Photo of a woman sneezing
Sinus problems can be eased with natural herbs and essential oils and therapies like ear-candling [Image: AnA oMeLeTe - Wikimedia Commons]

Natural solutions for sinus problems

17 January, 2012

So often we hear people talk about having blocked sinuses or suffering from sinusitis, but do we really know what this is?

The sinuses are air-filled pockets or cavities within the bones of the face.  These hollow air spaces are located above the eyes, on the forehead, behind the bridge of the nose, top of the nose and in the cheek bones.  They are lined with a special tissue which secretes mucus and is lined with tiny hairs (cilia) that moves the mucus along.

They have many functions, which includes warming and cleaning the air we breathe and helping resonate sounds.

Sinus problems

The sinus cavities can stop working efficiently when we have any infection or allergy.  If they become inflamed, blockages occur and mucus cannot drain properly, which can lead to infection. The cavities can become blocked which causes a pressure build up.

Our mucus flushing system (including the lymphatic system) can slow down when it becomes blocked. This can occur if we have a cold, an allergy or if there is an obstruction or swelling in the drainage passages. Unfortunately, mucus production doesn’t stop and this can lead to a build up of pressure.

If this causes an infection it could cause the body to react by increasing the flow of fluid and white blood cells into the sinuses to fight any infection. This may cause the problem to become worse.

If the sinuses then become infected it can lead to sinusitis.

If the sinuses are blocked or infected it can manifest as pain and discomfort in the face, headaches, toothache, fever, weakness, blocked ears, to name but a few.

A natural approach

There are a number of natural things that you do to aid the relief from the pain of sinus congestion.  Below are just a few of these:

 Steam inhalations

One of the most important is to do regular steam inhalations, which is even better if essential oils are used.  Pour some slightly cooled boiled water into a large bowl and cover your head with a towel while you inhale the steam for about 10-15 minutes.  This should be done twice daily.

Essential oils which could be added to the water includes, eucalyptus, ravensara, tea tree, lavender, thyme and frankincense.  A total of 4 drops of essential oil should be added to a bowl of water.


Garlic, Goldenseal, eyebright, elderflowers and yarrow are all suggested as possible herbs to take as infusions or as tinctures.

Fluid balancing herbs like nettle, dandelion and red clover may also help with the excess fluid.

Dietary measures

Taking vitamin C and zinc daily in the diet could also benefit the immune system.

Dairy products, bananas and lamb should all be reduced in the diet as they are all mucus forming and could make the condition worse.

Complementary therapies

There are some excellent treatments which can be done alongside these home remedies to aid any sinus issues.  This includes thermo-auricular therapy (ear candling), facial rejuvenation, manual lymphatic drainage face massage and reflexology, which have all been use to ease the discomforts.

Nasal washes

Try a natural saline nasal spray – there are some excellent ones available in health food stores that could be used in place of other nasal drops.

Another alternative is to use an Ayurvedic Neti pot to “wash out” the cavities (advice should be taken from Ayurveda practitioner before use).

The above suggestions are for adults – you should always consult a healthcare specialist before using on children.


  • Rima Shah is multi-disciplinary practitioner who works from both the NYR Covent Garden and Islington therapy rooms. Click here for NYR therapy rooms details.