Did you know that sinus infections are almost always caused by a virus? And regardless of the fact that studies show that antibiotics work no better than placebos for this condition, one in five antibiotics is still prescribed for sinusitis. In addition to being useless treatments for sinus infections, this over-prescription of antibiotics is contributing to a host of other health problems, from nausea and yeast infections to deadly super-bugs.
But if drugs don’t work as treatments for sinus infections, what does? Let’s start with prevention.
Humming to Ward Off Sinus Infections
Are you one of those people who hums as you go about your day? In addition to filling the air with song, you may also be warding off sinus infections. Healthy sinuses rely on good ventilation and adequate levels of nitric oxide (NO), which is produced in the sinuses and airways and acts as an antimicrobial agent against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Several studies have found that, compared to quiet exhalation, humming increases air flow through the nasal passages and produces a 15-fold increase in exhaled NO. As a result, humming on a regular basis may protect against and help relieve sinus infections.
It may sound crazy, but if you’re one of the 37 million Americans who suffers with headaches, pain, pressure, congestion, and other signs of sinus infections, therapeutic humming is certainly worth trying. (Low, sustained, frequent humming that creates vibration appears to be most effective.) I also recommend it for people with asthma, allergies, and other conditions that are marked by reduced respiratory NO levels.
SOS for Sinuses
But what if you already have a sinus infection? Enter my favorite supplement solution: Sinupret. This unique supplement is designed to treat inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis) and the bronchioles (bronchitis). It contains just five herbs—gentian root, primrose flowers, elder flowers, common sorrel herb, and shop vervain wort—but there’s something about this combo that really works.
First, Sinupret normalizes mucus secretion and viscosity. It thins the mucus that clogs up the sinuses and lungs and allows it to properly drain, which is why it’s so good at clearing up congestion, a common symptom of sinus infections. Conversely, because it promotes normal mucus flow, it also “turns down the faucet” for people with excessive sinus drainage.
Second, it has potent anti-inflammatory activity, so it reduces tissue swelling, thereby opening the nasal passageways and airways in the lungs and making breathing easier. This is an important mechanism, for many diseases of the airways, including asthma and allergies, are exacerbated by inflammation. Sinupret simply tones it down.
Finally, Sinupret has antiviral effects that inhibit the spread of flu- and cold-causing viruses. And it has immunomodulating effects, meaning it gives the immune system a boost. All in all, this makes for one powerful product. Look for Sinupret in health food stores or online and use as directed.
Saline: A Simple Solution for Sinus Infections
Another option to relieve sinusitis and a stuffy nose is to irrigate your nasal passages with saline solution. The most basic nasal irrigation involves a mixture of salt and lukewarm water (¼ teaspoon of salt per eight ounces of water), held in the cupped palm of your hand and “snorted” up into one nostril while blocking off the other. Just tip your head back slightly and allow the solution to flow through the nasal cavity, then out of the other nostril. This may also be done with a bulb syringe, neti pot (a small, teapot-like device), or a squeeze bottle made especially for this purpose. (A good brand available in drugstores is NeilMed.) Repeat a few times in both nostrils over the sink or in the shower, as it can get messy.
Boost Your Immune System With IV Nutrients
The above solutions for sinus infections are all well and good, but if you really want to give your immune system a boost, you should seriously consider intravenous (IV) nutrients.
When nutrients such as vitamin C are administered intravenously—directly into the bloodstream—they bypass the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, allowing for better absorption and greater potency. Unlike large doses of oral vitamin C, which can cause loose stools, IV vitamin C has no effect on the GI tract whatsoever, so it promotes much higher blood levels. To put this into perspective, 10 g of IV vitamin C raises serum levels of this nutrient 25 times higher than the same dose taken orally.
Look for a practitioner that offers IV nutrient drips by visiting the American College for Advancement in Medicine.