It may sound a bit weird to you, but although I’m allergic to dogs I can’t get enough of them! In fact, I grew up with three dogs. I used to have to take allergy medication daily. That was until I started rinsing my sinus regularly. Rinsing my sinus gave me instant relief and didn’t have the negative side-effects of conventional treatments!
What Are Sinus Infections?
Sinus infections or sinusitis happens when your nasal cavities are inflamed. Often caused by a virus, sinusitis is best known for the “stuffiness” it causes. A stuffy nose isn’t just from the buildup of mucus. It is also caused by swelling of the nasal tissues. So when you blow your stuffy nose frantically, you could actually be contributing to the inflammation! Not only that, but mucus plays a significant role in the health of your sinus. Mucus works to trap incoming irritants and helps you get rid of them.
Drying out your nose can lead to further complications. If you’ve ever blown your nose out so much, you can potentially cause it to bleed. This happened to me a lot when I was young!
Sinus infections affect over 39 million Americans every year. Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Thick, green or yellow sinus discharge
- Sore throat
- Postnasal drip
How Do We Treat Sinus Infections?
The “Wrong” Way
For a long time, sinus infection and allergies have been treated with antibiotics, antihistamines, and anticholinergics. This poses many problems.
For example, while antibiotics can kill the bacteria causing your sinus infection, it will also kill the bacteria needed to keep your nasal passages healthy.
Antihistamines don’t work to solve the problem either. Antihistamines only block the body’s natural response to irritants.
More recently, the long-term use of anticholinergics such as Benadryl has been linked to dementia and memory loss.
Dr. Javed Sheikh, the Clinical Director of Allergy at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard, outlined 8 surprising side effects of allergy medicine:
- Decreased sex drive
- Overstimulated appetite/weight gain
- Altered sense of taste and smell
- Long-term health effects
- Insomnia and anxiety
- Cognitive impairment
So it goes without saying that a more natural and less obtrusive approach to treating your sinuses is in the most cases ideal. This was especially the case for me and my long-term sinus problems at home.
The “Right” Way
Sinus rinses are salt-based solutions that are inserted into the sinuses with a nasal rinse vessel and then blown out. I have to admit, the first time I saw a demonstration of how it’s done, I felt it was a bit odd. But the relief is definitely worth it!
The typical sinus rinse will start with a base of distilled water, salt, and baking soda. Distilled water is ideal as it is pure and free of chemicals and harmful parasites. Never use unboiled tap water, or bottled mineral water as they have the risk of carrying parasites that can damage your nasal passages.
While the basic sinus rinse can do the job, you can enhance your rinse with antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal herbs. Different herbs will have different effects, but in general, two types of herbs will help treat your sinus: astringent herbs and demulcent herbs.
Astringent herbs such as plantain and sage work to tighten the nasal tissues. Tightening the nasal tissues is ideal for treating runny noses, watery eyes, and sneezing.
Demulcent herbs secrete a natural thick gooey substance that works to soothe inflamed tissues. This helps to treat dry and painful sinuses. Demulcent herbs include marshmallow root and licorice.
Take caution, though. Although I call it the “right” way, there are scenarios in which you’ll want to avoid using a sinus rinse. For example, a completely clogged sinus can’t be cleared by a quick rinse. In this case, you’ll want to use an essential oil diffuser. They act over a longer period to clear your sinus than a sinus rinse does.
This sinus rinse recipe will reduce inflammation in the nasal region and also target the infection directly. Try this recipe if your sinus problems include a runny nose and sore throat.
Herbal Nasal Rinse
What You’ll Need:
- ½ cup plantain leaf
- 1 cup marshmallow root
- ½ cup bee balm
- Pinch of sea salt
- 8 cups of distilled water
- 8 cups of boiling water
- 2 ½ gallon jars
- 1-gallon jar
- Nasal rinse vessel
- Put the marshmallow root in a ½ gallon jar. Add 8 cups of distilled, room temperature water to the jar. Let this sit for 4 hours and then strain it.
- Put the bee balm and plantain in a separate ½ gallon jar. Add 8 cups of boiling water to the jar. Let this sit for 4 hours and then strain it.
- Once they’re done, combine the two mixtures in a gallon jar.
- Warm a small amount of this mixture, add a pinch of sea salt and stir.
- Use this in your preferred nasal rinse vessel (I like using neti pots).
- Rinse 3 times daily until your sinus problems have subsided.
You may store your rinse in the refrigerator. It should keep for a week.
An herbal sinus rinse is a safe and effective way to treat your sinus. Give it a try today!