Itchy, watery eyes, running nose, an aching head, and sinus congestion. Sound familiar? You may be among the 37 million people in the United States who suffer from allergic rhinitis or sinusitis. Consider combating your springtime woes naturally with these time-tested self-healing techniques.
Allergens in the Air When your sinuses, the air-filled hollow cavities around your nose and nasal passages, become inflamed, fluid can accumulate and interfere with normal drainage of mucus in the sinuses. This condition is known as acute sinusitis. The result? You may have trouble breathing through your nose and feel your eyes and facial tissue swell up.
Your symptoms may include a headache, fever, a nagging cough, post-nasal drip, thick green or yellow discharge, and a feeling of facial "fullness" that gets worse when you lean forward; during a severe sinus infection, some people even experience a toothache.
This uncomfortable condition has many possible causes, including bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, allergies, or a deviated septum. Synonymous with spring, allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever, is the inflammatory result of your immune system's overreaction to allergens in the air.
Pollen is one common offender. Other allergens include dirt, pollution, animal hair, food particles cloth fibers, and mold.
Surprising Secrets for Sinus Health Here are some all-natural ways to gain freedom from sinus suffering.
- Clear your sinuses and your mind with a steamy stovetop spa. Add a few drops of wintergreen oil to a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam. Take care not to be burned by the vapor.
- Herbs and spices like ginger, scallion, basil, garlic, oregano, cayenne peppers, white pepper, horseradish and turmeric will have your sinus passageways unblocked in no time! Make a tea from any of the herbs and spices, take them in capsule form or include them in your cooking during allergy season.
- The supplement bromelain - a papaya and pineapple-based enzyme - helps reduce histamine release, the body's natural allergic response.
- Clear your nasal passageway daily for healthy, happy sinuses. Add 1 tsp of sea salt, 1 drop of oregano oil, and 1 drop of wintergreen to a cup of warm water. Fill a small-spouted squeeze bottle with this warm solution. Squirt into one nostril at a time and blow out through the nose. Alternate nostrils.
- Take a classic Chinese herbal formulation -- Allergy Tamer. It contains magnolia blossom, chrysanthemum flower, schizandra berry, Japanese apricot, kudzu root, fragrant angelica and other herbs traditionally used to relieve allergies and sinus problems.
Massage your way to sinus health These two simple self-massage practices that follow are incredibly effective for relieving sinus congestion. For both, sit at the edge of a sturdy chair with your back erect, spine stretched, and your head tilted slightly forward.
1. Inhale and gently press your forehead just inside the temples with your palms. Exhale and release. Repeat three times.
2. Cross your middle and index fingers by placing the tips of your middle fingers on top of the fingernails on your index fingers. Rub the sides of your nose 36 times in a circular motion, warming your fingers first if they're cold.
What you eat affects your sinus health Avoid the foods that produce mucous and dampness: dairy products, cold and raw foods, corn (including corn syrup), and simple sugars. Choose whole grains like quinoa, amaranth and brown rice instead of wheat, rye and barley, which are typically high allergy grains. Opt for papaya, cranberries, pear, pineapple, cherries, mango, and citrus fruits. Eat more green vegetables such as artichoke, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and spinach. Both alcohol and smoking should be avoided during a sinus flare-up as they irritate the respiratory tract and worsen nasal inflammation. Also, sinus congestion is often worse with lack of quality rest so be sure to get plenty of sleep and keep your stress level low.
Acupuncture can relieve allergies Acupuncture works by optimally balancing your body functions. In the case of allergic rhinitis it helps to naturally stimulate production of your body's own antihistamines and reduces swelling and inflammation of your sinus membrane often bringing instant relief to itching, sneezing, nasal congestion and sinus pressure. It can also work to "re-program" your immune system to lower and in many instances eliminate sensitivity to allergens entirely. Visit acupuncture.com for a national directory of licensed acupuncturists in your area.
Don't let allergies ruin your season. Tame your allergies naturally and start enjoying your life today.
Follow Dr. Maoshing Ni on Twitter: www.twitter.com/askdrmao