Self Help for Sinusitis

by Zoe Naylor, Medical Herbalist

Some people find that their sinus's become so blocked that they can hardly breathe. Around the eyes really hurts and the face seems swollen. In many cases, antibiotics are prescribed that relieve them a little but it always comes back. So what can be done?

The sinus's are hollow cavities in the head. They consist of soft tissue and should remain empty save for a thin layer of mucus. However, if we over-produce this mucus they easily become congested, and a bacterial or fungal infection may occur on top of it. Sinusitis may affect hearing, cause nasal congestion, facial tenderness, excess mucus.

Dietary wise, adding fresh chillis and garlic to foods will immediately warm you from the inside and get phlegm moving. Garlic is both a strong antibacterial and antifungal yet must be taken fresh or as stabilised allicin extract. Reduce the amount of dairy products that you consume as they are mucous forming. If you really can't live without cheese, try goats milk products instead.

Steamers will loosen phelgm. Add some drops of Olbas Oil or Napiers Vapourease Oil to a bowl of hot water and place your head over it, covered by a towel, and breathing in the aromatic steam.

Herbs that help the sinuses include goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Do ensure this is bought from a sustainable source. Plantain (Plantago sp.) helps to tone the mucus membranes. Echinacea for any infection (preferably Echinacea angustifolia), and elder berries and flowers (Sambucus nigra) for the upper respiratory tract and immune system. The flowers are particularly helpful for drying up the sinuses.

If you have had several courses of antibiotics it is essential you take probiotics to restore your good bacteria or alternatively eat live yogurt daily.

However, if you see no improvement with the above you should see your doctor or your herbalist to ensure there are no underlying allergies, polyps or other causes creating the congestion. It is always important to get to the root of the cause to ensure healing and prevent illnesses from reoccurring.