Fed up with constant sinus problems? Sick of stockpiling decongestants and antibiotics? Tell me about it. I’ve tried everything short of spraying Lysol up my nose. Nothing smells of desperation quite like risking permanent damage to one’s olfactory organ for the remote possibility of eliminating sinus pressure. Every year, once my allergies are in full bloom, I’m back in the throes my annual six-month sinus infection. Oh, how I love a tall glass of pounding headache in the morning with a shot of facial pain. Not so much. The good news is that I found a combination of remedies that finally kicked my chronic sinusitis to the curb.
No worries, I was only kidding about the Lysol. However, grapefruit seed extract (GSE) nasal spray is no joke. In fact, I believe this is the single most beneficial preventative and curative measure I have taken. GSE is a strong natural antioxidant and antibiotic. After using this for several days, all of a sudden—OH EM GEE—I can breathe!
Clear the Air
Keep in mind this simple mathematical equation: dried-out sinuses + inhalation of germs = chronic stuffy nose and headache. Multiply that by facial pain and now you are the product of a huge sum of nasty disposition. Invest in an air purifier, particularly for your bedroom, and make sure it contains a HEPA filter. (I also have a small unit which uses UV light to sanitize the air. It’s near my desk at work—can’t hurt, right?) A humidifier in your bedroom for dryer months is a must. Mix tea tree oil, lavender oil and eucalyptus oil with apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to kill mold and germs in the air.
Boost Your Immune System
A good-quality probiotic should be an everyday staple for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it aids your immune system. Make sure you put vitamin D in your daily pill organizer next to the multivitamin and vitamin C for the same reasons. Determined to win the battle against my chronic sinus infections, I now ingest many herbal supplements to help strengthen my immune system. After trial and error, I have come to rely on these, my new best friends: goldenseal, elderberry, garlic, oregano, and astragalus. Warning: buy only reputable brands. Otherwise, you might as well toss your money in the trash can alongside the insurmountable number of tissues you’ll undoubtedly use while in the midst of yet another sinus infection. Of course, you already know not to begin taking any herbal or vitamin supplements without getting your doctor’s OK.
Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, is touted for its strong anti-inflammatory properties, particularly for the sinus. Many people are aware of the numerous health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids such as promoting healthy eyes, heart and joints. Add soothing inflamed sinus cavities to its long list of attributes. Research the benefits of turmeric and ginger. These have become essential regulars in my daily supplement regime. Bonus: ginger is purported to help prevent memory problems; if this is true, at least you won’t forget to take the rest of your supplements.
I have disciplined myself to drink a nutrient-rich super-green cocktail every day. Okay, it’s actually more like a river-silt flavored super-healthy drink which deceitfully boasts a pleasant berry taste. Nevertheless, it give me me energy and makes my skin look maaaaaahvelous. I now almost like the taste–almost. Stay away from mucous-producing dairy products but be cognizant of getting enough calcium. Almond milk is a tasty alternative. It is high in calcium and vitamin E and low in sugar. Speaking of sugar, some experts suggest that eliminating it from your diet, along with grain products and caffeine, will cut down on mucous production. Quite frankly, there is no way I can possibly cut sugar, grain or caffeine out of my diet entirely; I just mention it in case your resolve is greater than mine. Try drinking 2T of apple cider vinegar in an 8 oz. glass of water at least 3 times a day at the first sign of symptoms. Apple cider vinegar thins the mucous and is antibacterial and antifungal. Honey and garlic also have antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties.
Stick to the Basics
You need to keep up on the basic preventatives. It’s important to keep your sinuses moist with saline nasal spray. Warm compresses are comforting for facial pain and help open the passageways. I can’t say enough about the positive results I’ve gotten from NeilMed Sinus Rinse with a drop of tea tree oil. This method is less awkward than the neti pot. Prescription steroid nasal sprays and daily allergy medications are helpful preventative aids if your chronic sinusitis is a result of allergies. Steaming the sinuses is soothing and helps relieve headaches. (I love the compact personal steamers sold in drug stores).
Allergy Proof Your Home
Not only frequent dusting and vacuuming but also regular cleanings of the HVAC system and wall unit air conditioners are super important. Keep your linens and mattress cover clean and dust-mite free. To be honest, I have little personal knowledge of whether regular and meticulous cleanings of my home would benefit my sinuses. If I miraculously develop the gumption to give it a try, I’ll report back. What remedies or rituals have worked for you?