Effective decongestant alternatives to phenylephrine: Expert recommendations I NBC News

Opinion Article

The Problems with Phenylephrine and Alternatives for Decongestion

The common cold is one of the most frequent illnesses faced by individuals around the world, affecting not only the nose and throat but also the entire respiratory system. One of the most prevalent symptoms of the common cold is nasal congestion, which is the blockage of the nasal passages due to inflammation of the blood vessels. People often turn to over-the-counter decongestants to alleviate their congestion. However, recent studies show that phenylephrine, one of the active ingredients in many decongestant medications, may not effectively relieve nasal congestion.

The Problems with Phenylephrine

Recent research has shown that phenylephrine, the most common substitute for pseudoephedrine, may not be as effective as originally thought. This new data has indicated that phenylephrine may not be effective at reducing nasal congestion, and has received criticisms for having inadequate efficacy levels. With limited alternatives to phenylephrine, many individuals are left without proper relief from their symptoms. Additionally, phenylephrine shares adverse side effects with other decongestants, such as dizziness, headaches, nausea, and difficulty sleeping, making it a less than ideal option for congestion relief.

Natural Remedies for Decongestion

If phenylephrine is not an effective option for nasal decongestion, are there any natural remedies to relieve congestion? There are several alternatives available to those looking for a more natural approach to decongestion. The following natural remedies have all proven to be effective at relieving nasal congestion:

1. Steam Inhalation

Steam inhalation is an easy and effective way to reduce nasal congestion. Fill a clean bowl with boiling water and add a few drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus oil. Cover your head with a towel, lean over the bowl, and inhale the steam for five to ten minutes. This practice can help to loosen congestion by moisturizing the nasal cavity

2. Saline Solution

Rinsing your nasal passages with a saline solution can help to reduce inflammation and clear out mucus from the nasal cavity. You can buy pre-made saline solutions, or you can create your own by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water.

3. Exercise

Exercise is a proven effective remedy for nasal congestion. Exercise stimulates the body to take in more oxygen, which can help to relieve congestion. Even simple activities such as walking and yoga can help to reduce congestion.

4. Ginger

Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to reduce congestion. Add sliced ginger to boiling water and let it steep for around 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, then drink it for quick relief.

5. Neti Pot

A neti pot is a small pot used to flush mucus and debris from the nasal passages. Fill the pot with saline solution, lean over a sink, and pour the solution into one nostril while tilting your head to the side. The solution will flow through your nasal cavity and out the other nostril, flushing out congestion-causing mucus.

6. Humidifiers

Add moisture to the air with a humidifier or vaporizer, which will help to loosen congestion. Humidifiers can be especially beneficial in dry climates or during winter months when indoor heating may cause dry air.

7. Liquids

Staying hydrated with fluids helps to keep the mucous membranes moist, which can help to reduce congestion. Drinking warm liquids like tea, broth, and soup can also provide relief by warming the airways.


With recent evidence against phenylephrine, it is clear that seeking alternative resources for nasal congestion relief may be the best option. Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to find effective natural remedies for decongestion, which come without the harmful side effects that can accompany traditional medications. With a little bit of research, and a willingness to try new things, individuals can find relief and stay healthy even when suffering from a cold.

Natural Remedies for Decongestion-

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