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General characteristics

General characteristics

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the inner lining of the sinuses. The sinuses are air filled hollow cavities in the facial area of the skull located in pairs on either side of the nose, under the eyes in the cheekbones and forehead. The main sinuses are the maxillary (either side of the lower portion of the nose), the sphenoid and ethnoid (either side of the upper part of the nose), and the frontal (both sides of the forehead just above the eyebrows). They are lined with hair like structures called cilia (like the respiratory passages in the lungs) that together with their mucous secretions help to propel pathogens and irritants away from the nose to drain out of the area.
Their exact purpose is unclear but it is thought that the sinus cavities themselves, being hollow, add to the quality of the voice and lighten the weight of the skull, they also help to moisten the environment in the nose, they act as a filter for inhaled particles, act as part of the immune system, serve as 'crumple zones' for our face to help protect from more serious head trauma, help regulate pressure in the area and contribute to the sense of smell.
In response to an infection or allergen of some sort the linings of the sinuses become inflamed and secrete excessive thick mucous that cannot properly be drained from the cavities. Symptoms include pain and pressure in the face, eyes, head or even jaw, a blocked nose, mouth breathing, a thick discoloured mucous, worse pain on bending over, loss of taste and smell, blocked nose, fever, feeling unwell generally, pressure or pain in the ears, cough and bad breath (due to mouth breathing and infectious materials). Sinusitis can be acute or chronic (long term).
Healing objectives are to eliminate the cause of infection and bolster the immune system, thin the trapped mucous and relieve any symptoms using herbs and natural healing and to maintain a good healthy diet to reduce the likelihood of sinusitis re-occurring.
Here is an excellent article by herbalist Jim McDonald entitiled 'surviving sinusitis', an excellent and informative article well worth a read and includes herbal and natural treatments ideas that really work. In it he details the different types of sinusiitis which is illuminating and crucial to understand if you are a sufferer. Treatment for the various types are quite different.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Eliminate or reduce all mucous promoting foods and drinks from the diet such as dairy, wheat and refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits (especially citrus fruits and berries) for their nutrient and health promoting properties.

Include plenty of garlic, onions, cayenne, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and similar to boost immunity, liquefy mucous and reduce inflammation.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Horseradish root, fresh or dried (or even simply grating it into a bowl and inhaling the aroma) will liquefy the contents of the sinuses and release some of the pressure by allowing the fluids to drain from the sinus cavities.

You can make a snuff mixture using any of the following powders; cayenne (chili), horseradish, mustard, black pepper. Inhale a tiny pinch (half a little fingernail sized pinch) strongly into each nostril, get a tissue and sit down and ride the sensation!. The blood stimulating herbs will act in the same way as horseradish and everything will begin to water. A friend of mine snorted a little too much cayenne powder (about half a teaspoon or so) for his sinusitis that kept reoccurring each winter. After rolling on the floor for quite some time, his sinuses cleared and haven't troubled him since (that was well over 10 years ago!). Read the full story on our blog page here!

A tea can be made using eyebright, elderflowers, peppermint, plantain leaf, ground ivy, nettle and sage. Use equal parts of the dried herbs and take 3 cups daily.

The following formula can provide anti-infectious properties and act as a tonic to the mucous producing membranes. In a base of 200 ml of echinacea tincture add 20 ml of goldenseal tincture and 20 ml of bayberry tincture. Take a teaspoon in water 3 times daily.

Try adding a few drops of blue flag tincture to each dose of the above formula for its cleansing and clearing properties.

Elecampagne root can help to decongest and drain the sinuses.

Fenugreek seed tea can help with differant types of sinusitis, dry and chronic or runny and congested.

Marshmallow root tea can help to break down dry caked catarrhal secretions and lubricate the mucous membranes, freeing up and clearing the sinus cavities. Violet leaves are also useful in dry congested sinusitis as they moisturise and disperse hard congestion.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Try sipping a glass of water containing a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of raw unpasteurised cider vinegar to help clear the sinuses. Add a pinch of dried ginger powder and cayenne powder for added circulatory boosting effects and to promptly liquefy the mucous. Once you have inhaled deeply through both nostrils, hold for a few seconds than blow hard into a tissue through each nostril. repeat this several times throughout the day.

Make a face poultice by roughly shredding some fresh horseradish root, fresh ginger root or adding mustard powder to oil to make a paste and apply it very carefully to the areas of the face such as above the eyebrows and either side of the nose, leave on for a few minutes then wash off thoroughly. You may want to coat the skin with a thick oil such as olive oil to protect the skin from burning and discomfort.

Steam inhalation with a few drops each of the essential oils of eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint  or 'olbas oil' will help to disinfect and clear the nasal passages to make breathing easier. Drop the oils in a bowl of boiling water, close the eyes and breathe deeply over the bowl for a few minutes, cover the head with a towel to enhance the effects.

Some people find relief by inhaling some water with a pinch of seasalt dissolved in it. It seems to work by gradually drying out the excess mucous.

Get plenty of rest and raise your head and chest in bed at night to help with breathing. A few appropriate essential oils (as above) dripped around the bed or in an oil burner will also help disinfect whilst you sleep.

Avoid using over the counter decongestant sprays as these can work temporarily but will not cure the problem and their use can become habitual. The spray may allow you to breathe for a while then stop working and be needed again and again without ever solving the initial infection or cause of the sinusitis and lead to more chronic, long term suffering.

Humming strongly for up to an hour can provide some relief from blocked sinuses.

Ear candling can be performed by a qualified practitioner to help relieve pressure in the sinuses.

Crush some fresh garlic and infuse it in a little oil for several hours. Drop the oil in the ears and plug with some cotton wool or place a whole clove of garlic (cut one end to fit the ear) in the ear/s to help fight infection and relieve pain.

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