Many herbal and nutritional applications can be used to lessen symptoms of sinusitis.
The sinuses are small pockets of air located in between the eyes and behind the forehead, nose, and cheekbones. The sinuses and nasal passages are lined with mucosal membranes that when become inflamed, is known as sinusitis. They’re usually empty and contain a small layer of protective mucus to trap bacteria and keep the area moisturised. They also help humidify the air you breathe.
The terms “sinusitis” and “sinus infection” are sometimes used interchangeably.
The symptoms of sinusitis are similar to those of a common cold. They may include:
Decreased olfactory senses (sense of smell)
Blocked or runny nose
Weakened immune system
A history of allergies
Colds and other upper respiratory tract infections, which can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi
Nasal polyps, growths inside the nose
Acute sinusitis may last up to 4 weeks. It’s typically a viral infection brought on by the common cold and can cause symptoms that typically last up to 10 days.
Subacute sinusitis symptoms can last up to 12 weeks. This is usually due to seasonal allergies or bacterial infections.
Recurrent acute sinusitis involves at least four episodes of acute sinusitis over the course of 1 year. Each episode of acute sinusitis must last at least 7 days.
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis last for more than 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis symptoms are often less severe than acute sinusitis symptoms, fever is rare. Bacterial infection may be to blame in these cases. Additionally, chronic sinusitis commonly occurs alongside persistent allergies or structural nasal issues.
Foods to avoid
1. Dairy: is known to produce excess mucus. A controlled study of 108 people found this claim to be plausible [i]. Dairy may also increase the production of nasal polyps, a common cause of sinusitis [ii].
2. Refined Sugar: found in processed foods may exacerbate sinusitis symptoms. This is due to sugar increasing inflammation [iii].
3. High histamine foods: histamine is produced naturally in the body to help fight potential allergens. Histamine is also found in a number of foods. Those with a histamine intolerance may break histamine down less effectively, leading to a build-up in the body [iv]. Thus in those with histamine intolerance, eating foods high in histamine may worsen sinusitis symptoms. High histamine foods include those which have undergone some form of fermentation:
Most processed meats: sausage, salami, and ham
Dried or preserved fish and fish sauces
Certain vegetables: tomatoes, avocado, and eggplant
Dried fruit: raisins and apricots
Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt, and vinegar
Fermented beverages: kombucha and alcohol
4. Salicylates: some people may be sensitive to these natural compounds, known as salicylates. They are found in healthy foods such as:
Vegetables: cauliflower and pickled vegetables
Fruits: strawberries, watermelon, plums, and raspberries
Legumes: beans and lentils
Grains: oats, corn, and buckwheat
Certain herbs and spices: rosemary, thyme, paprika, and turmeric
A cross-sectional study found an association between a high intake of salicylate foods and exacerbated sinusitis symptoms in people with chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps [v].
If you suspect you have a salicylate sensitivity or histamine intolerance, talk with a qualified professional. They may recommend an elimination diet, elimination diets are difficult to follow without reducing important nutrient intake and should only be followed as necessary.
Stay hydrated to promote mucus drainage.
Use a humidifier. Moist air helps moisten thick mucus in the nasal passage, allowing for decongestion and easier breathing. Alternatively, take a warm shower, or you can also try breathing over a warm pot of water.
Sleep with your head elevated. This tip may also help to relieve pressure and improve breathing.
Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapples, may help reduce inflammation and swelling to relieve symptoms of sinusitis. However, not all studies show a benefit. Bromelain is often combined with the flavonoid quercetin, which may act as an antihistamine.
Quercetin is a flavonoid. In test tubes, it inhibits the production and release of histamine, which causes allergy symptoms such as a runny nose and watery eyes [vi].
Probiotics (Lactobacillus). Probiotics, or "friendly" bacteria, may be especially helpful if you are taking antibiotics for sinusitis. Taken consistently, they may also reduce the chance of developing allergies.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC). NAC is a modified form of a dietary amino acid that works as an antioxidant in the body. It also helps thin mucus. NAC may interact with nitroglycerin, use to treat chest pain (angina).
Herbs for Sinusitis
Gentiana lutea (gentian).
These herbs may be effective in relieving symptoms of sinusitis by thinning mucus and helping the sinuses drain. They may also help strengthen the immune system. Ask your doctor if you have concerns about interactions with medicines you may currently be taking.
Sneeze Away Tincture 50ml
Digestive Elixir - Organic (50ml)
[i] Frosh A, Cruz C, Wellsted D, Stephens J. Effect of a dairy diet on nasopharyngeal mucus secretion. Laryngoscope. 2019 Jan;129(1):13-17. doi: 10.1002/lary.27287. Epub 2018 Sep 4. PMID: 30178886.
[ii] Lill C, Loader B, Seemann R, Zumtobel M, Brunner M, Heiduschka G, Thurnher D. Milk allergy is frequent in patients with chronic sinusitis and nasal polyposis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2011 Nov-Dec;25(6):e221-4. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2011.25.3686. PMID: 22185729.
[iii] Taw MB, Nguyen CT, Wang MB. Complementary and integrative treatments: rhinosinusitis. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2013 Jun;46(3):345-66. doi: 10.1016/j.otc.2013.02.002. Epub 2013 Apr 28. Erratum in: Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2013 Aug;46(4)711. PMID: 23764814; PMCID: PMC7118523.
[iv] Comas-Basté O, Sánchez-Pérez S, Veciana-Nogués MT, Latorre-Moratalla M, Vidal-Carou MDC. Histamine Intolerance: The Current State of the Art. Biomolecules. 2020 Aug 14;10(8):1181. doi: 10.3390/biom10081181. PMID: 32824107; PMCID: PMC7463562.
[v] Philpott CM, Smith R, Davies-Husband CR, Erskine S, Clark A, Welch A, Hopkins C, Carrie S, Ray J, Sunkaraneni V, Kara N, Kumar N, Robertson A, Anari S, Almeyda R, Wilson A. Exploring the association between ingestion of foods with higher potential salicylate content and symptom exacerbation in chronic rhinosinusitis. Data from the National Chronic Rhinosinusitis Epidemiology Study. Rhinology. 2019 Aug 1;57(4):303-312. doi: 10.4193/Rhin19.027. PMID: 31120456.
[vi] Min YD, Choi CH, Bark H, Son HY, Park HH, Lee S, et al. Quercetin inhibits expression of inflammatory cytokines through attenuation of NF-kappaB and p38 MAPK in HMC-1 human mast cell line. Inflamm Res. 2007 May;56(5):210-5.
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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.