A sinus infection or sinusitis is swelling or inflammation of your sinuses and can often follow allergies or a cold. Normally your sinuses are filled with air, but conditions that block the drainage of the sinuses can and allow them to fill with fluid allow bacteria to grow and boy do you feel it!
- Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Thick, yellow, foul-smelling nasal discharge
- Pressure or pain around the face and eyes
- Headache (generally in the forehead area)
- Nasal obstruction
- Post-nasal drip
- A cold that won’t go away or gets worse
- Fever or cough
Yes these could also be symptoms of a common cold, but the kicker is that sinusitis can last for weeks.
Many common sinus medications including antibiotics, decongestants, mucolytics, nasal corticosteroids and antihistamines, come with unwelcome side-effects and often create conditions that lay the ground work for future infections. Antibiotics for instance can wipe out not only the bacteria causing your sinus infection, but also beneficial bacteria lining your respiratory tract potentially allowing other pathogenic bacteria to take root. Antihistamines can dry out mucous membranes making them more susceptible to bacterial growth. Some oral decongestants have side-effects including irregular heartbeat, insomnia, urinary retention and agitation.
With side-effects like these, it makes natural alternatives to treating sinus infections very attractive-especially when they work! My earliest introduction to seeing how effective herbs can be for sinus infections was with my high school English teacher Ms. Krambeck. Ms. Krambeck had a recurring sinus infection that had progressed to where it was getting dangerously close to her brain and the common antibiotic treatments were not working. Her doctors decided they would have to do a surgery where they effectively peeled her face back and “killed” the sinuses that were getting infected. The Doctor gave her one last antibiotic to try before scheduling the surgery. Ms. Krambeck was relaying the information about the infection and possible upcoming surgery to my mom, when my mom nonchalantly mentioned that she had seen herbs work very well for sinus infections and if she wanted to try them my mom would be happy to help. Instead of taking the antibiotic, Ms. Krambeck tried the herbal remedy instead. When Ms. Krambeck returned to her Doctor, he proudly announced that the sinus infection was healing well and not only that, there also wasn’t any scar tissue. The surgery was cancelled. When my teacher told the doctor that she hadn’t taken the prescription he had given her, but herbs instead, well he didn’t want to hear it. But that’s okay; at least she did not have to have the surgery. 🙂
And now we will share our sinus protocol with you. Our protocol is designed to be antibacterial and antiviral. We also use things that provide immediate relief while the herbs work internally to fight the infection. Many of these herbs work interchangeably for other illnesses so they are great things to always have on hand.
Neti Pot:The Neti Pot is an essential in any household for sinus infections, allergies, head colds, excess mucous or just feeling stuffed up. Add water and sea salt and gently pour though your nasal canals. You may not want to do this in front of anyone because it certainly doesn’t look glamorous, but it is really effective.Use in the morning and at night approximately 2 hours before bedtime when you have a cold or sinus infection. Using it too close to bedtime can prevent sufficient drainage of the salt water, allowing it to pool in sinuses. Sometimes I will do this while I am in the shower.
Tip: If using tap water in your neti pot boil at least 5 minutes and then allow to completely cool before putting in your neti pot. If using distilled water I usually just heat to a boil and then allow to completely cool.
These next three herbs work together and we call them our “Sinus Trio”. When taken consistently, we have seen the three together knock out sinus infections within a week.
2) Echinacea/Goldenseal Tincture: We love this tincture with both antibacterial and antiviral components it addresses illnesses whether they have a viral or bacterial origin. Additionally, Goldenseal Root has an affinity for the mucous membranes. Echinacea helps boost your own immune system. The benefit of tinctures is that they are easily assimilated by the body in a way that dried herbs are not. The best way to take it is in a small amount of liquid. Herbs work best when they are taken consistently from the first sign of an illness until it is completely resolved.
Here’s How We use the Sinus Trio During Sinus Infections: At first sign of infection we take ½ teaspoon Echinacea/Goldenseal tincture along with two Goldenseal capsules and two Garlic capsules. Then in 2 hours we take ¼ teaspoon Echinacea/Goldenseal tincture with either 2 Goldenseal or 2 Garlic capsules. We repeat this cycle for 4 days alternating the type of capsules we take with the tincture.
3) Garlic Capsule: This is our go-to antibiotic for when we get sick. Garlic has antibacterial antiviral and antifungal properties.
4) Goldenseal Capsules: We alternate the powdered root capsules with the tincture.
5) Rosemary Sinus Oil: I keep a bottle of this in my purse when I have a sinus infection because it provides instant relief. Essential oil molecules are actually small enough to penetrate the skin, so I rub this liberally on my temples and lightly on my nostrils and other sinus areas. Rosemary essential oil is also antiseptic so it is wonderful for respiratory infections. You’ll end up wanting to keep a bottle of this nearby (and more in the cabinet) so you never run out.
6) Simmons Herbal Vapors: I love this stuff, think of it as an all-natural Vicks® VapoRub®. This product is a natural essential if you have children in your house. For congestion, gently apply under the nostrils and on the chest. It may be the key to a good night’s sleep even when the kids are sick.
Tip: If you or your child is congested, take a warm steam shower before bed (with Eucalyptus Essential Oil) and then rub a touch of these vapors under nose and on chest.
7) Ravensara Essential Oil: I was just recently introduced to this oil and I love it. It provides instant relief when your sinus infection won’t even let you think. Put a few drops on a tissue and snort the oil up your nose (attractive I know but worth it!). It helps to instantly clear your sinuses.
8) Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil: Essential oils are powerful. When we have a sinus or respiratory infection, we use Eucalyptus or Rosemary Essential Oil interchangeably in the humidifier while we are sleeping or in the shower to relieve congestion. My husband uses Eucalyptus oil in his shower every day to alleviate sinus issues from his seasonal allergies.
When you or your children are sick and you all need a good night’s sleep, add eucalyptus to the shower to relieve congestion before bedtime. Or add to your humidifier in the bedroom. I even put a few drops of essential oil mixed with water in my children’s nebulizer when they were younger to relieve congestion.
Eucalyptus is said to have analgesic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, decongestant and expectorant properties. What more could you want for a sinus infection?
By using herbs to treat sinus infections, you can address the problem directly without causing additional side-effects and creating an environment where it is easier to get more infections. It is worth switching out what you have in your medicine cabinet and trying an herbal alternative.
What is your favorite natural remedy for treating sinus infections?