The sinuses are air-filled cavities that help regulate and add moisture to the air inhaled through the nasal passages. They can be affected by external factors like weather, pollution, and allergens. When the sinuses are irritated and swollen, they cannot drain properly causing mucus and other fluids to back up into the nose. This results in congestion, headaches, and other sinus issues.
It is estimated that 30 million adult Americans suffer from sinusitis every year. Many children also experience sinus problems as well. Fortunately, nature provides a wide variety of herbs that help with congestion and other sinus problems.
For generations, people have turned to the plant Andrographis as a treatment for minor illnesses and chronic inflammation. It was traditionally used to treat upper respiratory tract infections such as colds, flu, tonsillitis, and sore throats. This ancient herb is still widely utilized in modern Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of respiratory tract infections.
Thanks to its effectiveness against infections, Andrographis has become increasingly popular in Western countries for treating the common cold.
Andrographis is available both as a tea and in capsule form. You can also mix it with water or juice. However, some people may find it challenging to ingest liquid preparations of Andrographis due to its extreme bitterness.
Chamomile is an herb of the aster family that works as a natural sinus decongestant. The dried flowers are used in making teas, tinctures, ointments, and infusion oils. Its flower heads contain many terpenoids and flavonoids which are responsible for most of their medicinal properties such as anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects on the body. This makes it a natural relief for sinusitis.
When brewed into a tea, chamomile has a calming effect and can even be used as a sleeping aid. The tea is commonly used to help clear up nasal congestion and treat itchy and sore throats. In addition, inhaling its vapor can warm and moisturize the respiratory airways, easing the symptoms associated with sinusitis.
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce mucus and reduce swelling in the body including swollen nasal membranes. It has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of the common cold and other respiratory issues, including sinusitis. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system and fight free radicals.
Fresh ginger, water, and lemon juice are all you need to know how to clear sinuses naturally. To prepare ginger tea, simply slice the ginger thinly and boil it with the rest of the ingredients. Alternatively, you can purchase ground ginger and brew it with hot water. Consuming ginger tea is one way to support your body’s natural defenses against viruses that might cause cold symptoms. Besides clearing up your sinuses, the tea can soothe an itchy throat and relieve nausea and vomiting.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has long recognized ginseng's medicinal properties. Multiple studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginseng are useful in treating the symptoms of a stuffy nose, runny or itchy eyes, a sore throat, and a cough. Korean red ginseng specifically has been shown to have anti-allergic properties that can aid with allergic rhinitis.
Slices of dried root, powder, liquid, lozenges, and tea are just some of the many forms of ginseng sold across the United States. If you decide to use ginseng to prevent colds, take no more than 100–300 milligrams (mg) once daily for no more than 12 weeks. Too much of the herb can cause insomnia as well as headaches, digestive problems, and discomfort.
Because of its hypoglycemic effects, ginseng should not be taken in conjunction with diabetes drugs. It's also not recommended for people using antidepressants or immunosuppressants because of the potential for negative interactions.
Astragalus has long been utilized in traditional Chinese medicine as a means of stimulating the immune system, reducing inflammation, and delaying the effects of aging. Astragalus can help your body fight infections by boosting your immune system. It may also help reduce inflammation throughout your body, including within your nasal passages as an effective and natural means of treating allergic rhinitis and sinusitis.
Astragalus is typically prepared as a decoction in Traditional Chinese Medicine by boiling the roots in water and combining them with other herbs, such as ginseng. But it can also be taken as a capsule, liquid, or tablet as most modern health food stores carry astragalus in the form of a supplement.
There is insufficient scientific data to establish an appropriate dose of astragalus. To minimize any adverse reactions, it is best to speak with your healthcare professional and be sure to let them know about any other herbs or supplements you are taking.
Thyme has been used for thousands of years to flavor foods, but it also has many health benefits. As a natural expectorant, thyme acts as an antiseptic and aids in the expulsion of mucus, helps to clear nasal congestion, and soothes coughing. This Mediterranean herb also aids in treating conditions such as bronchitis and other respiratory-related illnesses.
As one of the best sinus decongestants, thyme can be used in different forms: as a dried herb, oil or essential oil, tea, or tincture. It is popularly used in steam inhalation, a natural way of relieving congestion that opens up airways in the nose, throat, and lungs.
Another popular way to take it is as tea. Thyme tea is excellent for soothing a cough and clearing the airways. The fact that it tastes good — especially when combined with honey and lemon — also helps. For 1 cup, you only need 1 tablespoon of dried, fresh thyme. Up to 1-3 cups may be consumed each day.
Nettles is a well-known herb for sinus health. In addition to being high in vitamins and nutrients, nettles have antihistamine properties which help to reduce inflammation in the body. The plant functions as an antihistamine by lowering the body's production of histamine. This makes it effective in relieving allergic rhinitis and hay fever symptoms.
Its astringent qualities and peppery flavor dry up the sinuses and reduce congestion brought on by sneezing and allergies. Since nettle reduces inflammation in the sinuses and the severity of allergic reactions, it can also be taken as a preventative measure.
If you suffer from allergies, try taking two to three 300 mg nettle leaf capsules or pills, or 2 to 4 ml tincture, three times a day. No proper dosage has been established yet for children, so it’s best to consult with your doctor.
Echinacea is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family and is native to eastern and central North America. In addition to relieving stuffiness, sneezing, and sinus pressure, it is commonly used as a cold medication and as a preventative measure.
Its effectiveness is debatable as studies have mixed results. When taken at the first sign of cold symptoms, echinacea significantly shortened the duration of symptoms in a trial involving 80 individuals (67% vs. a placebo). Meanwhile, research involving 2458 people found that taking echinacea extract reduced the likelihood of participants experiencing recurrent respiratory tract infections or developing complications.
While echinacea does appear to lessen the frequency and duration of colds, additional research is needed before its use for cold prevention and treatment becomes standard practice.
The proper dosage will vary with both the product and the problem being treated. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor to determine the right product and dose.
If you suffer from sinusitis or allergies, you may find comfort and relief taking herbal remedies and supplements. If used sensibly and proactively, they can also boost your immune system and prevent the onset of symptoms. However, before trying any new treatment, it is essential that you consult a specialist.