Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sinusitis and herbalism

Sinusitis affects millions every year, generally resulting from reactions to allergens, cold and flu.  Prescribed medications such as antibiotics and antihistamines may offer temporary help.  

Essential oils can offer relief for the symptoms of sinusitis. Oils are put in an aromastick, one by the bed and one to carry around.  Individuals respond differantly to essential oils and some experimentation is necessary.  

Steam inhalation can be an effective treatment (up to 5 or 6 times a day) 
The following oils can be useful: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Pine, Thyme, Tea tree 

Lavender and Thyme when there is pain 
Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Pine for blockage and stuffiness 
Tea tree to treat infection. 

To prevent the formation of too much mucous, milk and wheat can be excluded from the diet and gentle massage around the nose and sinus will help to drain them.

At the same time acupuncture is very effective used in conjunction with essential oils.

Other possibilities are resins and herbs. This is an intriguing resin which is chewed as a gum.

Herbal treatments can offer an alternative to clearing stubborn cases of Sinusitis which are resistent to medical treatment or surgery. There are no magic herbs but please read on for more information if you are considering self care with herbalism.

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the term used to describe an inflammatory condition of the sinuses, which are small airspaces within the bones around the eyes, cheeks and forehead.
Everybody has four pairs of sinuses that have small openings that connect the nasal cavity. The nose and sinuses are both lined by the same type of membrane, and when the latter is working efficiently, airflow is accommodated, as is the mucous that drains from the sinuses into the nose.
When any of these cavities becomes inflamed, the drainage process is inhibited thus creating the ideal environment for congestion and infection, resulting finally in Sinusitis
Common causes of Sinusitis include:
  • Bacterial infections, which often result from cold and flu.
  • Allergies, especially to air-born allergens and certain foods.
  • Hay fever
  • Inhalation of harsh chemical fumes.
  • Minor anatomical abnormalities.
Sinusitis may be acute or chronic, depending on the length and frequency of the Sinusitis episode itself. Acute Sinusitis often follows a respiratory infection and only lasts a few weeks, whereas chronic Sinusitis often lasts for two months or more. Chronic sinusitis can truly make ones life miserable, as symptoms are more severe and debilitating, preventing the person from participating in everyday life.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

Symptoms of Sinusitis include:
  • Blocked or runny noses and blocked airways.
  • Thick green/yellow mucous discharge from the nose.
  • Congested feeling in the head.
  • Post-nasal drip (discharge at the back of throat originating from the nasal passages).
  • Loss of smell and taste.
  • Fatigue.
  • Swollen/sore throat.
  • Throbbing headaches.
  • Touch and light sensitivity around the eyes, jaw and nose.
  • Puffy, dark bags or rings beneath the eyes.
  • Toothache (rare).

How do herbs alleviate symptoms of Sinusitis?

Herbs treat Sinusitis by:
  • Clearing mucous and phlegm congestion.
  • Increasing the individual’s resistance to specific allergens.
  • Strengthening the overall immune system.
  • Acting as an anti-inflammatory, decreasing swelling of the nasal passages.
  • Eliminating bacteria and preventing viruses from taking hold of the body.
  • Cleansing the blood and liver.

Herbs for Sinusitis

  • Astragalus acts as a lung and spleen tonic, and also relieves chronic fatigue symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis.
  • Cat’s claw acts to heal any associated sinus infection and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Capsaicin, the spicy substance derived hot peppers has been demonstrated to clear sinus congestion, relieve and prevent sinus headaches and prevent sinus infections.
  • Echinacea act as both an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, and prevents foreign bodies from breaking through mucous membrane barriers of the nasal passages and sinus.
  • Goldenseal contains antimicrobial properties that protect the sinuses against a variety of pathogens. It also contains the immune-enhancing hydrastine that stimulates mucous flow.
  • Licorice acts as an anti-inflammatory by stimulating the adrenal glands and boosting the half-life of the stress hormone, Cortisol.
  • Nettle efficiently treats respiratory symptoms of allergic reactions to allergens such as pollen, mold and fungus. It is also rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins that ensure a strong and healthy immune system.
  • Peppermint acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, which helps to soothe inflamed mucous membranes of the sinuses. 
  • Reishi is a powerful liver tonic that acts as an anti-viral, and boosts the overall immune system.
If you are interested in treating in learning more about how herbs may help your Sinusitis, please contact a professional Herbalist or naturopath for more information.


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