Wellness Rx Report on Chronic Sinusitis
Welcome to the “Wellness Rx Program for Managing Chronic Sinusitis”
I am especially delighted to present this program to you for a very personal reason – I have been a lifelong sinusitis sufferer and have been through the rounds of drugs and surgery. Nothing helped for very long and often didn't help at all. You may have had the same disappointment.
I finally tried a more holistic approach. I stopped buffeting my system with medications and started looking at the factors in my life such as environment, diet and lifestyle that could be contributing to my condition. I began to keep a careful record of what I ate, the weather patterns and even if there was a new carpet smell in the office. I added to the list as new things occurred to me. Before long, patterns began to emerge. I began to identify the triggers to my sinus attacks that I could avoid. At the same time, I sought for more information, began using a saline douche daily, worked hard to stay hydrated, increased my daily intake of strong immune boosters with antiviral properties (i.e. Elderberry tonic & Mushrooms Extract Tinctures) and understood how to use other intervention products and techniques like colloidal silver, essential oils, acupuncture and acupressure.
I put everything I had learned together-and, it worked! I found I could control my sinusitis with prevention and a holistic approach, not with the usual battery of medications. I discovered that my condition was a result of a combination of factors that involved my mind, body and even my spirit. This simple idea was a revelation to me, and the basis for the program.
Yours for better health,
Edward A. Ullmann, RPh, MPA
The goal of our program is to increase one’s understanding of Chronic Sinusitis and to assist with the development of common-sense techniques for:
- Improving daily well-being
- Reducing the incidence of acute infections
- Reducing time away from work, family or friends
- Reducing the amount of health care dollars spent on the maintenance of this chronic condition
That’s why my sinusitis program works. I can personally attest to that and you might even call me living, breathing proof. This program can help you too. So, let’s get started.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Background Information……………………………………………………………………………………….pg. 2-3
Medical Model………………………………………………………………………………………………...pg. 4-6
Coming Down Sick…………………………………………………………………………..pg. 10
An estimated 37 million Americans (1 out of every 7 of us) suffer from sinus problems. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 28.9 million Americans or 11.6% were diagnosed with sinusitis in 2019. Sinus infections were responsible for 16 million doctor visits and $150 million annually spent on prescription medications (plus the dollars spent on over-the-counter (OTC) & natural products).
It is one of the most common complaints of people seeing a doctor and is the number one complaint in many areas with cold, damp climates.
Chronic Sinusitis is hard to treat because the causes can vary so widely. Typical causes can be bacterial, fungal or viral infection, allergy, anatomic defects, rapid changes in temperature or air pollution. Atypical causes can be a weakened immune system or the taking of a new drug.
Chronic Sinusitis often makes people feel miserable in their daily lives. It impacts one’s relationship with others, results in lost time from work and costs money.
WHAT IS SINUSITIS?
Sinusitis is an inflammation/infection of the bony, air-filled sinus cavities in the face located around the nose and eyes. Hearty sinuses are lined with a thin layer of mucus that trap dust, germs and other air particles. Ideally, tiny hair-like cilia sweep mucus and anything trapped in it out of the sinuses, down the back of the throat, and into the stomach. If the mucus-producing lining of the sinus becomes inflamed and swollen as the symptom of a cold, flu or hay fever, the drainage may be blocked. This condition can trap mucus and foreign matter, further increasing mucus production and membrane swelling. When infection-fighting white blood cells respond, nasal congestion can become even more acute, risking damage to the hair like cilia that line the sinuses. When the sinuses become inflamed and/or infected, the nasal mucosa swells and thickens. The mucus in the sinus cavities thickens and often becomes yellow or greenish. Because the openings from the nose into the sinuses are very narrow, they quickly become blocked trapping the mucus inside the sinus cavity. Trapped mucus or mucus plugs cause sinus pressure and can easily become infected leading to acute sinusitis. Sinuses that are clogged for a long time seem to invite infection. Most treatment approaches are aimed at relieving pain by restoring drainage.
Most cases of sinusitis affect the frontal and/or maxillary sinuses, but any or all of the sinuses may be involved, and each individual tends to have problems with a particular set of sinuses. This may be the case if a drainage tube carrying mucus from a sinus cavity to the throat is narrower than normal.
Symptoms of sinusitis may include:
- Nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing through clogged nasal passages
- Pressure/pain behind the eyes and nose
- Nasal discharge and/or postnasal drip
- Constant coughing or sneezing
- Facial swelling especially if a maxillary sinus cavity is inflected
- Fever (usually low-grade, but higher in some cases)
- Sore throat
- Loss of sense of smell or foul odor in the nose or bad breath
- Enhanced sensitivity to loud noises
- Tiredness & irritability
- Facial pain (swelling around the eyes is a serious sign of trouble & one should call their doctor)
- Brain fog or loss of concentration
- Headache or even a toothache (upper rear teeth which are close to the maxillary sinuses)
- Hearing loss or ringing in the ears caused by fluid build-up in the middle ear
According to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic, chronic sinusitis can also be the cause of sleep apnea and is often part of a cluster of health problems. When the sinuses no longer cleanse the air properly, inflammation of the large and medium airways can result. This can lead to pharyngitis, laryngitis or bronchitis, causing congestion, coughing and shortness of breath. Inflammation of the small airways can cause asthma. Infectious mucus dripping down the back of the throat may inflame the stomach, causing acid to back up into the esophagus leading to GERD or heartburn.
Typically, in the medical model, the physician or mid-level health professional will examine the patient and prescribe all or some of the following medications for treatment of acute sinusitis or control of chronic sinusitis:
- Oral and/or nasal spray or drop decongestant to relieve congestion
- Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine to control allergy attacks
- Allergy shots to increase tolerance to allergy-causing substances
- Nasal saline spray and/or cool mist humidifier for maintenance
- Mucus-thinning medication (guaifenesin with or without a cough suppressant)
- Steroid or nonsteroidal nasal spray to reduce the swelling of the mucosa and open the nasal passages
- Emergency inhaler (albuterol) and/or steroid medication to help with breathing
- Antibiotic therapy if the sinuses have become infected
In general, acute sinusitis can last for up to 4 weeks while chronic sinusitis can last for up to 12 weeks and often it lingers for a lifetime.
The challenge for the health professional is the decision to prescribe an antibiotic. For unless the nose is swabbed and mucus collected and cultured in a laboratory to reveal if a type of bacteria is causing the infection, it is impossible to determine if the cause of the sinusitis is bacterial in nature. Antibiotics are not effective against viral or fungal infections and less than 20% of sinus infections turn out to be bacterial. According to new guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the percentage may be even less 2 % and the inappropriate use of antibiotics can spur the development of drug-resistant superbugs.
Consequently, the health provider is often reluctant to prescribe an antibiotic to reduce the risk of side effects and the development of future antibiotic resistant infections.
In general, symptom duration & complaints will be the key source to help determine what is causing the infection.
Viral infections often start to improve in 5 to 7 days. Fungal or mold induced infections may take longer and have a thicker mucus discharge.
According to the Mayo Clinic, acute sinusitis is often accompanied by a fever where a cough that is worse at night or in the morning is often associated with chronic sinusitis.
If after 5 to 7 days a patient reports that symptoms are getting worse or the infection remains after 10 days, there is a higher probability that antibiotic therapy will be prescribed (viral sinus infections can develop into a bacteria infection). Antibiotic therapy may also be prescribed early if a patient is prone to getting bronchitis or pneumonia.
If the symptoms of headache, pressure and difficulty breathing persist, the doctor may order a CT (CAT), MRI scan or an Endoscopy (Rhinoscopy) of the sinuses to determine the extent of the disease. An Endoscopy is a flexible tube with a camera on its end to see inside the nose and sinuses.
If extensive disease is present, an examination will be made to ensure that there are no structural problems that need to be corrected (small growths in the nose called polyps), injury of the nasal bones (deviated septum) or dental problems (TMJ syndrome). For complicated conditions, Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
(FESS) may be recommended. FESS is often an outpatient surgery that involves opening passages and removing small growths and other blockages to promote free movement of air and drainage of mucus.
The prestigious medical journal “Lancet” published a ground-breaking study on sinusitis that concluded that the value of antibiotics in acute sinusitis is uncertain.
In the study, adult patients with suspected acute sinusitis were referred by their providers for radiographs of the sinus area. Those patients who showed sinus abnormalities were treated with the antibiotic amoxicillin (for 7 days) or with a placebo (a “fake” drug with no medicinal power). Individual patients were assessed after one week and again after two weeks, and any relapses or complications were recorded for one year. The findings were surprising. After two weeks, sinusitis symptoms had improved substantially or disappeared completely in 83% of the patients taking the antibiotic amoxicillin and in 77% of the patients taking the placebo. The incidence of relapse was 21% for those taking amoxicillin and 17% for those taking the placebo.
Most surprisingly, amoxicillin did not alter the clinical course of the sinusitis, nor did it reduce the frequency of relapses during the one-year follow-up period. Side effects were recorded in 28% of the patients taking amoxicillin and 9% of the patients taking the placebo.
The medical interpretation of this study is that antibiotic use-such as amoxicillin- did not improve sinusitis in adult patients. Rather, the antibiotic presented side effects to a large number of patients. While the doctors conducting this study admit that it is uncertain whether antibiotics can be helpful for severe sinusitis, it is most certain that antibiotics are unnecessary for acute symptoms.
We are all living in a high-paced world today and trying to maintain compliance to a treatment plan for limiting the impact of chronic sinusitis can be difficult. Compliance will take time as you experiment with different daily habits, diets, environment factors, natural products and traditional and natural techniques. BE PATIENT.
Let’s start with the importance of remaining hydrated (try for 4 pints of clean water daily). Place glasses of water in different rooms of the house, drink one pint of water on the way to work, another on the way home, etc. Bottom line: 70% of mucus is water. Dehydration leads to a thick mucus. Thick mucus leads to problems. Proper hydration keeps nasal discharge thin.
NASAL IRRIGATION , EXERCISE & STEAM SHOWER
Start the day with a Neti pot rinse (nasal douche), an exercise program & hot shower. A Neti pot rinse helps to clean sinuses cavities and remove unwanted mucus. For prevention, rinse only once in the morning so that the cilia within the nasal cavity are not compromised as a natural mucus remover. Rinse twice a day if you have an active infection. Neti pot rinses can be particularly effective in removing mucus plugs that are preventing drainage.
Neti pots are teapot-like in nature made either of porcelain or plastic. Neti pots must be kept clean and most pots are dishwasher friendly. It’s important to only use clean water in a Neti pot to prevent the introduction of deadly germs. It’s most important to use reverse-osmosis (R/O) systems for homes with well water or municipal water systems that are suspicious. Alternatively, you can use distilled water or boil water and store for weekly usage. Use warm water for rinsing and either add some type of sea salt or mineral salt alone or with the addition of sodium bicarbonate. Pre-made packages are easily available for purchase. Generally about a 1/3 of a teaspoonful of sea salt per Neti pot rinse will provide relief while preventing nasal burning. Essential oils such as the old Alkalol formula or a product from a company called Baraka can also be added to the Neti Pot rinse to aid with nasal drainage. Be patient when first using a Neti pot because it takes time to perfect the rinse procedure.
A daily exercise program will increase one’s circulation to help clear sinus pressure and allow for easier breathing. Yoga, Tai-Chi or Chi-Gong can be especially helpful for sinus sufferers. A Yoga exercise, for example, where one stands on their head against the wall can sometimes effectively use gravity to push out mucus.
A hot shower or steam inhalation soothes and moistens mucus membranes which loosens mucus and helps open nasal passages.
Watch your diet carefully. Increase usage of raw foods and fresh vegetable & fruit juices. Increase consumption of hot liquids such as soups & herbal teas. Spice-up meals with pepper, garlic, ginger & horseradish. Know what foods, drugs or gastric intakes trigger your allergies and/or increase mucus production. Be especially aware of wheat and daily products that can produce allergic sinusitis. Limit sugar intake (i.e. chocolate) and caffeine consumption and be aware of excessive alcohol use especially red wine. Consider periodic body cleansing fasts.
Review our Addendum Section for recommended Nutraceutical (nutrient) supplements.
Clean the air. Without question, the number one trigger of chronic sinusitis is the air we breathe especially within our homes. Environmental irritants or antigens like air pollution, cigarette smoke, dust, mold, wood burning stoves, chemical odors, hot air heating or pet dander can trigger chronic sinusitis in minutes.
Watch closely for rooms with poor air ventilation, very dry air, dampness (i.e. mold) or rapid temperature changes. Mitigate these rooms with powerful air filters that also kill airborne mold, clean any mold infected area with bleach, add cool mist humidification and regular house cleaning.
Many leading sinus doctors now believe that the number one cause of chronic sinus infections is the daily inhalation or breathing of up to 40 different types of infectious fungus in the air. The harmful fungi hide in our throats , where they infect the mucus. A recent study of mucus cultures from people with sinus infections showed that 96% had some level of fungus in their mucus.
Use Over-the-Counter (OTC) , NATURAL Products & Preventative Techniques Wisely.
One of the most important OTC products to help prevent chronic sinusitis is the liberal use of a nasal saline spray. Saline sprays are totally safe to use especially with children and should be used throughout the day to keep nasal membranes moist. Moist nasal membranes make it harder for germs to take hold and this helps to improve nasal congestion. Saline sprays should be used before triggering events such as visiting a friend with pets, at the beginning of symptoms or when one is traveling by plane. Air travel is especially hostile territory for chronic sinus sufferers because of the changes in air pressure & the exposure to dirty recycling air. It is recommended that air travelers start taking the anti-viral & immune booster Elderberry Tonic the day before the trip, one teaspoonful every 4 hours with 500 mg. of Vitamin C during the trip and then one teaspoonful with Vitamin C every 4 hours a day or two after the trip. To help prevent blockage of the sinuses and potential ear pain, it is recommended that one liberally use a saline spray throughout the trip and take a nasal decongestant product like immediate or time-released Sudafed (pseudo-ephedrine) an hour before the trip, once during the fright & once after the flight.
Antihistamines, Steroid Sprays, Decongestants & Expectorants
Traditional OTC antihistamine products can be helpful in treating upper respiratory allergies and reducing the release of mucus due to exposure to indoor and outdoor antigens. The products can also provide temporary relief of symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and itching of the nose or throat. The most commonly used products are Loratadine 10mg tablets & liquid (Claritan), Cetirizine 10mg. tablets & liquid (Zyrtec), Levocetirizine 5mg tablets & liquid (Xyzal), and Fexofenadine 60mg (12 hours) & 180mg (24 hours) tablets (Allegra). Neither of these products produce drowsiness for most patients. The common antihistamine Diphenhydramine 25mg capsules & liquid (Benadryl) can also be used, but it does produce drowsiness. An antihistamine nasal spray called Azelastine (0.1% & 0.15%) is also available by prescription.
On the natural medicine side, the number one product that we have found for immune support and nasal health is a German product called Sinupret. The all herbal formula contains Sorrel herb, Elder flower, Primula Flower, Verbena herb, & Gentian Root. The product comes in tablet form and as a syrup for kids (over 2 years of age). The number one essential oil that we have found for cold/allergies/chronic sinus congestion is a product from a California-based company called Baraka. The blended formula includes rosemary verbenone, eucalyptus dives, spike lavender, green myrtle, inula, and peppermint oils. We also have found a product called Sinus Blaster from Integral Health Apothecary that is a blend of 19 different ingredients that includes horseradish root, garlic bulb, goldenseal root, onion, & yarrow herb to be effective. Similasan offers a homeopathic product called Sinus Relief and Boiron offers two homeopathic products: Sinusalia for sinus relief & RhinAllergy for allergy relief. The herb Eyebright has also been successfully used to reduce stuffiness in the head. Please review our addendum section on Herbal Strategies for more information.
Two glucocorticoid products that are used for allergy symptom relief are Fluticasone Prop. 50mcg spray (Flonase) and Triamcinolone Acetonide Nasal Spray (Nasacort). Both products are generally used once a day and take a week or two to reach maximum effectiveness. A prescription only anticholinergic nasal solution used to reduce the amount of mucus produced in the nose is Ipratropium Bromide (0.03% & 0.06%)
To help with nasal and sinus congestion & sinus pressure the controlled OTC medication pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is an excellent nasal decongestant that is provided as both an immediate-release tablet (30 mg.) & extended-release product (12 or 24 hour tablets). Sudafed has stimulant properties so patients with uncontrolled blood pressure should avoid the medication and the immediate-release product should be used cautiously after 6PM, so there is no interference with sleep. Pseudoephedrine is also combined with the above mentioned antihistamines for sale as 12 and 24 hour extended-release products. The powerful 12 hour nasal spray oxymetazoline (Afrin) can be used for severe sinus congestion especially when breathing is impaired. However, caution is advised with the use of oxymetazoline since repeated use can lead to a condition called ‘nasal rebound’ in which the nasal membranes begin to swell & dilate in less than 12 hours resulting in a patient’s overuse of the spray. A final nasal decongestant is phenylephrine which is used in sinus products with acetaminophen. On the natural side, the herb Ephedra is an old decongestant with stimulant properties. Drink lots of water while taking Ephedra.
Expectorants are mucus thinners that help to reduce mucus production from allergies and help to improve nasal drainage. These products are especially helpful when the common cold, an allergy or a chronic sinusitis trigger produces extra mucus (i.e. post-nasal drip), which results in a throat tickle (irritation of the mucous membranes of the throat, trachea, & esophagus) and coughing attacks (often worse at night when you lie down). Coughing attacks can lead to rib pain, muscle pain or a failure to get adequate sleep. The most commonly used expectorant is guaifenesin (Robitussin or Mucinex) which comes in liquid, tablet, or time-released forms alone or combined with the cough suppressant dextromethorphan or a decongestant. On the natural side, the herb Lobelia is a powerful expectorant for the chest area & anise, fenugreek, marshmallow and red clover can help to loosen phlegm and clear congestion. Herbal teas with or without apple cider vinegar can also be helpful.
Preventative techniques such as steam inhalation, acupressure , and acupuncture can often provide immediate increase of nasal drainage and a resulting relief of sinus pressure. Allergy shots to increase one's tolerance to identified allergy-causing substances has also proven effective for many. For more information on these techniques, please visit our addendum section.
Daily Use of Supplements & Foods
The goal of daily supplements for chronic sinusitis is to help maintain a strong immune system (60% of our immune system resides in our gut or gastreo-intestinal (GI) system) to reduce body inflammation and to maintain antiviral natural products in our blood system. There is a reason why ten individuals in a room can breathe the same air and some will have strong natural defense systems (increased power of resistance to disease) to help prevent illness and others will get sick. A recent University of Miami study reported that 50 percent of chronic sinusitis patients were found to be suffering from immunologic disorders. For more information on supplements & foods, please visit our addendum section.
COMING DOWN SICK
As you begin to understand the power and importance of being your own personal investigator for maintaining your health and wellbeing, you will begin to increase your awareness of your body's response to the beginning signs of chronic sinusitis. You will begin to be aware of when you have exposed yourself to hostile environments, such as exposure to mold or dirty air. You will begin to feel your body starting to respond to trouble. You will intuitively know that it’s time to act. At this stage you must become aggressive.
First, use your Neti pot and keep the nasal passages soaked in saline spray. Then try to increase nasal drainage by drinking 3 glasses of water and taking a decongestant like Sudafed and/or place a few drops of essential oils formulated for nasal health inside your nostrils (Baraka rejuvenating oil is one excellent product). Taking an immune booster with antiviral properties like Elderberry Tonic every 4 hours with 500 mg. of Vitamin C is also highly recommended during this early exposure time.
Try to get a good night's sleep. Upon awakening, start with a Neti pot wash and observe how you are feeling. Note any changes in nasal discharge especially any color change, to golden, green, or brown. Are you starting to feel congested? Do you feel especially tired or sluggish? Are you experiencing any unusual brain fog? Throughout the day stay hydrated, use your saline spray, and observe if you are becoming irritable and losing patience. Are you having trouble concentrating or staying focused? Do you feel nauseous, have a headache, or are you experiencing bad breath? Do you have a fever or are you starting to have post-nasal drip or coughing? Do you have an enhanced sensitivity to loud noise?
If you continue to experience a nasal discharge that has changed color and/or several of the other symptoms mentioned above, it’s time to start taking a strong decongestant product such as Sinumet from Germany to your regiment and time to continue with an immune booster like Elderberry Tonic along with 500mg of Vitamin C every 4 hours. Adding a zinc supplement to your diet is also recommended.
It’s also time to consider adding to your regiment the SinuBlaster spray mentioned above or a high quality Colloidal Silver Nasal Spray like Silver Wings Vertical Spray (4 sprays into each nostril up to 5 times a day). Colloidal silver holds excellent potential to kill all germs especially bacterial, viruses, and fungus that are the prime causes of a sinus infection. Silver ions kill germs by interfering with the oxidation process of the organism. You should also start using your Netti Pot twice a day. Watch for the removal or any mucus plugs. Often if a mucus plug can be discharged from a congested sinus cavity the impacted sinus will start to drain and the sinus infection will start to go away.
If you continue to have the signs of a sinus infection after 3 days of following the above recommendations, it’s time to consider taking products with strong potential for killing sinus germs internally. We recommend natural products like Apple Fire Tonic which is a blended formula of organic apple cider vinegar infused with organic honey, red onion, garlic, ginger root, horseradish root turmeric & cayenne pepper. Take one teaspoonful of Apple Fire Tonic every 4 hours. You can also consider taking one teaspoon full of Colloidal Silver (500 PPM) twice a day (every 12 hours) for 7 days. Colloidal silver is for short term use only (less than 14 days) since silver is not an essential mineral of the body and is slow to leave the body. Silver was used as America’s number one natural antibiotic until penicillin was discovered in the 1940’s.
If symptoms continue after 7 days, especially if you continue to have a fever, pain/inflammation around the eyes, symptoms are getting worse , the nasal discharge has traveled to the lungs or you are dealing with a chronic disease like COPD, it’s highly advisable to see a doctor or mid-level health professional as soon as possible.
Acupressure uses the index finger (the finger you point with) to apply pressure or massage acupuncture points. This finger pressure may provide symptom relief during acute sinus attacks, may lengthen the intervals between attacks and may provide symptomatic relief. Start massage as soon as possible during the attack.
To do acupressure, you need to locate the point using the self-help material in this section. Apply as much pressure as you can comfortably stand, moving your finger in a counterclockwise motion for 10 to 30 times.
Finish with about six horizontal strokes across the point to disperse tension, relax the area and aid in circulation. Do not overstimulate point. If relief is not obtained, try again within 30 minutes. If this does not produce the desired result, acupuncture should be the next step in your holistic treatment.
ROOT OF THE EYEBROW (Acupressure Point: Bladder 2) Location: Above the inner corner of the eye where the eyebrow ends. This point drains sinuses and decongests the nose. Affects frontal sinuses.
MIDDLE OF THE EYEBROW (Acupressure Point: M-HN-6) Location: Directly above the pupil in the middle of the eyebrow. Feel for a notch, hollow or pain. This aids in reducing redness, welling, and sinus eye pain. Affects frontal sinuses.
WELCOMING FRAGRANCE (Acupressure Point: Large Intestine 19) Location: At the base of the nose where the outer part of the nostril meets the cheek. This point clears nose and aids in restoring sense of smell and affects maxillary sinus area.
BELOW THE PUPIL (Acupressure Point: Stomach 2) Location: On the cheekbone directly below the pupil of the eye. Feel for pain and/or sensitivity. This point brightens the eyes, clears vision, relaxes tension and relieves sinus pain in maxillary sinus area.
OUTER CORNER OF EYE (Acupressure Point: Gallbladder 1) Location: Place two fingers at the corner of the eye. Feel under the outer finger for a depression, sensitivity or pain. This point aids in relieving pain/pressure.
NOSE BRIDGE PINCH (Acupressure Point: M-HN-14) Location: Pinch the nose at the inner corner of the eyes. This point aids in clearing and draining the nose.
MOUNTAIN TOP (Acupressure Point: Large Intestine 4) Location: Area on top of the hand where flesh protrudes near the crease when the thumb and forefinger are pressed together. Feel for pain or sensitivity. This point is the master point for the face and head. It relieves most symptoms of sinusitis and eases tension and pain while clearing the eyes, nose and ears.
TOP OF WRIST (Acupressure Point: Lung 7) Location: On the wrist below the base of the thumb in line with the crease between the thumb and forefinger. Feel for depression in the bone. This point clears the nose, throat and ears and helps bring out phlegm and mucus.
TOP OF FOOT (Acupressure Point: Liver 3) Location: Two to three finger widths above the web of the big second toes. Feel for tender area. This point relieves headache and tension, suppresses dizziness and clears the head.
BELOW THE ANKLE BONE (Acupressure Point: Kidney 6) Location: One finger width directly below the large inside ankle bone. Feel for depression or pain. This point helps to treat (cools) inflammation in the throat, pharynx and upper respiratory passages.
Acupuncture is consistently effective when treating sinusitis. The results are fast and long-lasting.
Acupuncture is relatively painless. The needles are ultra- fine and are inserted from just under the skin to a half-inch. The needles are pre-sterilized, individually packaged and disposable so there is no danger of transmitting disease.
The number of acupuncture treatments needed can be dramatically reduced and their effectiveness increased when used in conjunction with self-help techniques.
Sinusitis is often secondary to chronic excessive mucus secretion (catarrh) of nasal/facial passages. Herbal strategies help reduce this mucus production by utilizing steam inhalations and circulatory stimulants in the form of food, teas and herbs.
Each herb contains properties which act on the body in one of more ways:
- Analgesic: Relieves pain
- Antibacterial/Antiseptic: Inhibits and kills bacteria
- Anti-Inflammatory: Reduces inflammation
- Antimicrobial: Destroys microbes
- Antiviral: Kills viruses
- Astringent: Contracts tissues and lessens mucus (nasal) discharges
- Diaphoretic: Increases perspiration
- Expectorant: Promotes mucus discharge from respiratory passages
- Stimulant: Assists the healing process by stimulating body function (energy)
Note: The effectiveness of both Acupressure and Steam Inhalation therapy may be notably increased when used together.
USING HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS:
When treating sinusitis, it is best to first differentiate between chronic and acute before discussing their alleviation and management. Chronic conditions are defined as being of long duration and persistent in their nature. Constant exposure to allergens in food and environment are one of the many causes of chronic sinusitis. Although ever present, chronic sinusitis is more like a shadow cast upon one’s vitality, robbing one of the quality of life that typifies robust health. Many accept their chronic conditions as an annoyance.
Acute conditions are sudden in onset and usually more virulent in their presence. A rhinovirus (#1 cause of the common cold) would be a good example of a symptom of acute sinusitis. It is appropriate to mention that chronic conditions will often have acute phases. The following protocols are for the acute symptoms of sinusitis only. Where appropriate, treatments for chronic symptoms are suggested but, as the causal factors can be many, a specific protocol would best be decided by a health professional regarding your circumstance. It must be remembered that sinusitis is a symptom with many different causes. If a cause is touched upon while alleviating a symptom the relief will be that much greater. Working with your health care professional to determine the cause is highly recommended.
Experience has shown that one of the best natural ways to deal with sudden onset stuffiness in the head is to take the herb Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis). It is available in an easy-to-take capsule form and dosages are usually suggested on the bottle. It is best to double the initial dosage to start and to then take the suggested amount three to four times daily. Eyebright appears to provide relief by stimulating the “third eye” chakra bringing energy to the area and easing the congestion. Relief is not as dramatic from eyebright as it is from nose sprays and over-the-counter decongestants such as Sudafed. What these products typically provide is the ability to breathe freely.
Another common herb to use for sinusitis is Ephedra, unlike Eyebright, which has no side effect, Ephedra often causes dehydration. It is especially important to drink plenty of water, especially when curing an illness while taking Ephedra. It should be noted that Ephedra is also a stimulant, while Eyebright is non-stimulating and can therefore be taken at bedtime, when clogged sinuses are most annoying. Overall, Ephedra has its place in the treatment regimen. It is a powerful herb and must be used cautiously with the full knowledge of its side effects. Echinacea & Elderberry Tonic ( anti-viral & strong immune boosters) are highly recommended for use when treating sinusitis associated with a virus or other infection. Remember, treating any symptom without identifying and alleviating the cause is not good holistic practice.
Other effective herbs:
*Anise, fenugreek, marshmallow, and red clover can help to loosen phlegm and clear congestion
*Bayberry is a decongestant and astringent
*Bromelain a compound found in pineapple has strong anti-inflammatory properties
*Garlic is immune boosting & has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial & expectorant properties
*Ginger Root can be crushed and applied as a poultice to the forehead & nose to help with drainage
*Ginkgo increases blood flow in and around the brain
*Goldenseal is a powerful broad-spectrum natural antibiotic used especially for acute sinus infections. Often
its combines with Bromelain
*Mullein reduces inflammation and soothes irritation
*Nettle is good for all types of allergies & respiratory problems
*Olive leaf extract has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
*Onions are immune boosting, rich in antioxidants and have antibacterial properties
*Oregano has antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial & anti-inflammatory properties
*Rose hips are a good source of vitamin C
THE USE OF ESSENTIAL OILS FOR TREATING SINUSITIS:
The concept behind the use of essential oils for sinusitis is based on locally treating the condition and possible infection. The essential oils to be used will address several symptoms and causes resulting in a synergistic effect. Whenever possible, use essential oils that are anti- inflammatory, vasoconstrictive, mucolytic, antiseptic and soothing. In cases where there is postnasal drip, use essential oils that are drying. Postnasal drip can often result in a bronchial infection. Using essential oils can help prevent and eliminate such infections.
A device called a diffuser is invaluable when using essential oils. This is not to be confused with an aroma lamp, which is also often referred to as a diffuser. Aroma lamps DO NOT allow for such inhalations and the heat required to release the scent. It is also damaging to the essential oils. Inhalation of whole undamaged essential oils is critical to effective use and treatment of sinusitis. The most common type of diffuser uses an electric pump, like that in home aquariums, and a glass nebulizer which releases a fine aerosol of the oils and allows the whole oil to be available for inhalation.
There are two methods of using the diffuser; Active and Passive:
- Passive: This method allows the diffused oils to permeate a small space, such as a bedroom, while breathing.
- Active: This method is preferable. The method used is to sit with your nose six to twelve inches from the diffuser and inhale the oil aerosol directly into the nostrils as it exits the nebulizer. Empty the lungs and then inhale slowly and gently, allowing the essential oils to fill the lungs and coat the nasal mucosa.
Almost all essential oils demonstrate some immune-stimulant response and are beneficial, especially where sinusitis is a symptom of an allergic response.
Another method is to inhale whole undamaged essential oils. Place five drops on a tissue or cloth and inhale directly. This is especially helpful if your sinusitis has acute flare-ups and immediate relief is sought. It also allows one to administer treatments throughout a busy day without having to resort to equipment setup. Carry your mixture in a dropper bottle and use as necessary (several times an hour may be necessary during an acute attack). Place the tissue or cloth in a shirt pocket to let the healing vapors be released continually, refreshing as needed.
The only time when extreme heat can be used without losing some of the therapeutic value of the essential oils is with Steam inhalations. Sinuses are aggravated when they are dry and steam by itself can be of enormous value to soothe dry, irritated sinus membranes. The addition of the appropriate essential oils to hot water immediately releases their therapeutic qualities.
Steam Inhalation Procedure: You will need a bowl, spoon, towel, and a mixed or single essential oil. Boil some water and sit with a towel draped around your shoulders. Pour the boiling water into the bowl. Let it cool for 10-20 seconds and put three to five drops of your essential oils in the spoon. Put the towel over your head and bowl creating a tent. Close your eyes (important) and stir the essential oils into the hot water. Breathe slowly and deeply. Repeat as necessary. An added side benefit for people who use this method over a period of time is an improved complexion.
COMMON ESSENTIAL OILS AND THEIR BENEFITS:
- Eucalyptus Oil: Analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral, balsamic, decongestant, deodorizer and mucolytic. It also helps dry up nasal drip.
- Peppermint Oil: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiphlogistic, antiviral, astringent, vasoconstrictor. It will “bite” you in a bath and is not recommended for use there.
- Pine Oil (non-white): Antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral and balsamic.
- Tea Tree Oil: Antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal and immuno-stimulant.
- Clove Oil: Highly antibacterial, antihistaminic, antiviral and analgesic. Use sparingly in steam inhalations and not in baths.
- German Chamomile Oil: Anti-inflammatory.
- Lavender Oil (preferably Spike Lavender or Lavandula Spica): Analgesic, antimicrobial & antiseptic
Note: The dropper bottles referred to are specially designed with insert “Pipettes” for measuring drops from the bottle. The pipettes fit into the neck of the bottle and will not dissolve or leak as the standard rubber-topped dropper bottles are prone to do. The cap of the bottles screws down over it.
SUGGESTED ESSENTIAL OIL COMBINATIONS:
- Eucalyptus, Pine and Lavender in equal amounts or a little less of the lavender. The same three with an equal amount of Tea Tree. These two combinations are suggested for your “garden-variety” sinusitis. A drop of Peppermint oil will give an extra penetrative quality to the above formulations.
- If the nose is runny, try Eucalyptus with some Pine oil. Eucalyptus can also thin out thick mucus discharges.
- Make Tea Tree the dominant oil if fungal infection is the suspected culprit. Lavender will assist and mellow out the harsh smell of Tea Tree.
- Add German Chamomile to combinations where an anti-inflammatory effect is desired. Use Clove if the former is not available but use sparingly.
- Our number one recommended therapeutically-grade essential oils come from a California-based company called Baraka. The blended rejuvenation formula includes rosemary verbenone, eucalyptus dives, spike lavender, green myrtle, inula & peppermint oils
These combinations are suggested ways of alleviating unspecified sinusitis. Consulting a qualified aromatherapist will allow for more exact formulations designed for your specific needs.
Many healing herbs can be taken into the body as food. Two of these, Garlic and Horseradish Root are especially useful in the treatment of sinusitis.
One of the most effective and easily accessible healing herbs. Its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and expectorant properties make it very useful in the treatment and management of almost all bronchial and upper respiratory infections. Its distinctive smell comes from its volatile oils, which are largely excreted through the lungs and upper respiratory system, helping to sterilize the lungs,
pharynx and nasopharynx. Garlic is also a prime warming remedy useful in counteracting colds and chills.
- Raw Garlic: Raw, chopped and minimally processed garlic is preferred for acute sinus problems. Processed and deodorized forms are also available but are not nearly as effective due to their lack of volatile oils. Place ½ teaspoon chopped raw garlic on the back of the tongue and leave it there for about 15 minutes, then swallow. Repeat twice daily. The daily dosage is approximately one clove.
- Garlic Pearls: If the pungent odor of raw garlic is not acceptable, garlic oil pearls (similar in appearance to Vitamin E capsules) may be substituted. Although the odor in pearls is greatly reduced, the garlic oil still provides some volatile sterilizing dosage. They are also more convenient to take and carry. The daily dosage is to take 4 – 6 pearls for acute onset or 3 – 6 pearls for long-term chronic care.
- Garlic Tablets: This remedy is the least desirable for sinus and upper respiratory problems. These hard tablets of powdered garlic are better for addressing digestive problems.
OTHER EFFECTIVE HERBAL FOODS:
- ONION: An antiseptic and expectorant
- OREGANO: Antiseptic compound that can be used as tea or added to skin lotion or vegetable oil as a massage lotion.
- PINEAPPLE (not a herb but worth the mention): Bromelain, a compound found in pineapple is useful for treating sinusitis. Combine 250 to 500 mgs. of pure bromelain with Goldenseal to enhance the herb’s already potent effectiveness.
Recipes for Health
GARLIC TONIC SOUP:
(From Herbal Medicine: The Natural Way to Get Well and Stay Well by Dan Dincin Buchman)
This preparation is especially useful at the onset of sinus and other upper respiratory cold and flu symptoms.Take 2 to 3 bulbs of garlic with the cloves separated, peeled, chopped and mashed and 1 small chopped onion (antiseptic, expectorant). Add the ingredients to 1 quart of any lightly salted bouillon (such as vegetable, chicken or miso). Bring to a low boil. Cover and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon of powdered thyme (antibacterial, expectorant and astringent). Drink soup as hot as is comfortable.
You’ve probably eaten garlic bread. This version uses fresh garlic in a quantity which is medicinal. Crush 1 clove of garlic in a garlic press and spread on toast which has been buttered or drizzled with olive oil.
(From Natural Healing with Herbs by Humbart Santillo, N.D.)
Take 2 cups of freshly grated horseradish and soak for 8 hours or overnight in enough honey to cover. Strain and add enough water to horseradish to cover and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain again and add the liquid to the honey mixture. DO NOT REFRIGERATE. Take 1 teaspoonful, 3 times daily. CAUTION: Do not use horseradish when running a high fever. Keep raw horseradish away from eyes and other sensitive membranes. Wash hands immediately after preparation.
HERBAL TEAS (INFUSIONS):
Herbal teas provide water volume to keep tissues moist (cool) and introduce their medicinal qualities directly into the system. High water intake is a major factor in treating and managing chronic sinusitis. Herbal teas useful for sinus treatment include:
EYEBRIGHT: anticatarrhal, astringent and anti-inflammatory.
DANDELION: A general nutritive tonic and blood cleaner which provides a basic tea stock.
PEPPERMINT: One of the oldest household remedies containing aromatic oils. It is helpful in breaking fevers and opening pores and sinus passages. Here is a simple way to make a day’s supply of herbal tea to keep fluid levels up. Dried herbs are recommended: Fill a 2 ½ inch stainless steel tea ball with 2 teaspoons dandelion leaf, 1 teaspoon eyebright and 1 teaspoon peppermint. Place the filled ball in a one-quart jar and fill with boiling water. Cover lightly to prevent volatile oils from escaping in the steam (do not screw the lid on). Allow to steep for 20- 30 minutes and then transfer contents into Thermos (preferably stainless steel) and keep it handy to drink during the day and evening. Drink hot or at room temperature (do not chill). Consume the entire contents in one day. Use the cooled leaves as a facial mask to relieve sinuses.
There are many other useful herbs, but most are best when used under the direction of a natural health care professional.
RECOMMENDED NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
- Daily high-quality probiotic. Replaces good bacteria in the colon & gut. Especially needed if taking an antibiotic. Products that require refrigeration preferred
- Vitamin A - 10,000 IU’s daily. Enhances immune system; helps to maintain healthy mucous
- Vitamin B Complex- 75-100 mg. of each major B vitamin 3 times daily with meals (Vit. B12 1,000 mcg.). Helps to maintain healthy nerves & reduce stress. Sublingual form is best
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids- 3,000+ mg daily, in divided doses since Vit C is water soluble & leaves the body quickly. Boosts immune function, anti-oxidant, aids in preventing infection & decreases mucus
- Vitamin D3 -2,000 IU’s daily. Facilitates normal immune system function
- Vitamin E- 200 IU’s daily. Anti-oxidant; improves circulation & speeds healing
- Coenzyme Q10- 60 mg. daily. Immune system stimulant; Increases cellular oxygenation
- Fish Oil or Flaxseed Oil-500 mg.’s+ daily. Source of Omega 3’s essential fatty acids
- Quercetin with or without Bromelain-500 mg + daily. Protects against allergens & increases immunity
- Chaga Mushroom Extract- twice a day. Strong immune boosting, anti-inflammatory & anti-viral benefits
- Elderberry Tincture- one teaspoonful twice a day. Strong immune booster & antiviral
Wellness Rx Daily Checklist for Chronic Sinusitis
CONDITION UPON WAKING UP
Nasal Discharge (color, content)
Puffy Eyes/Facial Pressure
Hours of Sleep
How do you feel?
How is your energy level?
Rapid Temperature Change
Very Dry Air
New Rugs. Drapes, etc.
Exposure to Sick People
Daily Drug Regimen
Prescription or OTC Drugs