We breathe every single minute of every day, and without breathing we cannot live.
But as is the case with all parts of the body, often people experience difficulty breathing fully, due to impaired sinuses. Also known as the paranasal sinuses, our sinuses are connected to our nasal cavities, and include the maxillary, frontal, ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses. When we have a cold or allergies, the sinuses become inflamed, the sinus tissues swell and breathing becomes congested. Virtually everybody has experienced this. Additionally, accidents involving head trauma can occlude the sinuses, and cause long-lasting or even permanent obstruction.
For relief, many people turn to over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays.
However, over-the-counter decongestants are not for everyone, and there can be some health risks involved with taking certain OTC drugs – especially nasal sprays and decongestants.
While injury-related sinus obstruction may require surgery to relieve, sinus congestion due to colds, flu, allergies or the consumption of some foods can be relieved by natural remedies.
Often, sinus irrigation with a light salt water solution is sufficient to clear up sinus congestion. This is where “neti pots” come in. These are small pots that look like miniature teapots. You usually find them at natural food stores. You simply fill the neti pot with warm salt water, stand over a sink, and pour the little pot of water up your nose. The experience isn’t that pleasant, but the results may be excellent.
Another way to go is to breathe the vapors of certain aromatic substances including menthol or eucalyptus. The Swiss company Olbas makes a couple of terrific products in this category. One, the Olbas inhaler, contains menthol, oils of peppermint, Cajeput and eucalyptol, one of the components of eucalyptus. You just apply the inhaler to your nose, take a nice breath, and the vapors open up the sinuses.
Another Olbas product, Olbas Oil, contains the same ingredients. If you are congested, fill a tub with hot water, drop 4 - 5 drops of Olbas oil in the bath, get in, and breathe the vapors. I have done this many times, and have always gotten relief.
You may also choose to use a eucalyptus-based supplement product. I like the product SinuCare by EuroPharma. The small soft gelatin capsules contain a particular extract of eucalyptus. You swallow a capsule, and over the course of half an hour or so your sinuses clear up. This product is especially good if you are trying to rid yourself of a more chronic sinus problem.
Yet another way to go is to suck on a eucalyptus-based cough drop. You will find that as you suck on them your sinuses open up. This is a quick, inexpensive way to go.
Lastly, but certainly not least, is plain peppermint tea. Peppermint contains menthol, and when you drink peppermint tea, the menthol in the tea wafts up into the sinuses and helps to decongest them. Peppermint is not as strong as eucalyptus, but it often works well.
Many people cannot tolerate dairy products, though they often don’t know it, and simply live with congested sinuses for years at a time. If you suffer chronic sinus congestion, you might want to try eliminating all milk, cheese, cream, etc for a time, to see if that makes a difference. If you find that your sinuses open up, then stay off the dairy and enjoy the breathing.
Environmental allergens including dust, yeast and molds can also contribute to sinus troubles. Inadequate air filtration in office buildings, unclean environments and “sick buildings” with mold may cause sinus troubles that don’t stop no matter what you try.
In such instances, you will need to take stronger action than drinking a cup of tea.
For most sinus troubles, nature offers simple relief, in the ways and types of products I have described above. Remember, we need to breathe, all day and all night. Keeping sinuses open and clear makes this twenty-four hour experience more enjoyable.
Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com