The Misery of Sinusitis If you’ve ever suffered through sinus congestion or, even worse, a sinus infection, you’ve probably wondered why these cavities are there in our heads.
Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis. It turns out our sinuses are necessary:
They warm and moisturize the air on its way to our lungs.
They allow us to balance our big-brained heads on our relatively meager necks so we can walk upright on two feet. These empty spaces in our skulls lighten the weight of our heavy heads so we’re not like the rhinoceros, whose head is so weighty the animal often keeps it resting on the ground.
There are four sets of sinuses behind our faces. Here’s where they’re located:
Locations of sinuses. And here’s a diagram of what they look like when they become inflamed with mucus building up inside them:
Front view of face with sinuses visible. Sinus lining is red and inflamed, and mucus is building up inside Having had chronic sinus inflammation, congestion and infections for many, many years, I can attest to their often making me feel like that rhino – feeling like my head was too heavy to hold up. Other symptoms were – having to breathe through my mouth all the time making it hard to eat and sleep well, having a constantly scratchy throat and uneasy stomach from post nasal drip, suffering from sour breath, feeling slightly dizzy from being unable to get enough air, feeling physically depressed from being exhausted all the time. When I finally figured out how to correct my unbalanced gut bacteria and fix my allergies, that all mercifully stopped.
Not me – but how I feel now that I don’t have allergies and my sinuses aren’t inflamed. That’s the background. The purpose of this post is to share a nifty suggestion for resolving sinusitis or a sinus infection – naturally, without the antibiotics doctors usually prescribe. Each time you take an antibiotic, you’re killing off many of the good, probiotic bacteria in your gut – bacteria which the body requires to stay healthy. And these antibiotics often don’t even address the sinus infection.
Since most sinus infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria, taking antibiotics to treat them is unwise. THE NATURAL AND EFFECTIVE SINUS REMEDY (Pope, 2010) (Saunders, no date)
Empty the contents of a probiotic capsule into a ceramic neti pot or nasal spray bottle.
Add warm filtered water.
Add a bit of sea salt (about 1/8 teaspoon) and baking soda (if desired).
Mix ingredients together carefully with a spoon or shake nasal spray bottle after screwing on the lid.
Neti Pot Method: While standing over a sink or in the shower, insert the nozzle of the neti pot into one nostril, and make sure there is a good seal between the nozzle and your nostril. Lean forward, close the back of your throat and breathe through your mouth. Then allow the contents of the neti pot to enter one nasal opening and rinse through to exit out the other nasal opening. This may take up to two or three minutes if your nasal passages are congested. Repeat on the other side. Try to avoid swallowing the water that goes into the nostrils and blow your nose when finished.
Spray Bottle Method: Insert the nozzle of the spray bottle into one nostril while covering the other nostril. While compressing the pump on the nasal spray bottle, inhale deeply. Repeat several times on both sides. Be prepared to spit out anything left after inhaling the mist.
When finished, wash out the neti pot or spray bottle with warm water and soap and allow to dry before using again.
Probiotics can be used not just as a natural sinus remedy. They can also be used to prevent sinus infections in the first place. Click here for an article which describes this method. (Pope, 2013)
Using a Nasal Spray Bottle.
Using a Neti Pot.
This is Raine Saunders’ report of her experience using probiotics to vanquish a raging, seemingly intractable sinus infection:
Now here’s the most amazing part – at bedtime, I emptied the contents of a probiotics capsule into the neti-pot and proceeded to pour the warm water, salt, baking soda and probiotic mixture into my nasal passages. Immediately I felt a terrible burning sensation that went on for a good ten minutes. It was quite painful, but as it subsided, I was filled with a peaceful calm, and then retired to bed and had a good night sleep. The next morning, I awoke and was surprised to find that even as time went on, my head remained pain-free throughout the day. The horrible “ice pick” sinus pressure which was normally in full-swing by 10 a.m. was completely gone. Whenever I felt like I was getting a slight ache, I performed the facial massage to my temples and sinuses I had done the day before. I also used the probiotics in my neti pot a few more times over the next five days, along with my Whole Body Defense from Gaia Herbs, and some grapefruit seed extract (about 5 drops in 6 ounces of water twice a day). I was cured! I really believe those probiotics did some magical trick – although I’m sure some of the other things I did helped as well – because the first time I did it, after the burning came and went, the pain was completely gone and has not returned since. (Saunders, no date)
So be prepared for a “terrible burning sensation in your sinuses and nose” if you try this. I can only say that, if I get another sinus infection (which is unlikely given how strong my gut microbiome is now), I would prefer choose 10 minutes of discomfort over the damage done by antibiotics – especially knowing the probiotics treatment is likely to work!)
PROBIOTICS TO KEEP SINUSES – AND YOUR WHOLE BODY – HEALTHY
Keeping your immune system balanced and strong so you don’t develop sinusitis or an acute sinus infection is clearly the way to go. Getting enough and the right variety of prebiotics and probiotics – from your diet and from high quality supplements – is important to achieve that goal.
As is true everywhere in the body, the nasal passages are colonized by micro-organisms. When the balance of beneficial flora to harmful flora is out of balance, problems can develop. A study showed that drinking kefir, a fermented milk drink loaded with healthy probiotics, decreased the levels of pathogenic bacteria in the nasal passages. Other research indicates probiotics are helpful for reducing congestion and the other symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Chris Kresser points out that this is “especially interesting because in Chinese medicine, they believe sinus issues are almost always related to the gut.” (Kresser, no date)
For more information on prebiotics, probiotics,and kefir, see:
PREBIOTICS & PROBIOTICS
The most important part of your immune system lives inside your gut – your gut microbiome, consisting of billions of micro-organisms. If your gut microbiome is balanced and healthy, then you probably are too.
WELL-REGARDED BRANDS OF PROBIOTICS
Probiotics recommended by Chris Kresser, a practitioner of functional and integrative medicine and a licensed acupuncturist. His informative website is http://chriskresser.com/
This information is from his post 5 Uncommon Uses for Probiotics. (Kresser, no date)
JULY 12, 2013 AT 8:33 AM Chris Kresser I recommend Prescript Assist, which is a soil-based organism probiotic, for most people. http://store.chriskresser.com/products/prescript-assist-probiotic Klaire Therbiotic Complete is another good choice, but should be avoided if you have SiBO or histamine intolerance. Jarro-Dophilus is good, but it has a lot of fillers and unnecessary ingredients. Sarah Pope, whose website is called The Healthy Home Economist, recommends this high quality, therapeutic strength, multi-strain probiotic: Bio-Kult – Probiotic Multi-Strain Formula Her entire list of recommendations for Supplements & Superfoods, and many other products, can be found here.
See SINUSES for more information.
Hardin, J.R. (1/1/2014). Super Immunity. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/super-immunity
Hardin, J.R. (1/11/2014). Sinuses. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/sinuses
Hardin, J.R. (1/17/2914). Kefir. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/kefir
Hardin, J.R. (2/5/2014). Prebiotics and Probiotics. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/pre-and-pro-biotics
Kresser, C. (no date). 5 Uncommon Uses for Probiotics. See: http://chriskresser.com/5-uncommon-uses-for-probiotics
Pope, S. (2010). Natural and Effective Sinus Infection Remedy. The HealthyHomeEconomist.com. See: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/heal-sinus-infections-with-no-antibiotics-really/
Pope, S. (2012). Shopping List. HealthyHomeEconomist.com. See: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/resources/#supplements
Pope, S. (2013). Stop Sinus Problems Fast with This Easy Tip. The HealthyHomeEconomist.com. See: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/discourage-holiday-sinus-problems-with-this-easy-tip/
Saunders, R. (no date). How I Cured A Raging Sinus Infection Naturally, With No Drugs. Agricultural Society. See: http://agriculturesociety.com/alternative-medicine-and-treatment/how-i-cured-a-raging-sinus-infection-naturally-with-no-drugs/
© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Comments submitted prior to 8/25/2021
A nice post, brought to my attention by a friend, on everything you might want to know about neti pots and why using one regularly is so much better for you than taking decongestant medicines: http://articles.healthrealizations.com/AskDrSoram/2014/09/22/Stuffed-Up-Sinuses-Congestion-Headaches.aspx?SubscriberEmailfirstname.lastname@example.org
Most sinus infections are not caused by viruses. “Buzzle.com” isn’t exactly the best source for medical information. It’s been known for 20 years that most sinus problems are caused by fungi. Use Google Scholar next time…
In reply to Kelly
It’s my understanding that sinus infections can be viral, bacterial or fungal – or a combination of those.