Sinus infections can be a painful and uncomfortable condition to deal with. It occurs when the sinuses become inflamed due to a bacterial or viral infection. The symptoms can range from a stuffy or runny nose to facial pain, headaches, and a feeling of pressure in the sinuses. While medication and antibiotics are commonly used to treat sinus infections, natural remedies can also be effective in providing relief from symptoms. In this article, we will explore some natural remedies for sinus infections.
Natural remedies for sinus infections, including apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, cayenne pepper, and garlic, some of Earth Clinic's most popular remedies, effectively relieve the infection and its miserable symptoms.
Sinus infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. They can be a complication of sinus polyps, a deviated septum or allergies. If your sinus infections are caused by polyps or allergies, you should consider natural remedies to heal those problems once you have your sinus infection under control. If you are prone to sinus infections, you may need to add some immune-boosting herbs and supplements to your daily routine. You may also need to adjust your diet.
A saline nasal rinse is one of the most effective natural remedies for sinus infections. It helps clear the nasal passages of mucus and bacteria, reducing inflammation and relieving congestion. Several studies have shown saline nasal irrigation effectively treats sinus infections, including a 2012 review published in the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy.
To make a saline nasal rinse, mix a quarter to a half teaspoon of non-iodized salt with 8 ounces of warm distilled or boiled water. Use a neti pot or a bulb syringe to gently squirt the saline solution into one nostril while tilting your head to the side. Allow the saline solution to flow out of the other nostril. Repeat the process on the other side. It's important to use distilled or boiled water to prevent any risk of infection.
It is important to never use tap water as a part of a saline rinse because it can contain harmful microorganisms, such as Naegleria fowleri, commonly known as the brain-eating amoeba. This amoeba can cause a rare but serious brain infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which can be fatal. Even if the tap water is treated with chlorine, it may not be enough to kill all the harmful organisms. Therefore, it is recommended to always use distilled or sterile water for nasal rinses or other procedures that involve introducing water into the body to reduce the risk of infection.
Steam inhalation is another natural remedy for sinus infections. It helps to loosen mucus and relieve congestion, making breathing easier. To do steam inhalation, fill a bowl with hot water and add a few drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus or peppermint. Lean over the bowl and inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to keep a safe distance to avoid burns from the hot water.
Two common household items, hydrogen peroxide and sea salt are wonderful for fighting a sinus infection. Hydrogen peroxide and sea salt are used to flush the sinuses. This remedy often brings immediate relief from congestion and allows healing to begin.
A neti pot looks like an oddly shaped teapot. Using a neti pot to irrigate the sinuses is a great way to deliver healing therapies straight to the root of the infection.
In addition to natural remedies, certain supplements may help relieve sinus infections. Some of these supplements include:
Colloidal Silver works very well for all sorts of infections. This remedy can be taken internally, and it can also be used to irrigate the nasal passages.
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a natural antimicrobial agent used to treat many infections, including sinus infections. It is made by grinding up the seeds and pulp of grapefruit and mixing them with glycerin or other solvents to extract the active compounds. GSE is believed to work by disrupting the cell membranes of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which leads to their death.
Some evidence suggests that GSE may be effective in treating sinus infections. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a nasal spray containing GSE effectively reduced sinusitis symptoms in patients.
Another study published in 2014 in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that GSE effectively inhibited the growth of several strains of bacteria commonly associated with sinus infections, including Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. 3
Your good bacteria are compromised when dealing with a bacterial or fungal sinus infection. Taking a quality probiotic will help to restore the balance in your system. Probiotics are live bacteria that benefit the body and can help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
A 2015 study published in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology found that taking probiotics improved symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis.
Home remedies can relieve the uncomfortable and painful symptoms of sinus infections. Among the popular home remedies are apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and castor oil.
ACV is a fantastic and popular remedy for sinus infections. It can be taken in water once or twice a day. ACV can also be diluted (a lot) with water and snorted up into the sinuses. Often it helps to clear your sinus congestion while taking these supplements for a sinus infection.
Watch our video below on this particularly fast-acting ACV remedy to clear sinus congestion when sick!
Coconut oil allows you to let your food be your medicine. Coconut oil can be consumed as part of your diet, used inside the nasal passages, or used for oil pulling. Read more about coconut oil for sinus infections here.
Humble castor oil has surprising healing properties. Gently massage castor oil onto your face over your sinuses. Castor oil penetrates the skin and fights infection in the nasal passages. Don't worry about getting the oil on your face; this is also a natural wrinkle remedy. Do use an old pillowcase, though, as the oil can be hard to remove from clothing.
Essential oils are another natural remedy for sinus infections. They can help to reduce inflammation, relieve congestion, and fight off bacteria and viruses. Oregano oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil are three essential oils effective in treating sinus infections.
Oregano oil has powerful antimicrobial properties and can help to fight off the bacteria and viruses that cause sinus infections. It contains carvacrol, a natural compound found to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Oregano oil can be taken orally, applied topically to the skin, or used to steam the sinuses.
Eucalyptus oil is another essential oil that is effective in treating sinus infections. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation and fight off infections. A 2011 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that inhaling eucalyptus oil improved symptoms of sinusitis in patients. 1
To use eucalyptus essential oil for a sinus infection, add five drops of eucalyptus essential oil to 1 teaspoon of coconut or castor oil. Massage this oil on your face, avoiding the eyes and covering the areas above the sinus cavities. Eucalyptus is soothing and opens up nasal passages. This can be repeated hourly or as often as desired. If the oil is too strong, dilute it with more coconut oil.
Peppermint oil has a cooling effect that can help to relieve sinus congestion and headaches. It contains menthol, which can help open the airways and reduce inflammation.
Peppermint essential oil can be used in the same way as the eucalyptus oil above. One drop of this oil can also be added to any tea you drink for your sinus infection.
Cayenne pepper, used for sinus infections, is not for the faint at heart. This treatment does burn, but it is so effective that those who try it are glad that they did. A small amount of the dried powder is applied to or snorted into the nasal cavity.
Garlic is an herb that fights a variety of infections. It is taken internally as one would take an antibiotic. Garlic is also an anti-inflammatory herb and can help to drain the sinuses. Read more about the use of garlic for sinus infections on this page.
Ginger is a strong herb, especially if the fresh ginger root is used. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help reduce sinuses inflammation. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that ginger extract effectively reduced inflammation in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis.2
A 1/2-inch square of fresh ginger root can be sliced thinly for warm tea. Alternatively, the slivers can be slowly chewed. The ginger will cause sinuses to drain.
Turmeric is a natural remedy commonly used to treat inflammation and infection. One 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research found that turmeric effectively reduced symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis.
Here are some tips for using turmeric:
Mullein is a gentle herb that helps to thin mucus, making breathing easier. Here are some key points about mullein tea:
Elderberry is a natural remedy that can be effective in treating sinus infections. Here are some benefits and instructions for using elderberry:
Astragalus root is a food in some cultures. It can be taken liberally to enhance the immune system. If you have frequent sinus infections, the astragalus root can be taken daily in capsules or a tincture to keep your immune system strong.
If your body is low in certain vitamins, your body will have a harder time fighting the infection. Below are several supplements that are critical to support your body during illness.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help boost the immune system and fight infections. It can also help to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms associated with sinus infections. To increase your vitamin C intake, eat more citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens or take vitamin C supplements.
Zinc is another immune-boosting supplement that can help to fight off infections. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation in the sinuses. Eat more nuts, seeds, and legumes or take zinc supplements to increase your zinc intake.
Consider a nice warm bath to get some immediate relief from a sinus infection. Add a cup of baking soda or Epsom salt and a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil if you have it on hand. If you close the bathroom door and fill the tub using the shower head (using hot water), you will fill the bathroom with steam. The steam can help your sinuses to drain while you take your bath.
Facial hydrotherapy is a localized form of hydrotherapy that can be a great alternative to a full bath. The warm water brings fresh blood to the area, promoting healing, while the cool applications help to reduce inflammation.
Here are some instructions for using this technique:
Mix equal parts of the following herbs from your spice cabinet. (Skip whatever you do not have on hand.)
If you mix up a pint jar worth of dry herbs, it will last a little while.
When you need it, bring a pan of water to boil. Add 2-3 T. of the mix. Being careful of the hot pan. Use a towel to cover your head and the pan and breathe in the warm steam. This steam also works well for any cough accompanying your sinus infection.
When dealing with a sinus infection, it's important to consider your diet. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
By following these dietary considerations, you can help to support your body's natural healing process and reduce inflammation and congestion associated with sinus infections.
Sinus polyps are non-cancerous growths that can develop in the sinuses or nasal passages. They can cause a variety of symptoms, including congestion, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell. In some cases, sinus polyps can also cause sinus infections. When the polyps block the sinuses or nasal passages, mucus can build up, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. This can lead to inflammation and infection, causing discomfort and pain.
While surgery is a common treatment for sinus polyps, several natural remedies can help to alleviate the symptoms and reduce the risk of sinus infections. These remedies include:
In addition to using some of the above sinus infection remedies, consider using serrapeptase, an enzyme that can help dissolve polyps. You can also put a few drops of castor oil into your nose daily to reduce the polyps. (This is easiest to do when you are on your back.) For more natural remedies for sinus polyps, please see this page on Earth Clinic.
Allergies are a common cause of sinus infections. When the sinuses become inflamed due to an allergic reaction, they become more susceptible to infection. Allergies can cause swelling, congestion, and excess mucus production in the sinuses, creating an environment ripe for bacterial growth. In some cases, allergies can trigger chronic sinus infections that require medical treatment. However, several natural remedies can help alleviate allergy symptoms and reduce the risk of sinus infections.
One of the most effective natural allergy remedies is identifying and avoiding allergens that trigger your symptoms. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Keeping your home clean and using air filters can help to reduce exposure to these allergens. Nasal irrigation with a saline solution can also help flush out sinuses' allergens, reducing inflammation and preventing infection.
Another natural remedy for allergies and sinus infections is herbal supplements. Butterbur and stinging nettle are two herbs that effectively reduce allergy symptoms, such as congestion and inflammation. Quercetin, a natural antihistamine, can also help to reduce the release of histamines in the body, which can trigger allergic reactions. These herbal supplements can be taken as a tea, capsule, or tincture.
Natural remedies can be a safe and effective way to treat sinus infections, relieving the discomfort and misery of this common condition. Some of the most popular natural remedies for sinus infections include apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, cayenne pepper, and garlic. These remedies, widely recommended by Earth Clinic readers, can effectively relieve the infection and its associated symptoms. By using natural remedies, you can avoid the potential side effects of prescription medications and help support your body's natural healing process. With patience and dedication, you can find relief from sinus infections and get back to feeling your best.
Have you tried one or more of these remedies? We would love to hear from you!
Continue reading below for feedback from Earth Clinic readers who have successfully used many home remedies or supplements to treat a sinus infection.