Sinus congestion is one of the most common chronic health conditions people face today. Up to 40 percent of the world’s population suffers from some form of allergic rhinitis, which refers to persistent inflammation of the nasal membranes. Symptoms of this malady include:
- Nasal discharge
- A stuffy or a runny nose
- An impaired sense of smell
- Facial pain and headaches
- Severe congestion
- The inability to breathe through one’s nose
What causes nasal congestion?
Scientists believe there are a number of different things that can trigger the nasal inflammation that’s responsible for sinus congestion. These causes include:
- A sensitivity to common environmental substances (such as dust or ragweed)
- An autoimmune reaction to bacteria and fungus that line the nasal passages
- The growth of nasal polyps
For most people, sinus congestion is an annoyance, but in some cases nasal infections can lead to life-threatening conditions like meningitis. Nevertheless, clogged sinuses often undermine health in indirect ways by interfering with sleep, restricting airflow, diminishing quality of life and zapping energy. Not surprisingly, over time sinus congestion can compromise the health of both your respiratory system and your immune system.
Many people turn to over-the-counter antihistamines and cold remedies to treat nasal congestion. By and large, these NSAID medications treat the symptoms of the condition rather than it’s underlying cause. Unfortunately, a number of studies have found that chronic use of these drugs is linked to hypertension, racing heartbeat, congestion rebound and a number of other health problems. As a long-term solution, they are sorely deficient.
All-natural ways to clear your sinuses
But there are a number of natural remedies that have proven effective in addressing the root causes of the mucosal inflammation that causes nasal congestion. Many of these have been used for thousands of years to relieve sinus pressure and improve respiratory health. Here’s a quick overview of some all-natural approaches that could help clear your sinuses for good:
1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is rich in a something called lauric acid. This compound has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties. To relieve congestion you can try this DIY “oil pulling” technique. It involves gently swishing about one teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes each morning.
Swish and gargle slowly, but just like mouthwash don’t try and swallow the liquid. The goal here is to allow the coconut oil to pull toxins out of your mouth, gums and lymph glands. This can improve your lymphatic circulation, which should help neutralize microorganism while draining mucosal passages. Adding a few drops of essential peppermint oil to the coconut oil rinse can improve mucosal circulation as well. Try doing this detox routine once a day before you brush your teeth.
2. Neti pot
A neti pot is an Ayurvedic technique that’s been used successfully for thousands of years to irrigate and cleanse the nasal passages. Studies show that this method is both safe and very effective in relieving sinus pressure and congestion. You can click here for more information on neti pots and how to use them.
Spices are superfoods that are loaded with phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Some of the most beneficial spices you can use to improve sinus health include cayenne pepper, mustard, horseradish, garlic, turmeric and ginger.
As you might expect, “hot” spices tend to work best when it comes to decongestion. They work by helping to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation, which aids mucus drainage. Spices contain antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal agents, as well as anti-inflammatory compounds. Herbal teas (particularly peppermint, eucalyptus and ginger) can also help open up and cleanse your sinus passages. Add some fresh lemon juice and a touch of honey to your brew and you’ll be getting immune-boosting vitamin C and antibacterial propolis respectively. In fact, studies show that honey is very soothing for both seasonal allergies and sinusitis.
4. Drink up
Make sure you are drinking lots of water, which can bolster your immune system, loosen mucus and help your body flush toxins from your system.
5. Eat pineapples
This tropical fruit is rich in bromelain, which is a compound that reduces swelling and inflammation. According to Dr. Robert Graham, “Bromelain appears to be beneficial and helps reduce swelling in the nasal passages.”
Relief can come in a variety of forms
Sinus congestion can be due to a multiplicity of factors. Relief can come in a variety of forms too. For example, exercise, steam baths and air purifiers can also play a role in promoting sinus health. Avoiding inflammatory and immune-compromising foods can also be key. If you are suffering from allergies you’ll probably want to stay away from or limit:
- Inflammation-promoting processed foods
- Refined sugars (which feed bad bacteria)
- Trans fats and fried foods
- Dairy and fermented cheeses
On the other hand, there are a lot of all-natural remedies that can help you breathe easier. For more ideas on sinus relief, you can click here.
— Scott O’Reilly