Breathing is less of a chore when air can flow freely through your nasal passages. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Rule out allergies
Make an appointment with an allergist, who can help determine if your sinusitis is allergy-related
Discover the benefits of bromelain
Try taking 3,000 MCU of this enzyme, derived from pineapple, three times a day for relief from acute sinusitis
Try nasal irrigation
Prepare a warm, salt-water solution in a special ceramic pot known as a “neti lota” pot and pour it through your nose to relieve your sinuses
About This Condition
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus passages.
There are four pairs of sinuses in the human skull that help circulate moist air throughout the nasal
passages. The common cold is the most prevalent predisposing factor
to sinusitis. Hay fever, other environmental triggers, food allergens, and dental infections
can also lead to sinusitis.
Acute sinusitis typically causes symptoms of nasal congestion and a thick yellow or green discharge. Other symptoms include tenderness and pain over the sinuses, frontal headaches, and sometimes chills, fever, and pressure in the area of the sinuses. Chronic sinusitis differs slightly, in that symptoms can be milder and may only include postnasal drip, bad breath, and an irritating dry cough.
A warm salt-water solution poured through the nose may offer some relief from both allergic and infectious sinusitis. A ceramic pot, known as a “neti lota” pot, makes this procedure easy. Alternatively, a small watering pot with a tapered spout may be used. Fill the pot with warm water and add enough salt so the solution tastes like tears. Stand over a sink, tilt your head far to one side so your ear is parallel to the floor, and pour the solution into the upper nostril, allowing it to drain through the lower nostril. Repeat on the other side. This procedure may be performed two or three times a day.
Some practitioners may treat sinus problems using various manipulation techniques. A single case study described treatment of chronic sinusitis and sinus headaches with spinal manipulation, massage, and a technique called: “bilateral nasal specific” (BNS). The BNS procedure involves inflating small balloons within the nasal passages, creating a change of pressure and, theoretically, a realignment of nasal bones. Initial treatment of a 41-year-old woman with manipulation and massage for approximately one year had resulted in only temporary, mild relief. Her headaches resolved immediately following each treatment that included BNS, followed by increased amounts of postnasal discharge and an improved sense of smell. At the end of two additional months of care, her headaches were reduced significantly in intensity and frequency.1
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
Uncover food allergies
Work with a knowledgeable practitioner to find out if food allergens may contribute to your sinus congestion.
Food allergy appears to play an important role in many cases of rhinitis, which is related to sinus congestion. In a study of children under one year of age with allergic rhinitis and/or asthma, 91% had a significant improvement in symptoms while following an allergy-elimination diet.2 In the experience of one group of doctors, food allergy was the most common cause of chronic rhinitis.3 Two other researchers have found food allergy to be a contributing factor to allergic rhinitis in 25%4 and 39%5 of cases, respectively. Food allergies are best identified by means of an allergy-elimination diet, which should be supervised by a doctor.
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
3,000 MCU three times per day
Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple, has been reported to relieve symptoms of acute sinusitis. In a double-blind trial, 87% of patients who took bromelain reported good to excellent results compared with 68% of those taking placebo.6 Other double-blind research has shown that bromelain reduces symptoms of sinusitis.7, 8 Research with bromelain for sinusitis generally uses the enteric-coated form. Enteric-coating prevents the stomach juices from partially destroying the bromelain. Most commercially available bromelain products today are not enteric-coated, and it is not known how the potency of these different products compares.
Studies conducted in the past have used bromelain compounds with therapeutic strengths measured in units called Rorer units (RU). Potency of contemporary bromelain compounds are quantified in either MCUs (milk clotting units) or GDUs (gelatin dissolving units); one GDU equals 1.5 MCU. One gram of bromelain standardized to 2,000 MCU would be approximately equal to 1 gram with 1,200 GDU of activity, or 8 grams with 100,000 RU of activity. Physicians sometimes recommend 3,000 MCU taken three times per day for several days, followed up by 2,000 MCU per day.9 Much of the research conducted has used smaller amounts likely to be the equivalent (in modern units of activity) of approximately 500 MCU taken four times a day.
Take an amount containing 200 mg of cineole three times daily
The main ingredient of eucalyptus oil, cineole, has been studied as a treatment for sinusitis. In a double-blind study of people with acute sinusitis that did not require treatment with antibiotics, those given cineole orally in the amount of 200 mg 3 times per day recovered significantly faster than those given a placebo.10 Eucalyptus oil is also often used in a steam inhalation to help clear nasal and sinus congestion. Eucalyptus oil is said to function in a fashion similar to menthol by acting on receptors in the nasal mucous membranes, leading to a reduction in the symptoms of nasal stuffiness.11
Refer to label instructions
Caution: Do not use eucalyptus oil internally without supervision by a healthcare professional. As little as 3.5 ml of the oil taken internally has proven fatal.
The main ingredient of eucalyptus oil, cineole, has been studied as a treatment for sinusitis. In a double-blind study of people with acute sinusitis that did not require treatment with antibiotics, those given cineole orally in the amount of 200 mg 3 times per day recovered significantly faster than those given a placebo.12 Eucalyptus oil is also often used in a steam inhalation to help clear nasal and sinus congestion. Eucalyptus oil is said to function in a fashion similar to menthol by acting on receptors in the nasal mucous membranes, leading to a reduction in the symptoms of nasal stuffiness.13
Gentian Root, Primrose Flowers, Sorrel Herb, Elder Flowers, and European Vervain
Refer to label instructions
One of the most popular supportive treatments for both acute and chronic sinusitis in Germany is an herbal combination containing gentian root, primrose flowers, sorrel herb, elder flowers, and European vervain.14 The combination has been found to be useful in helping to promote mucus drainage (“mucolytic” action) from the sinuses.15 The combination is typically used together with antibiotics for treating acute sinusitis.
Refer to label instructions
Horseradish is another herb used traditionally as a mucus-dissolver.16 One half to one teaspoon (3–5 grams) of the freshly grated root can be eaten three times per day. Horseradish tincture is also available. One quarter to one half teaspoon (2 to 3 ml) can be taken three times per day.
900 mg per day of diosmin and 100 mg per day of hesperidin
Wood betony (Stachys betonica) is used in traditional European herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory remedy for people with sinusitis. Modern clinical trials have not been conducted to confirm this use of wood betony.
Find Drug Interaction Information
1. Folweiler DS, Lynch OT. Nasal specific as part of a chiropractic approach to chronic sinusitis and sinus headaches. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1995;18:38–41.
2. Ogle KA, Bullock JD. Children with allergic rhinitis and/or bronchial asthma treated with elimination diet: a five-year follow-up. Ann Allergy 1980;44:273–8.
3. Rowe AH, Rowe A Jr. Perennial nasal allergy due to food sensitization. J Asthma Res 1965;3:141–54.
4. Derlacki EL. Food sensitization as a cause of perennial nasal allergy. Ann Allergy 1955;13:682–9.
5. Davison HM. The role of food sensitivity in nasal allergy. Ann Allergy 1951;9:568–72.
6. Ryan R. A double blind clinical evaluation of bromelains in the treatment of acute sinusitis. Headache 1967;7:13–7.
7. Taub SJ. The use of bromelains in sinusitis: a double-blind evaluation. EENT Monthly 1967;46(3):361–5.
8. Seltzer AP. Adjunctive use of bromelains in sinusitis: a controlled study. EENT Monthly 1967;46(10):1281–8.
9. Gaby AR. The story of bromelain! Nutr Healing 1995;May:3, 4, 11.
10. Kehrl W, Sonnemann U, Dethlefsen U. Therapy for acute nonpurulent rhinosinusitis with cineole: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Laryngoscope2004;114:738–42.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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