Sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the sinus cavities (located around the nose). What causes it? An infection (resulting from a common cold, tooth abscess, or other ailment), allergies such as hay fever, or an injury to the nose. Once someone has the sinus disorder, it may go away only to return the next time a cold hits.

Unlike conventional medicine, many alternative therapies believe that the symptoms and infectious organisms related to sinusitis are not the primary concern. Instead, these treatments try to uncover the causes of the sinus disorder.

Chiropractic Medicine for Sinusitis

Chiropractic medicine holds a great deal of promise for people with sinusitis. Its treatments can target the bones and mucous membrane that surround the air-filled sinus cavities, as well as the joints and muscles of other parts of the body. Patients of chiropractic have reported improvements in their breathing, their postnasal drainage, their ability to sleep, and their sense of smell, as well as fewer headaches. Several treatment methods may be appropriate:

  • Chiropractic manipulative therapy -- adjusting joints beyond their normal limitations to correct a misalignment -- allows the body to return to proper function and heal itself.
  • Nasal-specific technique -- inserting small balloon-like tools into the nasal cavity and gently inflating them -- can expand the sinus openings. (This technique is often practiced by naturopathic physicians.)
  • Trigger point therapy -- applying pressure to a "trigger point" on the body (somewhere other than the sinus area) -- can eliminate the sinus pain.
  • Light-force cranial manipulation -- involving adjustments of the skull bones and surrounding fluid -- may also provide relief.

A typical chiropractic treatment for sinusitis may require 15 visits spread out over two months. Only a trained practitioner is qualified to perform spinal manipulation. Chiropractors specialize in treating the spine and other joints. Osteopaths and naturopathic physicians may also employ these techniques, while physical therapists and massage therapists often incorporate elements such as trigger point therapy into their work.

Herbal Medicine for Sinusitis

Herbs can be used to stimulate the immune system and to reduce the production of mucus, dry out the sinuses, and reduce inflammation of the membranes. Both echinacea (also called purple coneflower) and goldenseal may strengthen the immune system, making it harder for future infections to trigger an attack of sinusitis. Goldenseal is also considered an effective reliever of sinusitis symptoms. The herb's root can be taken in capsule or tincture form or diluted with warm water and used as a nasal rinse. Teas made from elderflower, ginger, chamomile, ground ivy, or peppermint can clear out mucus. Other herbs that offer relief of sinusitis include eyebright, goldenrod, and marshmallow.

Acupuncture for Sinusitis

According to acupuncture therapy, sinusitis can have several origins. It may result from a weakness in energy, or qi, in the lungs, which can leave the respiratory system in an unhealthy state. The disorder may also follow a disturbance in the intestines.

In assessing a patient with sinusitis, the acupuncturist looks beyond the symptoms to understand the health of the entire body. The acupuncturist may do a complete physical exam or make a pulse or tongue diagnosis and ask for your personal history. As needed, tiny needles are inserted in certain points on the body to replenish or disperse the energy, bringing it back to its ideal level. These points can also be stimulated with needles, electrical current, pressure, or heat. Herbal remedies and dietary alterations may also be prescribed.

An acupuncturist, a traditional Chinese physician, or a naturopathic physician can perform acupuncture. For your first visit to the practitioner, be prepared to discuss in detail your sinusitis symptoms, as well as your general health, diet, and lifestyle.

Other Sinusitis Therapies
  • Aromatherapy for Sinusitis -- The essential oils of eucalyptus, pine, or rosemary can be added to a steam inhalation treatment.
  • Homeopathy for Sinusitis -- Common remedies include allium cepa, kali bichromicum, and sulphur.
  • Hydrotherapy for Sinusitis -- Alternating hot and cold baths or compresses can be beneficial.
  • Nutritional Therapy for Sinusitis -- Recommendations include taking vitamins B6 and C and avoiding dairy products and food allergens.
  • Yoga for Sinusitis -- Poses and breathing exercises can improve breathing, reduce tension and stress, and support the immune system.
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