The sinuses are cavities in the bones around the nose, the cheeks, and the eyes. These cavities are lined with membranes that produce mucus, and when the sinuses are func- tioning normally, this mucus serves a protective purpose: It warms and moistens incoming air and ﬁlters it for germs. When sinuses can’t drain properly, however, the mucus accumulates and becomes stagnant, making the area ripe for infection.
Sinusitis, which is the name for an infection of the sinus cavities, can be quite unpleasant and often painful. The mucus build-up leads to clogged nasal passages, thick drainage, and a general feeling of weariness and discomfort. The swollen membranes feel even worse, because they can ﬁll up the tiny sinus cavities and press against the bones of the face. If you are unsure whether your head congestion is sinusi- tis, bend forward from the waist. If you feel heavy pressure or pain against your cheek- bones or your eyes, you probably have sinusitis.
Sinusitis may be either acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a complication from another respiratory infection, such as a cold, the ﬂu, or bronchi- tis. Any of these infections can lead to blocked drainage, which in turn causes sinusi- tis. If the sinus membranes don’t have a chance to heal fully, an acute case can easily turn into a chronic one.
Recurring colds and ﬂus—warning signs of a suppressed immune system—may lead to chronic sinusitis, as can other factors that consistently cause an obstruction of the sinus cavities. Repeated exposure to environmental allergens and irritants, such as mold spores or tobacco, is a common cause, as are food allergies or a diet that’s high in mucus-forming foods.
Research has shown that chronic sinusitis is most often related to an immune response to a fungal infection in the sinus cavity. This research was ﬁrst released in
1999 by a Mayo Clinic study, and the results have since been duplicated in subsequent studies. Natural practitioners often treat people who have chronic sinusitis for a sys- temic fungal infection, and this condition is helped by such an approach.
Sinusitis is an all-too-familiar ailment, but it can often be treated and prevented with simple home care and immune-boosting strategies. If your symptoms don’t disappear within a few weeks, however, or if you have intense sinus pain, consult your doctor. In severe and prolonged cases, sinusitis can lead to serious diseases like pneumonia or even meningitis.
• Pressure and pain around the cheekbones and the eyes
• Clogged nasal passages
• Thick, greenish-yellow nasal discharge
• Diminished sense of smell or taste
• Fever (more often in acute cases rarely in chronic)
Anything that blocks the sinus cavities or causes the mucus membranes to swell can lead to sinusitis.
• A respiratory infection
• Environmental allergies, especially hay fever
• Environmental irritants, including tobacco and pollution
• Food allergies or sensitivities, especially to milk
• A diet that’s high in mucus- forming foods
• A dental infection
• Any activity that places pressure on the sinuses: swimming, scuba diving, ﬂying in planes
• An immune system reaction to a fungal infection in the sinus cavity
• Systemic candidiasis
If allergies or recurring colds are the cause of your sinusitis, the following recommen- dations will help, but you should also see the appropriate section in this book. The suggestions there will help you resolve the root of your problem.
Mayo Clinic study looked at the ability to test for sinus fungal infections in ﬁfty- four patients who had a history of chronic sinusitis. Researchers found that with one of the testing methods,
100 percent of the patients tested posi- tive for fungus, while another test- ing method showed that 76 percent had signs of fungus.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for chronic sinusitis: Nasal swab—check for yeast or bacteria
Immune system imbalance or disease—blood
Hormone testing (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone)—saliva, blood, or urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially magnesium, B12, iron, and
Digestive function and candida testing—stool analysis
Anemia—blood test (CBC, iron, ferritin, % saturation)
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
During an acute infection, eat lightly. In addition to 1 glass of clean water every two waking hours, drink plenty of herbal teas, vegetable juices, and broths. Chicken soup—especially with lots of vegetables—is still one of the best therapies for any res- piratory infection.
Once the worst stage of an infection has passed, focus on foods that produce lit- tle or no mucus: whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, cold-pressed oils, and raw seeds and nuts.
Several foods will aid mucus drainage and ease the pressure in your sinuses. Add cayenne, garlic, onions, or horseradish to your soups or meals. For a powerful sinus drainage remedy, eat a small spoonful of crushed horseradish mixed with lemon juice. (You may want to be near a sink or have a towel handy after taking this potent combination.)
Flaxseeds and ﬂaxseed oil will reduce inﬂammation. Take a teaspoon of oil every day during the infection, or add some ﬂaxseeds to cereals or salads.
If you must take an antibiotic for a sinus infection, be sure to consume a nondairy source of friendly bacteria, such as keﬁr or sauerkraut.
Food to Avoid
People who suffer from chronic sinusitis must banish all mucus-forming foods from their diet. Dairy products are the worst culprit, but reﬁned ﬂours, chocolate, eggs, and fried and processed food cause high levels of mucus as well. If your case is acute, avoid these products for the duration of your illness. When you feel better, restrict your consumption of them to prevent a recurrence.
Sugar and fruit juices should be reduced or eliminated because they feed yeast, which is often present in people who have chronic sinusitis.
See the Food Allergies section, especially the elimination diet on page 253, to see
whether a certain food is triggering your sinus blockage. Examine your reaction to dairy and wheat very closely; these foods often cause coldlike symptoms.
Salt and alcohol both have dehydrating effect on the sinuses and result in further inﬂammation. Avoid alcohol and severely restrict salt intake.
During an acute infection, reduce your intake of solid foods and focus on water, broths, and juices. This will help your body focus on healing, rather than on digestion.
If you have a chronic case of sinusitis, go on a two- to three-day juice fast to rid your body of allergens, environmental irritants, and mucus. Green drinks will encour- age mucus expulsion.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Sinusitis
Super Prescription #1 Homeopathic Combination Sinusitis Formula
Take as directed on the container four times daily. These types of formulas con- tain the most common homeopathic remedies that are used for acute sinusitis.
Super Prescription #2 Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Take 5 ml or 500 mg four times daily. This combination of herbs works well for acute sinusitis by enhancing immune function and reducing mucus congestion.
Super Prescription #3 Oregano oil (Origanum vulgare)
Take 500 mg or 0.5 ml four times daily, or take as directed on the container. Oregano oil has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Super Prescription #4 N-acetylcysteine
Take 500 mg three times daily. This nutrient thins mucus secretions so that the sinuses can drain more effectively.
Super Prescription #5 Bromelain
Take 500 mg three times daily between meals. Look for products standardized to
2,000 M.C.U. (milk-clotting units) per 1,000 mg or 1,200 G.D.U. (gelatin-dissolv- ing units) per 1,000 mg. Bromelain has a natural anti-inﬂammatory effect and has been shown in studies to improve acute sinusitis. Protease enzyme products also have this beneﬁt.
Super Prescription #6 Grapefruit seed extract
This is available as a nasal spray for sinusitis. Use the spray four times daily for acute sinusitis and twice daily for chronic sinusitis.
Super Prescription #7 Collodial silver
Use it as a nasal spray, or dilute it in a saline solution. Use the spray four times daily for acute sinusitis and twice daily for chronic sinusitis.
Vitamin C has anti-allergy and immune-enhancing effects. Take 1,000 mg four times daily. Note: Reduce the dosage if diarrhea occurs.
Bioﬂavonoids are helpful for people with allergies. Take 500 mg three times daily of a mixed bioﬂavonoid formula.
Grape seed extract or maritime pine bark extract reduces inﬂammation of the sinus. Take up to 300 mg daily for chronic sinusitis.
Garlic (Allium sativum) also ﬁghts infection and also helps to drain sinuses. Take 250 to 500 mg twice daily.
Elderﬂower tea is another traditional remedy that thins mucus. It also increases cir- culation to the sinus area.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an anti-inﬂammatory herb—as well as a cooking spice—which will reduce sinus pressure. Find an extract standardized for 400 to 600 mg of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) and take 400 to 600 mg three times a day, or use 1 to 2 cc of a tincture three times a day.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. For acute sinusi- tis, take a 30C potency four times daily. For chronic sinusitis, take a 6x, 12x, 6C, 12C, or 30C twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is helpful for the ﬁrst stage of a sinus infection. The person experiences a high fever and throbbing pain, especially on the right side of the sinus. The pain is made worse by bending the head forward.
Bryonia (Bryonia alba) is a remedy for when movement of the head, especially bending the head downward, causes sinus pain. The person has a great thirst and feels irritable.
Hepar Sulphuris is for a blocked, sore nose that’s made worse by even the slight- est draft. People who beneﬁt from this remedy tend to be irritable while ill.
Kali Bichromium is indicated when there is thick, stringy, yellow and/or green mucus that causes pain at the root of the nose.
Mercurius Solubilis or Vivus is needed for people who are feverish and have pain around the nose and the cheekbones. They salivate excessively and have thick white- or yellowish-coated tongues. Their nasal discharge is foul smelling and so is their breath.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is for people with a thick yellow/green mucus dis- charge. They feel better in the open air or with a window open. Their symptoms are worse in a warm room. They have little thirst.
Silica (Silicea) is good remedy for chronic sinusitis where the nasal cavities will not drain. The person feels worse in the cold air, but the sinuses feel better with cold applications.
• To relieve sinus congestion and headaches, work Bladder 2.
• Large Intestine 4 eases pain anywhere in the body but is particularly effective
at treating pain in the front of the head, including in the sinus cavities.
To drain mucus and carry it away from the body, get a facial lymphatic drainage massage. You can also try this home technique: Lean over a sink or a towel and gently rub the areas over and below your eye sockets, then extend out from
beneath your eye sockets in a straight line across your cheeks. This will allow your sinuses to drain.
The toes correspond to the sinuses. Work all of them.
Work the lymph area to encourage the production of antibodies and to ﬁght infection.
Hot baths, showers, and steams are all relaxing, effective ways to relieve sinus pres- sure. Add any of the essential oils listed in this entry for extra beneﬁts.
Alternating hot (two minutes) and cold (thirty seconds) over the sinus area helps to reduce pain and inﬂammation of the sinuses.
Eucalyptus oil will clear out sinuses quickly. Use it in a massage, a steam inhalation, or a bath, or simply inhale deeply over an open bottle of oil.
Tea tree oil will ﬁght both bacterial and viral infections. It’s a powerful oil, so use just a few drops in a bath or a steam. You can also diffuse a little in your bedroom for nighttime sinus relief.
Lavender is a gentle oil that stimulates your immune system and helps you get to sleep. Use it in any preparation you like, or add it to any of the previous oils.
General Stress-Reduction Techniques
Stress isn’t a direct cause of sinusitis, but constant unresolved tension can leave you less able to ﬁght off infections. Use stress-reduction techniques to create a healthy immune system. You’ll relieve stress, and the deep breathing will encourage good air ﬂow through your nasal passages.
• Regular exercise will help keep your nasal passages clear. Try to work out daily, but use some common-sense precautions: don’t exercise if you have a fever, and don’t go outside if seasonal allergies are likely to strike.
• Saline rinses for the sinus are helpful, to reduce the effect of allergens that contribute to sinusitis. Saline nasal sprays are available; look for those that also contain xylitol, a natural extract that prevents bacteria from adhering to the nasal cavity.
• If you have chronic sinusitis, you may well have problems with candida over- growth. See the Candidiasis section for more information.