We all know the symptoms: stuffy nose, pressure and pain in the sinuses, post-nasal drip, irritated throat and coughing, clogged ears, and that foggy, heavy, can’t-taste-or-smell feeling in the head (one person described to me as having his brain sealed in a tupperware). Sinus infections can start with a stubborn cold or allergies, and in bad cases can go on for months. Even antibiotics often don’t help.
Acupuncture can help drain the sinuses by loosening mucus and stimulating movement in the head. More importantly, it can strengthen the body’s ability to dissolve phlegm, fight infection, and rebuild strength. Points are chosen to relieve sinus pressure, strengthen the spleen to reduce phlegm, and boost the immune system. As needed, treatment can also be geared toward symptoms such as sore throat, headache, cough, or chest congestion. Taking herbs alongside acupuncture treatment can speed the process considerably.
If you are having sinus problems, it can help to avoid sugar and dairy, which tend to produce more phlegm, and drink plenty of fluids to keep secretions thinner and more able to drain. You may also want to try using a nasal rinse, or neti pot; they are sold at many health food stores, or you can buy one at the front desk at Cambridge Health Associates.
You can also make a tea that helps the body resolve phlegm and clear the head: Boil a large piece of fresh or dried tangerine peel (or orange peel, or clementine) in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, add 1 bag of mint tea and 1 bag green tea, and steep for 3-5 minutes. Add honey if desired (honey is especially helpful for a dry, scratchy throat). It’s pretty tasty, and you can make a larger batch and reheat throughout the day.
The best way to prevent sinusitis, bronchitis, and other such nasty developments is to take good care of your immune system, and nip colds in the bud if you do get one. For suggestions on how to do this, check out the other articles in the “respiratory” category. You’ll find information on avoiding colds, boosting your immune system, and using herbs to strengthen your resistance, as well as recipes for herbal medicinal teas you can make at home to treat colds in the early stages.