Dosage
You do assume a certain risk in utilizing an essential oil, as these are not regulated by the FDA and therefore may be stronger or weaker than you’re expecting, or even than the label indicates.
We recommend that you start out with the lowest recommended dose, see how you tolerate it and what effects it has, and then increase from there.
Essential Oils for Snoring
Most essential oils that are used for snoring are chosen due to relaxant properties. There are easily a dozen commonly available preparations that fit this bill, but the most common we’ve seen for snoring are:
- tea tree
- cedar wood
If you suffer from allergies or clogged nasal passages, you may wish to research essential oils for those purposes as well.
Precautions to Take
As stated above, just because an item is natural doesn’t mean it’s harmless under all conditions. Take the following precautions when using essential oils:
- Obtain your essential oils from a reputable source (or make your own).
- When using essential oils, start SLOWLY. Add only ONE essential oil at a time and use the lowest dosage until you know how your body will react to the oil.
- Check contraindications between your essential oil and any medications you’re currently taking.
- Check contraindications among different essential oils (some conflict).
- Some plants may cause skin sensitivity. Dab a tiny amount on your inner elbow and wait 48 hours before adding the oil to your regimen.
- NEVER add ANY therapeutic product – including herbs or oils – to your regimen without asking your doctor first if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have a pre-existing condition, such as a heart condition, high blood pressure or prior stroke; allergies, skin sensitivities or a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis; asthma; intestinal or stomach issues; or any condition your doctor is monitoring.