Sinus problems can be uncomfortable, persistent and even painful. The linings of the sinus cavities get inflamed and increase their production of mucus. Drainage is reduced, which exacerbates the congestion and irritation. Symptoms typically include congestion and/or runny nose, postnasal drip and headaches. The pain is often focused behind the eyes or near the cheekbones. Conventional treatments include decongestants, saline nasal sprays, oral or nasal corticosteroids and antibiotics. Many people prefer to use natural remedies to deal with sinus problems.
Nasal irrigation is recommended by alternative health practitioners as well as conventional physicians. In its simplest form, nasal irrigation consists of using a saline nasal spray, available at most chemists, to rinse and moisten the nasal passages. A more involved type of irrigation, which more fully rinses the nasal passage and sinuses, is becoming more popular. A neti pot (shown here) or squirt bottle is filled with warm saltwater. Occasionally substances such as tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, xylitol or other herbs are added as well. Nasal irrigation is an ayurvedic practice, and in studies at the University of Wisconsin was shown to provide effective relief from sinus symptoms.
Herbal remedies can be used as tinctures, pills or capsules, or taken as a tea. Flaxseeds or flax oil can be used for inflammation, as can common substances such as cayenne, garlic and horseradish. Some nasal sprays are available with capsaicin, the substance that makes cayenne and other hot peppers so spicy. Crushed horseradish with lemon juice is considered particularly effective for sinus congestion and inflammation. Elderflower is valued for its ability to thin mucus and increase circulation to the sinus area, as recommended by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
The authors of "Prescription for Natural Cures" recommend the use of homeopathic remedies in strengths of 6x, 12x, 6C, 12C or 30C twice daily for two weeks. The appropriate remedy depends on the individual's specific symptoms. Pulsatilla is appropriate for those whose symptoms are better in open air and worse in warm rooms, while hepar sulphuris is recommended when symptoms are worse with a draft and the nose is sore and blocked. Silica is effective for chronic sinusitis that is worse in cold air. Kali bichromium, belladonna, and other remedies may be used for other combinations of symptoms.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be used in a variety of forms to assist with sinus problems. Patricia Bragg, ND, PhD recommends using it in a nasal wash, as well as for a throat gargle. She also recommends drinking it daily to help get rid of mucus conditions. It may help to detoxify the body. Mix it with horseradish, and chew on it until the flavour is gone, to relieve congested sinuses.
Acupuncture and acupressure provide relief for some individuals. Bladder point 2 can be stimulated to relieve congestion and headaches, and large intestine point 4 can be stimulated for pain in the front of the head. Aromatherapy can be effective, especially when essential oils such as eucalyptus and tea tree oil are used.