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Beat Sinus CongestionMarch 17, 2007 | Sara Thyr, N.D.
The late winter blues… everyone with continual stuffy noses and painful sinus congestion. Before calling in for antibiotics, try these simple tips for releasing the strong-hold that snot has on your head.
Do regular sinus lavage with a neti pot. Most health food stores carry the neti pot, which comes with simple directions on how to use it. Basically you dissolve ¼ to ½ a teaspoon of sea salt in warm water and poor it into your sinus. Picture leaning over the sink with a small teapot, turn your head to one side and plug the lower nostril, poor some of the saline water into the upper nostril and let it trickle down. Release the lower nostril and the fluid should drain out. Along with salt, I often also add ½ teaspoon of xylitol, which has antibacterial properties (as well as being a good sugar replacement). I recommend some herbal teas too, such as Yogi tea’s “Breath Easy” or some that I will create for specific needs in my office. You should still add the salt to the tea before using it for sinus lavage, to keep it from stinging and help to tonify the tissues.
Get a humidifier or vaporizer for your home and work space. The cold dry air of winter keeps your mucus membranes wanting to stay moist. The way they do that is by producing more mucus, which in the case of your sinuses, may become lodged there. Some units will allow for using oils such as eucalyptus or other essential oils that will also help to unclog your nasal passages.
Olbas Oil – made in Switzerland and found at many health food stores – can be rubbed right onto your chest. This is good to do before bed to keep the sinus passages clear when you are lying down. They also make a bath soak, which is wonderful for sore muscles as well as sinuses. Add it to a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes, particularly before bed. Not only will it clear your sinuses, it aids in a good nights sleep and helps to draw toxins from muscles.
The supplement NAC (N-Acetyl-cysteine) has long historical use for breaking up mucus and clearing sinus passages. A dosage of 500-600 mg two-three times daily is usually sufficient. Be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before adding any new supplements to make sure there is no interaction between that and a medication or supplement you may already be taking.
Sinus infections commonly develop after the initial cold symptoms have begun to dissipate, due to the retaining of congestion in the sinuses. Be sure to take immune supportive herbs and nutrients such as vitamin C.
Fear not, spring is surely right around the corner. If nothing else works, the spring will not only defrost the ground but loosen the congestion in your head.