Herbal medicine has been used for centuries to treat common ailments with few unwanted side effects, and many herbal sinus remedies are credited with treating and preventing sinus conditions. A good herbal remedy is one that addresses the symptoms being experienced, while also being something the patient can tolerate well. Herbs that stimulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, such as eucalyptus and licorice root, are among the herbs that can be effective in treating sinus problems.
The first line of defense for inflamed sinuses is eucalyptus. This fragrant herb has antiseptic, decongestant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Sinuses become painful when their mucous-lined membranes become inflamed as the result of a lingering upper respiratory infection or toxic conditions in the environment. Eucalyptus relieves the irritated and swollen mucous membranes and creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to bacterial growth. The herb’s decongestant properties help the mucus to break up and drain.
Licorice root can also be effective in treating sinus conditions. Licorice is a potent immune stimulator and expectorant. Glycyrrhizinic acid, a component in the herb, catalyzes immune system response and stops the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses. Licorice root boosts the production of interferon, a chemical that is lethal to invading virus populations. In addition, being an expectorant, licorice root thins out thickened mucus that is impacted in the sinus cavities, helping them to clear.
Other herbal treatments that may help with sinus conditions include ginger to help relieve the pain of sinus headaches, and peppermint to help with sinus-related breathing problems. Ginger comes in a capsule form for such uses, while peppermint can be consumed in tea form or the steam can be inhaled after peppermint is steeped. Taking garlic capsules or applying a few drops of tea tree oil beneath the nose also can help ease sinus problem.
Before beginning any herbal sinus remedies, it is important to determine that a sinus problem exists. Sinusitis, the most common sinus ailment, will usually present with symptoms similar to those of the common cold, though there are some telling symptoms that indicate the sinus cavities are becoming involved. These include feeling pressure and fullness behind the eyes and cheekbones, a headache that becomes worse if the head is down, and pain in the jaw or teeth.
Once it has been ascertained that the sinuses are afflicted, herbal sinus remedies tailored to the patient can be applied. Eucalyptus can be prepared into a tea using the leaves of the herb, or the oil can be added to a vaporizer to be inhaled over a period of time. Eucalyptus throat lozenges are available and provide added relief to the throat if it becomes sore. Licorice root is available in capsule form and can also be made into an herbal tea.
Treatment with herbs should be continued until symptoms abate, but herbal sinus remedies should be discontinued if an unusual reaction occurs. If you are taking any prescription medications, you also should consult a doctor before beginning any herbal treatment. While herbs have relatively few side effects, they can affect the way some prescription medicines work; a physician can work with you to find an herbal remedy that's safe with your particular prescription or to adjust your prescription.