Sinus and nasal issues go with this season like hot cocoa and windshield scrapers. Whether you are suffering from sinus issues or nasal issues the answer rarely lies with a prescription for antibiotics. In fact, antibiotics often make these conditions worse. Let’s look into why the problems start at this time of year and natural ways to resolve them.
As soon as we come indoors, shut our windows and blast the heat we have started drying out our mucous membranes. The lining of our nose and sinuses are our first line of defense from invaders like bacteria, viruses and fungal infections. Think of it like a membrane barrier made of a mesh of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder (I use this analogy in the gut and lungs as well) making anything that it comes in contact with give name, rank, and id. If one of these invaders is bacterial, viral or fungal…achoo! And out they go. Unfortunately, when the tissues dry out they also become thin and fragile and the soldiers can’t do their job as well. This is how the invaders find territory to settle in and multiply.
A logical preventative measure would be to keep the tissues from drying out. Now don’t go running to purchase a humidifier just yet. Too much humidity can allow molds to grow in the environment and end up in your sinuses and lungs. The ideal level of humidity to have in your house is 35-45%. The best way to keep the tissues from drying out is through a saline or xylitol nasal spray or a neti pot.
A neti pot looks like an Aladdin’s lamp that you fill with warm salt water. You tilt your head sideways over a sink and pour the warm salt water into the higher nostril and allow the water to pass over your nasal and sinus tissues as it runs out the lower nostril. The best thing a neti pot does is rinse away allergens and microbes from the tissues as it hydrates them. Make sure to always wash the neti pot well after use.
For centuries the stinging nettle plant has been used successfully for allergy and sinus conditions. Known for its tiny hair-like barbs underneath its leaves, stinging nettle can cause a stinging sensation if touched. Not only can it help relieve symptoms but it assists the immune system by making it more resistant to allergens in the future such as pollen. The bonus is that it doesn’t cause the common side effects that can accompany sinus and allergy medication.
When an allergen comes in contact with the immune system of the body through the mucous membranes, the body will produce an antibody. An antibody is basically like putting a flag on the substance that is irritating it. This is so the immune system knows that the allergen/antigen needs to be broken down and removed from the body by the immune system’s mast cells. The immune system’s mast cells will release histamine and cytokines which cause the classic symptoms of an allergy-like runny nose, congestion, itching, watery eyes, and more.
Vitamin C is a powerful natural antihistamine. Studies show that it lowers histamine and relieves nasal and sinus congestion. Another potent natural antihistamine is an enzyme found in pineapple called bromelain. Bromelain can decrease sinus swelling and nasal and sinus congestion.
Occasionally the fluid of the sinuses get backed up into the inner ear channel called the eustachian tube. When this happens I will have the patient place their fingers in the soft area between the jaw and the neck. If a strong muscle goes weak I will help clear this tube by inserting a gloved finger into the mouth and run it along the side of the throat. I know it sounds less than appealing but for those who have ear congestion, it can bring almost immediate relief. It is not painful and I am super quick so even children tolerate it well.
By far my favorite remedy for nasal and sinus infections is colloidal silver nasal spray. Not only is it effective against bacteria and viruses but it is also effective against fungal infections. When fluid sits too long in the sinuses it will often create a fungal problem. That is why course after course of antibiotics end up not helping. Antibiotics do not resolve fungal infections and in many cases can make the condition worse.
To use a colloidal silver nasal spray, administer two sprays in each nostril then tilt your head upside down and rotate it to one side and then the other to allow for the fluid to get into all the nooks and crannies of your nasal and sinus passages. Then tilt your head back and once again turn to the right and the left and then allow the colloidal silver to drain down your throat. Do this 5 to 7 times a day.
Lastly, a probiotic with the strains Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 and Lactobacillus Plantarum HEAL9 is great at repopulating the friendly bacteria needed to support nasal and sinus tissues. Instead of just swallowing the capsule, I recommend opening up the capsule and dumping the powder onto your tongue with a little sip of water. Swish it around for 30 seconds before swallowing.
There you have it. My magic formula for sinusitis and nasal infections. The bonus is that the stinging nettle, vitamin c, and bromelain come in a formula that I have found to be very effective called Sinuplex from Metagenics. The probiotic combination is in a formula called UltraFlora Immune Booster, also from Metagenics. You can find both on our website here.