An inflammatory process in the paranasal sinuses due to
viral, bacterial, and fungal infections or allergic reactions.
The sinuses are bony cavities behind, above and at each side of the nose
and opening into the nasal cavity. They act as a sound-box to give resonance
to the voice. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the four air-containing cavities
in the skull. Like the nasal passages, the sinuses are lined with mucous
membranes, which react to infection by producing mucus. This incapacitates
infecting bacteria. Because the openings from the nose into the sinuses
are very narrow, they quickly become blocked when the mucous membrane of
the nose becomes swollen during a cold, hayfever or catarrh, and then the
infection is trapped inside the sinus. Chronic sinusitis may occur if one
or more of the drainage passages from the sinuses to the nose becomes blocked.
This can cause a dull pain across the face, temple, around the eyes and
headaches. If the maxillary sinuses above the cheeks are infected, this
can produce toothache. Once the lining of the sinuses becomes swollen, the
cilia no longer operate, causing the lining of the sinuses to become permanently
thickened, contributing to the retention of phlegm.
Actions Indicated for the Processes Behind this Disease
Anti-microbials are pivotal in the treatment of this often entrenched
condition. These herbs will help the body deal with any infection present,
but also support the immune system in resisting the development of secondary
Anti-catarrhals will ease the symptomatic discomfort that is characteristic
of this problem, also helping the body in the removal of the build up in
the sinus cavities.
Astringents, often also anti-catarrhals, reduce the overproduction
in the mucous membranes of the sinuses.
Anti-inflammatories are indicated, but most of the herbs that posses
the actions already listed have this effect as well.
Diaphoretics will be indicated if feverishness is part of the symptom
Analgesics may be necessary for temporary relief of pain.
Lymphatics will support the draining and immune work of this vital
Digestive support is indicated if the overproduction of mucous is
leading to some stomach discomfort.
Adaptogens and Immune support may help long term. This `catch-all’
covers any need to support liver, kidney etc. etc.. Please refer to that
section if this is not clear.
The mucous membranes, upper and lower respiratory system, immune system
and possibly the digestive system need attention. It will depend upon individual
One possible prescription:
Solidago virgaurea — — — 2 parts
Sambucus nigra — — — 1 part
Echinacea spp. — — — 1 part
Baptisia tinctoria — — — 1 part 5 ml. taken three times
The herbal approach to these problems is both indirect and direct. The indirect
approach sees upper respiratory disease within the context of the whole
person. Sometimes, the overproduction of mucus is an attempt by the body
to discharge waste material which is not being properly eliminated by the
bowels, kidneys, and skin. In such cases, the herbalist may prescribe bitter
tonics to encourage regular bowel movements; or diuretic herbs which encourage
kidney elimination of retained fluids and waste materials; or diaphoretic
herbs which stimulate skin elimination.
A diet which reduces mucus production is also essential. In particular a
fruit fast for two or three days can help clear a system clogged and over-burdened
by toxic wastes. Hot lemon drinks reduce mucus production and so do garlic,
onions and horseradish (grate the fresh root into cider vinegar or lemon
juice and eat a little each day). You can also add mustard and aromatic
herbs like oregano to your food. Extra zinc and Vitamin C will help build
up the body’s resistance to infection.
Sometimes, emotional factors like suppressed grief can lead to blocked upper
respiratory passages. In these cases, a good cry can free this blocked energy
and alleviate the problem. Some cases of chronic mucus production are due
A steam inhalant is an effective technique for treating upper respiratory
catarrh and sinusitis. In a bottle, mix 30 ml of compound tincture of Benzoin
with 2.5 ml eucalyptus oil, 6 drops peppermint oil, 5 drops lavender oil
and 5 drops pine oil. Shake well. Put a teaspoonful in a bowl and pour on
1 pt (500 ml) boiled water. Cover the head and the bowl with a towel or
cloth and inhale. KEEP THE EYES CLOSED!
The British aromatherapist Patricia Davis says that Lavender and Thyme
are the most effective when there is much pain, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and
Pine are good at relieving the blockage and stuffiness, while Ti-tree is
the most powerful antiseptic of these – very important in eradicating the
Certain foods, especially dairy produce and wheat, seem to pre-dispose people
towards sinusitis, because they provoke excessive formation of mucus. During
an acute attack of sinusitis all dairy and wheat-based foods must be excluded
for several days, and people who have chronic or repeated attacks, are advised
to exclude these foods completely for several months, and then reintroduce
them in very small amounts, if at all. Goat and sheeps’ milk products are
sometimes better tolerated than cow’s milk. Acupuncture is a very effective
therapy for sinusitis and can be used alongside Phytotherapy.