What causes sinusitis?When exposed to an infectious organism like a cold virus or an airborne irritant like an allergen, your body’s inflammatory responses are immediately triggered. The inflammation is often focused on the mucous membranes of the nasal passages and sinuses, which are your immune system’s first line of defence against infection and illness, and which immediately increase their secretion of mucus. This physiological response occurs in an attempt to flush out the infectious organism or irritant and prevent it from making you sick, and despite feeling unpleasant, is a sign that your immune system has jumped to your defence and is working hard on your behalf.
Congestion causes pain and headachesUnfortunately though, if the excess mucus is unable to drain away freely, it may impede your ability to breathe through your nose and cause symptoms of congestion and pressure in the sinus cavities inside the bones of your nose, cheeks and forehead – sometimes accompanied by headaches. Sinusitis symptoms associated with a cold or the flu usually clear up in a relatively short time. However, many people do suffer from chronic sinusitis, in which low-grade symptoms persist for at least 12 weeks, sometimes with recurrent acute flare-ups.
Decongestant herbs to relieve sinusitisIn Chinese medicine, herbs that have traditionally been used to relieve acute and chronic sinusitis include Xanthium (also known as Cockleburr or Cang Er Zi) and Magnolia flower (Xin Yi Hua) to unblock the nasal and sinus passages, White Angelica (Bai Zhi) to address congestion, and Asian wild mint (Bo He) to clear the eyes and head. Together these herbs comprise an ancient Chinese herbal formula that has been used for hundreds of years to relieve symptoms of sinusitis, and is traditionally considered decongestant, soothing and anti-inflammatory.
Address infection with HouttuyniaInfection is an ongoing concern for sufferers of both acute and chronic sinusitis, because mucus congestion creates an environment that’s hospitable to infectious organisms, enabling them to proliferate and take hold relatively easily. As a result, herbs with anti-infective actions may also be beneficial. For example, the Chinese herb Houttuynia (Fishwort or Yu Xing Cao) has traditionally been regarded as having anti-infective properties, and taken to relieve sinusitis symptoms such as inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, especially when accompanied by blockage and discharge.
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