SINUSITIS - A CHINESE MEDICINE APPROACH
Tracey-Ann Brown, Contributor
Chronic sinusitis is a common condition in which the sinus cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed and swollen, causing mucus to build up.
Common symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion and difficulty breathing through the nose.
- Pain, tenderness and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
- Drainage of a thick yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat.
Fortunately, Chinese medicine offers a number of avenues for sinus relief.
How does acupuncture help sinusitis?
In the treatment of sinusitis, acupuncture points are selected which boost the body's natural defence system, preventing susceptibility to the many environmental elements which may trigger the flare up of sinus infections, all while supporting the respiratory system and drying mucous in the head.
Acupuncture points selected are primarily on the face, back and hands and are gently stimulated by the insertion of very thin needles with minimal to no discomfort. Suction cups are often placed on the points on the back to create a more vigorous treatment; this is called cupping. Additionally, points on the ear may be added which help with the treatment of allergies.
In addition to acupuncture, herbal prescriptions are usually given. These herbs are used primarily to dry excess mucous 'cold' and reduce or eliminate excessive mucous production in the sinuses. They are used to address sinus-related symptoms such as: nasal congestion, puffiness and heaviness in the face, frequent ear infections, post-nasal drips, headaches, watery eyes and phlegm expectoration.
Home remedies - STEAM INHALATION
1. Simply fill a small basin with four to six cups warm water.
2. Add two to three drops eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, basil, tea tree, lavender, marjoram or peppermint essential oil or the fresh herb.
3. Hold the face over the basin approximately an arm's length away and place a towel over the head to prevent the escape of the aromatic vapours. Be careful not to bring your face too close to the water.
4. Close your eyes and inhale deeply for five to 10 minutes.
This can be done once a day. Caution, eucalyptus steam inhalations should be avoided by persons with: heart conditions, central nervous system disorders and pregnant women. Children and elderly people should exercise caution.
Face massages can also be done to relieve sinus congestion.
As with any health-care programme to resolve disease, diet and lifestyle play an important role.
Some useful foods to include in the diet or increase the intake of are: celery, scallion, onions, garlic, corn, pumpkin, vinegar, papaya as they help to resolve phlegm in the body. Drinking lots of distilled water also helps to resolve phlegm drainage.
Avoid/minimise the following:
- Excessive amounts of raw and/or cold foods.
- Mammal meats, eggs and dairy products.
- Oily and fatty foods
- Simple sugars from sweeteners. Raw honey or stevia leaf is a good alternative.
- Soy products: tofu, soy sauce, miso, soy
- Highly processed foods
- Environmental elements which trigger sinuses (for example, polluted air and perfumes).
Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner, herbalist and doctor of acupuncture; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.