Find Relief from Sinus Infections Naturally

Modified on Apr 05, 2024 | Written by Deirdre Layne

Apple Cider Vinegar.

Dealing with sinus infections can be uncomfortable, but natural remedies offer relief and healing. This guide covers popular and effective options, from apple cider vinegar to immune-boosting supplements, providing alternatives to traditional medications.

 

Understanding Sinus Infections

Sinus infections, often caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergies, can lead to symptoms like facial pain, congestion, and headaches. Addressing underlying causes such as sinus polyps or allergies is crucial. Boosting your immune system through diet and supplements can also be beneficial.

 

Top Natural Remedies for Sinus Relief

Saline Nasal Irrigation

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.

Tap Water and Saline Rinses: Why You Should Never Mix Them

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

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.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Sea Salt

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.

Neti Pot

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. 

Supplements

In addition to natural remedies, certain supplements may help relieve sinus infections. Some of these supplements include:

Colloidal Silver

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

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a natural antimicrobial agent that treats many types of infections, including sinus infections. GSE is believed to work by disrupting the cell membranes of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which leads to their death.

Probiotics

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.

Home Remedies

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.

Apple Cider Vinegar

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!

Relieve Sinus Congestion in 10 Seconds

Coconut Oil

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.

Castor Oil

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 for Sinus Infections

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 that are effective in treating sinus infections.

Oregano Oil 

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

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.

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

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. 

Herbs for Sinus Infections

Cayenne 

Cayenne pepper, used for sinus infections, is not for the faint at heart. This treatment burns, but it is so effective that those who try it are glad they did. A small amount of the dried powder is applied to or snorted into the nasal cavity.

Garlic

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

Ginger is a strong herb, especially if the fresh ginger root is used. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help reduce sinus 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

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.

Turmeric Tips

  • Add a teaspoon of turmeric to a cup of warm water or tea and consume it several times daily.
  • Mix turmeric into applesauce for a palatable option.
  • Turmeric is often added to milk to treat inflammation, but if you have a sinus infection, use almond or coconut milk instead of dairy products.
  • If you can't tolerate the taste of turmeric, you can take four capsules instead of the powder.
  • Remember always to take turmeric with plenty of fluid to avoid constipation.

Mullein

Mullein is a gentle herb that helps to thin mucus, making breathing easier. Here are some key points about mullein tea:

  • Mullein tea has a mild and pleasant taste, making it easy to drink.
  • It can be consumed liberally throughout the day.
  • Mullein tea is a great addition to other natural remedies for sinus infections, as it helps to soothe and relieve congestion.
  • Mullein has been traditionally used for respiratory conditions, including sinus infections.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the sinuses.
  • Mullein tea can be made by steeping dried mullein leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes.
  • Mullein oil can also be applied topically to the chest or under the nose to help relieve congestion.

Elderberry

Elderberry is a natural remedy that can be effective in treating sinus infections. Here are some benefits and instructions for using elderberry:

Benefits:

  • Elderberry has antiviral and immune-boosting properties, which can help to fight off infections that cause sinusitis.
  • It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the sinuses.
  • Elderberry may help to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms associated with sinus infections.

Instructions:

  • Elderberry can be consumed as syrup, capsules, or tea.
  • Elderberry syrup can be taken 1-2 tablespoons daily for adults and one teaspoon daily for children.
  • Elderberry capsules can be taken according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Elderberry tea can be made by steeping dried elderberries in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Astragalus

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.

Vitamins

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

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

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.

Hydrotherapy for Sinus Infections

Steam Bath

Consider a nice warm bath to immediately relieve 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

Facial hydrotherapy is an effective, localized treatment that can be a convenient alternative to a full-body bath. This method uses contrasting temperatures to promote healing and reduce inflammation. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare Two Bowls: Get two bowls - fill one with warm water and the other with cool water.
  2. Soak and Apply Cloths: Submerge a cloth in each bowl. Wring out the excess water from each cloth. First, place the cool cloth on your face for one minute.
  3. Switch Between Warm and Cool: After a minute, switch to the warm cloth, applying it to your face for 30 seconds.
  4. Alternate Temperatures: Continue alternating between the cool and warm cloths, making seven total changes between them.
  5. Finish with Cool Cloth: Always start and end the session with the cool cloth.
  6. Frequency: You can perform this therapy multiple times throughout the day as needed.

This simple and soothing technique reduces facial inflammation and promotes relaxation.

Dietary Adjustments

When dealing with a sinus infection, it's important to consider your diet. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid dairy products, as they can contribute to mucous formation.
  • Sugar and processed foods can also contribute to inflammation and congestion.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids to keep the mucous in your sinuses thin and draining. Good choices include hot tea, hot vinegar tea, fresh juices, water, and homemade water-based soups.
  • Garlic, ginger, and horseradish can help to stimulate the sinuses. Use them to make tea or as condiments for your meals.
  • Homemade chicken soup can be healing. Make chicken broth (store-bought varieties often have high levels of MSG). Add a pinch of sea salt, cayenne pepper, sage, garlic, onion, and thyme to each cup of broth for added flavor and healing benefits.

Sinus Infections Caused by Polyps

Sinus polyps are non-cancerous growths that can develop in the sinuses or nasal passages. They can cause various 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:

  • Saline nasal rinses: Saline nasal rinses can help to flush out mucus and reduce inflammation in the sinuses. Use a neti pot or a bulb syringe filled with a saline solution made from salt and warm water.
  • Essential oils: Essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree can help to reduce inflammation, relieve congestion, and fight off bacteria and viruses. Use them in a diffuser or add them to a carrier oil and apply them to the skin.
  • Dietary changes: Eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods that can cause inflammation, such as sugar and processed foods, can help to reduce the risk of sinus infections. Drinking fluids and staying hydrated can also help clear the sinuses and prevent mucus buildup.

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.

Sinus Infections Caused by Allergies

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 sinus 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.

User Reviews

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.

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List of Remedies for Sinus Infections