Sinus allergies or allergic rhinitis often result in sinus infections accompanied by congestion in the face and head, nasal discharge, headaches and eye symptoms. Allergies are your immune system acting to protect you against a perceived invading pathogen. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says that about 50 percent of Americans are allergic to at least one substance. Although conventional medicine says that allergies are incurable, they may be controlled with herbs. Herbs can produce side effects, so before starting any new herbal treatments, always consult your health practitioner.
Fenugreek may relieve congestion by acting as an astringent to dry out mucus production and loosen tightness in your bronchial tubes, according to The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. Coughing is often concomitant to sinus allergies due to postnasal drip, and fenugreek encourages expectoration of mucus from airways. Because fenugreek may cause side effects, speak to your health practitioner before using it.
Barberry and Goldenseal
Barberry stimulates the immune system, helping it to fight infections with anti-microbial properties, says The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. Goldenseal is similar in its action on the immune system, helping to protect the body and hasten healing; however, if you suffer from hay fever, goldenseal may aggravate your symptoms. These herbs may aggravate your condition, so contact an herbal specialist before using them for guidelines on dosing.
Anise is often recommended by herbalists as an expectorant to break up congestion and tightness in the chest, and may help you cough up stubborn mucus, according to Jethro Kloss in Back to Eden. Anise is licorice flavored but is not the same as licorice root.
Licorice root creates a thin film or coating on the throat called mucilage, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is often helpful in cases where your sinus allergies cause postnasal drip, irritating your throat. The mucilage protects delicate mucus membranes and tissues from becoming excessively irritated, and it may help repair damaged tissues. Licorice root can raise your blood pressure, so if you take medicine for hypertension, it is important to consult your health practitioner before using this herb.
Black Pepper and Honey
A mixture of freshly ground black peppercorns and honey may be helpful in breaking up mucus in the frontal sinuses and the chest, and prevent additional mucus from forming. Peppercorns are a culinary herb and can be ground in a coffee grinder used only for grinding herbs. Mix a pinch of ground peppercorns with 2 tbsp. honey and sip off a spoon as needed. The dose of pepper can be adjusted to taste.
Fresh horseradish root is a culinary herb that helps clear the sinuses of congestion and opens nasal passages, according to The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. It may also be helpful in stopping a postnasal drip. Horseradish root is easy to use. Grate a few strokes of the root into a cup and hold under your nose to sniff as a natural herbal inhaler. The odor of the horseradish will often be enough to act on your sinuses.
According to Peace Health, eucalyptus oil is used for inhalation to break up nasal and sinus congestion. The best way to use eucalyptus oil is by adding a drop or two into a room inhaler. Additionally, you can place a drop into a bowl of hot water, cover your head and the bowl with a towel and lean over to inhale the steam. Be careful to check the temperature to avoid burning yourself.
Herbal tea is one of the best ways to use herbs for relief from sinus allergies. Regardless of which herb you use, you can make a tea by adding approximately 1 tsp. dried herb or 2 tsp. fresh herb to a cup of boiling water. Leave the mixture in the pot on the stove to simmer for 5 to 15 minutes. Strain the mixture when brewing is complete. Discard the herb and drink the tea as needed. Honey can be added as a sweetener. Always follow the directions you receive from your health practitioner for using herbs.
- “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing“; James Duke; 2002
- “Back to Eden”, Jethro Kloss, 2006
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Licorice