There are many over-the-counter remedies for the congestion and headache that come with a sinus infection. However, if you are looking for an alternative method to alleviate symptoms, you could try using apple cider vinegar. Although some people may benefit from using ACV as a home remedy for sinus infection, there have been no scientific studies to confirm its safety or effectiveness. For sinusitis that is severe enough to disrupt your daily activities, be sure to see your doctor.
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In the article, "Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect," Carol Johnson, PhD, writes that vinegar has been used to manage wounds since the days of Hippocrates, around 420 BC. From the time of Hippocrates to the present day, a combination of vinegar and honey has been a popular folk remedy for a wide range of illnesses. Johnson explains that modern studies have not conclusively shown vinegar remedies to be effective. Although there is no objective evidence, many people remain firm supporters.
According to the FDA, apple cider vinegar sold in the US must be five to six percent acetic acid. That acidity helps keep bacteria from growing--that's why humans have used vinegar to preserve foods for ages. According to Johnson, vinegars have been proven effective at reducing food-borne bacteria, but there is still no evidence that the same function extends to other types of bacteria, like those in your sinuses.
The Vinegar Institute lists several ways to use ACV to clear sinus symptoms. You can add 1/4 cup ACV to your vaporizer tank. If you don't have a vaporizer, pour hot water and ACV into a bowl and hold your head over the bowl to inhale the steam.
The Vinegar Institute also lists a concoction made from hot water, one teaspoon of ACV and one teaspoon honey. Heat the water as you would for tea, then add the other ingredients and stir to dissolve the honey. While sipping the concoction, hold the steaming mug near your face to make it easier to inhale the vapor.
If you prefer not to drink the mixture, the Vinegar Institute also mentions a gargling option. Make the same potion of hot water, ACV and honey described above and gargle with it. Alternatively, skip the honey and use a teaspoon of ACV mixed with a cup of warm water.
MayoClinic.com warns that although ACV is generally safe, there are risks associated with using too much of it. Because vinegar is acidic, consuming excessive amounts could irritate your esophagus. It is also possible that the vinegar could react with other drugs and supplements, such as diuretics and insulin, and lead to medical problems like potassium depletion.
If you choose to try the ACV cure for sinus infections, keep track of how you are feeling and the progress you are making. For some people, the steam and the vinegar will help clear symptoms temporarily, but the pain and congestion return quickly. If you feel like you aren't getting any better after a few days, pay a visit to your physician.