Treating Sinusitis Symptoms Naturally

Sinusitis is also known as rhinosinusitis because it results in inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the sinuses and the nasal mucosa.

Sinusitis is defined as acute if it lasts less than four weeks and defined as chronic if it lasts for more than 12 weeks.

Sinusitis is one of the most commonly reported chronic diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sinusitis impacts almost 30 million adults in the US alone and 13% of the global population. [1-2]

Causes of sinusitis

A viral upper respiratory tract infection typically triggers sinusitis. Still, it may also be triggered by allergies, cigarette smoking, diabetes, regular swimming, diving, high altitude climbing, and dental diseases and procedures.

Symptoms of sinusitis

Sinusitis symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, tenderness, pain and pressure in the face, headaches, toothaches, a sore throat, and a reduced sense of smell. Many people with sinusitis also experience pain in the ears, coughs, bad breath, eye puffiness, facial swelling, and fever in acute infection.

Common treatment of sinusitis

There are plenty of acute sinusitis medications available, including steroid nasal sprays, antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines, pain relievers, and systemic steroids. 

About 90% of patients in the United States are estimated to receive an antibiotic from their general practitioner, yet often the condition resolves without antibiotics. 

Antibiotics and other medications for sinusitis can sometimes cause worse side effects than the actual symptoms of the sinus infection. Some of these side effects include indigestion, weight gain due to increased appetite, nausea, heart palpitations, and constipation.

Chronic sinusitis may require referral to an ear-nose-throat specialist for possible endoscopic sinus surgery. But surgery should only be considered if complications of sinusitis are suspected. A change in lifestyle and diet can help cure the situation without the complex surgery procedure, [3] especially since some patients continue to be symptomatic even after surgical therapy. [4] These patients form a significant portion of daily clinical practice.

Because of the side effects of sinusitis medication and surgery, more people prefer to explore natural, effective treatments for relieving sinusitis symptoms.

Here is how to remedy sinusitis symptoms naturally.


1. Stick to an anti-inflammatory diet

Dietary modifications may offer an excellent means of reducing inflammation in patients with sinusitis without the use of medication. [5]

Increasing the consumption of foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as fruits, vegetables, natural nuts, and seeds, can manipulate the diet for controlling inflammation.

Fruits, vegetables, natural nuts, and seeds are rich sources of nutrients and compounds with antioxidant, anti-allergic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Fruits should be consumed fresh and unsweetened. One should avoid juices. The most potent anti-inflammatory fruits include:

Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Vegetables should be consumed raw, steamed, sautéed, juiced, or baked.

The most potent anti-inflammatory vegetables include: 

Tomatoes, foods from the broccoli family, and green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, and collards.

Nuts and seeds should be consumed raw and natural.

The most potent anti-inflammatory nuts and seeds include almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, flax, and chia seeds.

Superfoods such as spirulina, mankai, chlorella, curcumin, barley grass, and wheatgrass have very potent anti-inflammatory properties. These may be consumed fresh, but you may consume them in powder or frozen form added to foods and shakes or taken as a supplement in tablet form.

It’s good to note that you should avoid curcumin if you suffer from liver problems or have a history of alcoholism.

You also want to alter your consumption of meat, dairy, and fats which all increase inflammation. Aim to limit all animal product foods to a maximum of twice a week.

2. Reduce Foods that trigger allergies

Research shows a correlation between food allergy and chronic sinusitis. One study [6] found 81% of people with chronic sinusitis had positive allergy tests, even though only 11% actually showed allergic reactions. 

Other studies [8-9] also reported a high prevalence (over 70%) of food allergy among patients with nasal polyps, significantly higher than in healthy control groups.

Allergy testing followed by a food elimination diet is a very effective treatment for unmanageable chronic sinusitis.[7-10]

There are immunological tests that an allergist may perform to determine if you have an allergic response to certain foods. Common food allergies or intolerances include wheat and dairy products which one can avoid through an elimination diet supplemented with other foods of similar properties such as gluten-free grains to replace wheat and legumes to replace dairy foods. 

3. Consume foods that support a healthy microbiome

By regulating the gut microbiome composition to prevent an imbalance in the microflora, which leads to changes in metabolic activities, you reduce ongoing inflammation and improve nutrient and macronutrient uptake. [11-12]

This is a very effective way to treat even unmanageable chronic sinusitis.

Many factors facilitate a healthy microbiome, including how many species of bacteria are present in the gut, whether your diet supports a healthy, varied gut microbiome, and the time it takes food to travel through your digestive system. [13]

So how do you facilitate a healthy microbiome?

 1. Consume prebiotics

Prebiotics are food for your friendly bacteria. The bacteria use prebiotics to produce short-chain fatty acids, which modulate the inflammatory response and immune system. These short-chain fatty acids significantly reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases. Prebiotic-rich foods include vegetables, especially: artichokes, garlic, leeks, potatoes, carrots, and asparagus.

  • Fruits, especially bananas, apples, oranges, and apricots,

 2. Supplement with probiotics

Probiotic supplements can increase the number of bacterial species present in the gut. Supplement with a probiotic capsule on an empty stomach. Aim for a capsule with 100 billion bacteria with ten or more different strains. 

3. Increase fiber consumption

A high fiber diet will prevent constipation and decrease the time it takes food to travel through your digestive system. Short-chain fatty acids are produced by the healthy bacteria in the gut when the bacteria in the gut ferment fiber in the colon.

These short-chain fatty acids significantly reduce the transit time of foods in the colon. The best types of fiber for the production of short-chain fatty acids in the colon include [15-16]

  • Legumes, especially beans and lentils.
  • Whole grains, for example, whole grain wheat, barley, rye, and rice.

These foods will help prevent the colonization of the gut with unhealthy microbial flora and prevent the spread of inflammation in the body. 

4. Consume a low-salicylate diet

When you have aspirin-exacerbated sinusitis, high salicylate foods, along with aspirin, will increase symptoms and worsening of this condition. A diet low in salicylates will lower symptoms. Beverages rich in salicylates to avoid include beer, root beer, cloves, coffee, black tea, wine, rum, and liqueurs, Foods rich in salicylates to avoid include almonds, avocados, mayonnaise, peanuts, pickles, sweet potato, all kinds of vinegar, and these spices: aniseed, basil, bay leaf, black pepper, chili, curry, coriander, mint, nutmeg, and vanilla essence. [17]

Alternative therapies 

Alternative therapies can supplement dietary and medical treatment; however, they should not be considered sole therapies.

1. Aromatherapy and essential oils

Steam can open nasal passages, clear mucus, and relieve sinus pressure. Steam inhalation is one of the most accessible home remedies. It requires pouring boiled water into a large bowl and inhaling the steam. To keep the steam from escaping, you can cover your head with a towel that hangs over the side of the bowl. Add soothing essential oils like frankincense, sandalwood, peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil to the water. Studies show that inhalation of specific aromatherapy oils can improve symptoms of sinusitis.

2. Nasal irrigation with a saltwater solution

Nasal irrigation clears the sinuses by moisturizing the nose and removing excess mucus. It’s possible to make a saline solution at home using distilled water and non-iodized salt. You’ll also need a saline rinse bottle or an ear bulb to squeeze the solution into your nostrils.

A comprehensive study on saline nasal irrigation and upper respiratory conditions, including sinusitis, concluded that saltwater nasal solutions reduced symptoms. Researchers concluded that saline solutions might be good alternatives to mucolytics, antibiotics, and decongestants, with study participants tolerating nasal irrigation well. [19]

3. Humidification

Humidifiers hold a reservoir of cold water and blow air through a filter and fan. These disperse moisture into the air, making breathing more comfortable. Steam or warm humidifiers use boiled water and have the same effect as a hot shower. You can also add essential oils to the water used in your humidifier for a more therapeutic experience.

A recent study on sinusitis listed humidification as one of the top treatments for sinusitis and its symptoms. [20] The moisture added to the air aids in breathing and promotes sinus health because when the air is too dry, nasal passages can become aggravated, and sinuses can become inflamed. The right humidifier may help loosen mucus secretions and reduce sinus congestion. Once sinus congestion has been reduced, people report feeling less sinusitis-related pain like head colds or sinus head or toothaches.


Changing one’s diet is especially beneficial for treating chronic sinusitis and may prevent having to go through surgery and the side effects of medication. When diet therapy is coupled with alternative therapy, the treatment is very effective and without any negative consequences.

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References :

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