Natural Remedies for Sinus Problems

This article was featured as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.

One of my first clients, in the early 90s, was a man with sinus problems. That wasn’t why he came to me. I don’t even remember what the issue was that brought him into my office. He considered his chronic sinus issues a fact of life: every couple years he had surgery to remove polyps, which didn’t really give him relief, but made his doctor feel better. He’d had six of these surgeries by the time he came to me. We addressed the issue primarily with homeopathy, and he was amazed at how much better he felt.  Over the two decades since, it seems sinus problems have become ever more common.

Most acute sinus infections are viral. Are you surprised? According to guidelines from the Infectious Disease Society of America, 90-98% are not bacterial, but viral, meaning that antibiotics don’t help. Yet sinus infections are the fifth most common reason for antibiotic prescriptions. Antibiotics may even worsen the condition, suppressing the immune system, weakening the gut, and increasing antibiotic resistance.

In my experience, chronic sinus problems are usually caused by either food sensitivities, or mold exposure, or both. I’ve seem many people eliminate years of sinus symptoms by removing a food that was toxic to them, often gluten, dairy, eggs, or soy.  And so many people have had to deal with mold, thanks to Irene and Sandy. When inhaled, mold can make a home in nasal passages, and cause long-term problems.


Salt Inhaler: this is a simple and safe device that has brought relief to many with upper respiratory problems. It is comparable to inhaling warm salt air, inexpensive, low tech. I offer these for sale in my office.

Neti Pot: Use sterile or distilled water, not tap water. Add good quality Himalyan or sea salt, xylitol, a pinch of baking soda. There are also sprays and inhalers that contain xylitol, which is an anti-microbial (and a healthy natural sweetener).  Start with just a pinch of xylitol (it can be a very strong agent) and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and baking soda.

Propolis: Via spray or vaporizer, propolis has demonstrated healing properties. A propolis vaporizer can eliminate mold and other microbes from a room, as well as in nasal passages, and as a bonus, smells lovely. I have had raves from families using propolis vaporizers, both for adults and kids. I offer several models in my office. I also have many different forms of propolis to use internally.

Manuka honey, dissolved in some warm water or saline (see above) can be used in nasal passages to address sinus issues. Use 1 teaspoon dissolved in water.

Olive leaf has excellent anti-viral properties, and can be taken as capsules.

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