Spring with its rainy days, flowers blooming, pollen blowing, and gardeners everywhere tilling up decayed and rotting plant material creates the perfect setting for respiratory inflammation and a rip-roaring case of sinusitis.

Sinusitis is inflammation of the nasal sinuses, the normally air-filled cavities that lie beside and above the nose. Sinus cavities help filter and warm the air we breathe. They also provide a protective air cushion between the face and brain. When you have sinusitis, these cavities are inflamed, swollen, and filled with mucus. The face is usually painfully tender to any touch. You may also have a headache, ear pain, nasal congestion, and mucus dripping out of your sinuses and down the back of your throat.

Sinusitis can be acute (lasting up to 10 days) or chronic (lasting for several months without relief). And while any sort of upper respiratory infection, viral, bacterial, or fungal, can lead to a sinus infection, allergic reactivity is also a primary cause of sinus inflammation.

Several natural medicines are uniquely useful in treating sinusitis because they provide symptom relief while simultaneously strengthening the immune health of your sinus and respiratory tract systems. Here are several of my favorites:

N-acetylcysteine is an antioxidant derived from the amino acid L-cysteine. It can help reduce mucus production while speeding the healing of inflamed mucus membranes.

Dosage: 500 milligrams (mg) three times a day. For chronic sinusitis, I recommend an ongoing dose of 1,000 mg daily.

Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many fruits and vegetables. It’s anti-inflammatory and a natural antihistamine. Onions and kale are great sources of quercetin. You can also find it as a supplement.

Dosage: For acute sinusitis, take 350 mg four times a day. For chronic sinusitis, take 700 mg daily.

Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme complex derived from pineapple. Bromelain helps your immune system break down mucus and fight inflammation. Eating pineapple, away from other food, is good medicine when you have sinusitis or any nasal congestion.

Dosage: Supplement with bromelain 500 mg up to four times a day, away from food, for both acute and chronic sinusitis.

Nasal irrigation is an excellent way to relieve acute sinus pain and inflammation. Studies show that rinsing your nose with a saltwater solution reduces mucus and swelling in the nose and sinuses, bringing symptom relief for up to six hours. I recommend patients use a neti pot, a small container specifically designed for medical nasal irrigation. It’s best to use a sterile saline solution that you purchase at a pharmacy. If you must make your own, boil tap water first to make sure it is bacteria free, then add one teaspoon of sea salt per two cups of water.

Allergy testing. Finally, if sinusitis is a recurrent problem for you, seek both food and inhalant allergy testing. In my experience, many people with sinus problems have allergies to dairy, wheat, and/or mold, dust mites, and pets. For food allergy testing, IgG blood testing is the best method. Skin scratch or blood testing can determine inhalant allergies.

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