Catarrh and Sinus
A holistic approach to Sinus and Catarrh problems based on good nutrition, natural remedies and a healthy lifestyle
Catarrh and sinusitis are two related conditions which cause problems for a large number of people. Catarrh refers to excessive secretion of mucus by the lining of the nose, nasal sinuses, the back of the throat and /or the air passages. A feeling of congestion results in the frequent need to blow the nose, cough, or clear the throat. There can also be a light- headed feeling , a sensation of the ears being blocked, throat irritation and persistent thirst. Sinusitis is the inflammation of one or more of the air-filled cavities of the face. There are four pairs of sinuses, located just above the eyes, in the cheekbones, and above the nasal cavity. Some symptoms of sinusitis are headache, particularly in the face, with the feeling of pressure behind the eyes; tenderness over the affected area, soreness of the roots of the teeth , and a bad taste in the mouth. A ‘sinus headache’ tends to be worse when bending over, and the sense of balance may also be affected.
Causes of Sinusitis and Catarrh
Some of the causes of catarrh and sinusitis are faulty diet, allergies, smoking, a build-up of waste products in the body, and a week immune system. The lining of the nose, throat and lungs produce mucus in order to protect the respiratory tract by washing out dust, bacteria and other foreign matter. If these linings become inflamed or overloaded with waste products, they swell up and result in catarrh or blocked sinuses. A wholefood diet including a variety of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds is usually helpful in reducing excessive mucus.
If changing your diet seems a drastic way to solve the problem of catarrh, perhaps you could at least consider the following points:
- Many people eat large amounts of highly refined and processed foods, such as sugary foods and white flour products. Because these items contain few nutrients, they can contribute to lower vitality, leading to problems with excess mucus.
- Dairy products are found by some people to contribute to excessive mucus production. If you eat large amounts of dairy products (especially the highly concentrated ones such as cheese, butter and cream) you may wish to experiment with eliminating them for a two -three week period, noting the results. Dairy substitutes are available from your local IAHS store, including soya milk, soya cream and soya yogurts, dairy free margarines and cheese substitutes.
- Some people find that oranges and orange juice can also aggravate catarrh. Again this is a matter for experimentation. Some people experience almost immediate improvement after eliminating the culprit foods from their diet.
The most common allergy we think of is hayfever, caused by pollen. However, people can also be allergic to other inhalants, to foods, and to things they touch. If you suspect that you have allergies there are two positive steps you can take:
- Try to identify and avoid the substances causing the problem, and
- Try to enhance the working of your immune system. Allergies to food are most often those things we eat daily, such as dairy products, eggs, wheat, coffee and sugar.
Paradoxically, the foods we like best or feel “addicted” to are usually the culprits.
Getting rid of waste products
Our bodies have a number of systems designed to eliminate waste products: the bowels, the kidneys, the skin, the lungs and the mucus membranes. If anyone of these is blocked, waste products build up and cause extra work for the others. Therefore, if constipation is a problem, it can aggravate catarrh or sinus problems. To avoid constipation, a high fibre diet including wholegrains and dried fruits such as prunes and figs are a delicious way to increase the fibre in your diet. Linseed can also be very helpful. It is very important to drink enough fluid as in the form of water, herbal teas or fruit juices.
In order to stimulate the lungs and skin, it is helpful to exercise daily in the fresh air. Brisk walking or cycling are ideal – any form of exercise that will cause you to breath deeply and to perspire. A brisk rubdown with a rough towel will stimulate the skin. Yoga, particularly the breathing exercises, will aid the efficient working of your lungs.
If you get colds or flu-like symptoms frequently, chances are your immune system needs a boost. A wholefood diet that includes plenty of raw or lightly cooked vegetables is a good basis for strengthening your immune system. Supplements and natural remedies can also be helpful, but we should not expect to solve all our problems with natural remedies on the one hand while we are causing them by an inappropriate diet on the other hand.
Useful supplements and remedies
- Vitamin C is an important factor in the functioning of the immune system. For people who are prone to allergies or infections, a routine daily dose of 1000mg. in a timed release formulation is sometimes useful as a preventative measure. Where an infection has set in, 500mg. taken three to four times daily has been found helpful.
- Antioxidants comprising beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium are advisable in cases of chronic sinusitis. These nutrients are available together in a single tablet.
- Garlic has antiviral and antiseptic properties. It also helps to resolve mucus congestion and also boosts the immune system. It can be taken in tablet or capsule form, some of which are completely tasteless and odourless.
- Propolis is a most useful antiviral and antibacterial agent and helps to support the immune system.
- Echinacea is a well established immune stimulant and can be of great benefit to sufferers of chronic sinusitis.
- Acidophilus, available in capsule form, is especially recommended after taking a course of antibiotics. It contains the ‘good’ bacteria which are essential for the health of the intestine. Ensure that you use only dairy-free acidophilus when you are on a dairy-free diet.
- Essential Oils can be inhaled to help to reduce the swelling of the mucous membranes and aid sinus drainage. Peppermint and Eucalyptus are two useful oils in this regard. Place 3-4 drops of the chosen oil in a small bowl of boiling water. Place a towel over your head when inhaling. These oils can also be vapourised in an oil burner.
- Biochemic Tissue Salts are homeopathically prepared mineral salts that can provide relief. These are particularly useful for treating children, as they are pleasant and easy to take.
- Homeopathy provides a range of remedies for the treatment of catarrh and sinusitis. At your local IAHS store, you can obtain help in choosing an appropriate remedy.
As stress can be a factor in the onset of catarrh or sinus problems, sufficient sleep, exercise, an adequate diet and an avoidance of emotional upsets is advisable. The Bach Flower Remedies and the Aromatic Oils can also be helpful in such cases. Ask an IAHS store assistant for information.
Catarrh and sinusitis are annoying conditions which can be brought on by diet, lifestyle, environmental pollutants and stress. By understanding the roots of the problem and treating the cause, we can rid ourselves of annoying symptoms and also be healthier in the long run.
Guide to Further Reading
- Diets to help Catarrh by Alan Moyle
- How to boost your Immune System by Jennifer Meek
- Garlic the Healing Herb by Paul Simons
- Homeopathy for the Family Wigmore Publications
- Biochemic Handbook New Era Laboratories
- A Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies by Julian Barnard
- How to live a Healthy Life by Jan De Vries
- Cooking Without by Barbara Cousins
- Better Health through Natural Healing by Ross Trattler
- Diets to help Asthma and Hayfever by Newman Turner
This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a healthcare professional.