No one likes getting a case of the sniffles. As we enter the throes of cold season and emerge into the dreaded allergies season, it’s important to have a plan when the mucus hits and your nose won’t stop running.
Although the conventional medicine industry is ripe with treatments for an overactive nostril, such as antibiotics, nasal sprays, and Sudafed, there are other, natural alternatives that won’t leave your nose dry and your body deplete of bacteria (there are some good bacteria in our bodies too!).
To stop your sinuses in their tracks, look for these natural herbs that will support your sinus health. They’ll keep you breathing easy no matter the season. If you find that you have issues with your sinuses or your throat, you might want to check out somewhere like Quantum Health to learn more about their remedies, that might be able to help you.
How Sinuses Work
Before we can understand why these herbs are magic for your sinuses, we have to understand how the nose works.
Our noses are our body’s filtration system for the lungs. Our nasal passages are designed to keep harmful pathogens from entering our lungs. They stave off everything from infections to cigarette smoke, so it’s easy to see why having a properly functioning schnoz is worth it.
When air comes in, it’s instantly heated and hydrated. Lining the walls of the sinuses are mucous membranes, which have little hairs that sweep the mucus outward to collect potentially harmful pathogens, engulf them in mucus, and drain them out of the body.
The mucous membranes in our sinuses become extra active when the immune system senses a larger threat, like when you have a cold or allergies, and flood the sinuses with mucus. The immune system also inflames the lining of the sinuses to help fight the pathogen, which can clog the nasal passageways and cause a stuffy, sometimes painful and irritated, nose.
The goal of sinus-supporting herbs is to reduce the microbes and bacteria that are irritating our immune system, reduce inflammation in the sinuses, and promote decongestion without drying out mucous membranes.
Natural Herbs to Look For
In general, a combination of these herbs is the best way to support your sinuses. Nature’s Sunshine Products Sinus Support EF capsules contain most of these herbs and is a great way to support your nasal passages and proper respiratory function any time of year.
These herbs can also be made into soothing teas, powerful tinctures, and ingested in an assortment of other ways such as a hard candy, healthful ale, or in a soup.
Also known as marshmallow, this herb has been used medicinally since Egyptian times. The marshmallow plant’s scientific name is Althaea officinalis, and it originated from Africa. The plant has short, round leaves and small, pale flowers.
Althea is commonly used to ease sore throats and dry coughs, but can also support sinuses. That’s because the plant has a soothing effect on inflamed membranes, like those that occur in your throat when it’s sore.
The plant’s extract contains flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. The flavonoids work to reduce inflammation while the rest of the extract works to coat and sooth membranes. Althea also contains the naturally occurring amino acid Asparagine.
Bitter Orange Fruit
Bitter oranges were brought to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 1500s and have been used for centuries around the world as an effective treatment for numerous ailments.
Today, bitter orange is used in just as many facets. Each part of the fruit serves a different function, but the fruit itself is largely made of synephrine, a relative to Sudafed. Though Sudafed products are commonly used to aid allergies and sinuses, synephrine is used more specifically to support nasal function.
Bitter orange fruit acts far more mildly in the body than alkaloid ephedrine, but it provides somewhat similar respiratory support. Those who prefer remedies gentler on the body may enjoy the effects of bitter orange fruit.
Although you may never have heard of burdock root before, this plant is actually very popular around the world. Burdock plant has been used in Asian cultures for many centuries as a snack, as well as medicinally. You’ll also find the root combined with dandelion to make a popular soft drink in the United Kingdom.
The burdock root has prebiotics, which makes it popular for digestive uses, its primary role medicinally. However, the plant is also known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, which makes it popular for supporting traditional cold symptoms and a sore throat.
Burdock root can be ingested in many forms. It is often thinly sliced and soaked in water to remove its slightly bitter taste. It can be taken as a supplement, juiced, or added to stir fry or soup, depending on how adventurous you are with your stew.
You probably know capsicum fruit by another name: cayenne peppers. The uses for cayenne are endless, as it has been used for everything from ulcers to arthritis.
This plant species is actually native to the Americas and its uses are wide and span across the board. Largely, capsicum has been proven to treat arthritis and cluster headaches, with substantial scientific evidence supporting both.
Capsicum has powerful painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties, which are what make it so effective in treating arthritis and headaches. Those properties are also what make it great for supporting sinuses. In fact, it is used in the nose to relieve cluster headaches and symptoms of perennial rhinitis, which is a constant runny nose not associated with allergies or infection.
Capsicum is strong, not to mention spicy!
It should be used with care and medicinally under the supervision of your health-care provider.
Know as the closest thing to the cure for the common cold, Echinacea purpurea, or the purple coneflower, is essential for flu season. The flower is part of the daisy family and resembles its relatives with bright, purple petals and a spiky, coned center, from which the plant gets its name.
Purple coneflower is your immune system’s best friend. Unlike bacteria-attacking antibiotics, purple coneflower makes our immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cells. It promotes T-cell activation, stimulates new tissue growth, and reduces inflammation.
By supporting T-cells and white blood cells in your body, purple coneflower gives your body’s soldiers what they need to fight off infections. And its anti-inflammatory properties help soothe painful sinuses.
Goldenseal was used by the American Indians for centuries, but it quickly gained traction in the European and American market for its many uses. Largely, Goldenseal is known as an herbal antibiotic and immune system enhancer.
This is largely because of the alkaloid berberine that is part of Goldenseal’s composition. Berberine aids against the infection of mucous membranes and soothes irritated mucous membranes in the oral cavity, throat, sinus, and bronchial, among others.
In addition to relieving fevers and congestion, goldenseal contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin A, C, E, B-complex, and other nutrients and minerals. If sinus support is a concern for you, this herb is a must-have in your medicine cabinet.
On the old English countryside in the 17th century, horehound was made into teas and candies to help with colds and coughs. It was also brewed into a tasty and healthful ale drunk by the Norfolk in Britain.
Today, the herb is still used as a cold and cough remedy. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to find horehound used for syrups and teas intended to mellow coughs, and also as a tonic to support digestion.
Horehound’s composition includes alkaloids, flavonoids, and diterpenes, such as marrubiin. Marrubiin, the active component in horehound, is responsible for the herb’s cough support, as it promotes the coughing up of mucus.
Although licorice might not be your favorite candy, it should be your favorite flu cure. This powerful plant is widely underused considering its numerous health benefits.
When it comes to sinuses, licorice works on multiple fronts. It enhances your body’s levels of interferon, a chemical in the immune system essential for fighting off viruses. It also has antioxidants and phytoestrogens, which seem to help stop the growth of bacteria and viruses such as influenza A.
Besides fighting off whatever is clogging your sinuses in the first place, licorice has soothing features that reduce irritation and inflammation, while also releasing mucus for a more productive cough. This has made licorice popular in supporting asthma, chest infections, and allergies.
Elderberry has been used for centuries to treat respiratory conditions, such as the flu or cold. These small, dark berries are part of the honeysuckle family and can be found in temperate, subtropical regions.
Elderberry is believed to have chemicals that reduce the swelling of mucous membranes, which helps to relieve nasal congestion. It’s more widely used for its antioxidant and immunity boosting properties, however.
Elderberry’s anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties work with antioxidants to protect the body. But, this herb is very difficult to prepare and has many varieties, some of which can be toxic when uncooked. It’s best to use elderberry under the supervision of an herbal or health-care professional.
Yerba Santa Herb
Like all the herbs listed above, yerba santa has many uses and benefits. However, it is particularly good at improving respiratory conditions.
Yerba santa opens up the lungs and helps to dissolve accumulated phlegm and move it out of the body. Phlegm removal happens in the lungs as well as the sinuses, making it a popular remedy for sinus relief.
The herb stimulates and irritates one’s mucous membranes, which helps to loosen phlegm so that it can be excreted from the body in various ways. Yerba santa can be ingested in many ways, but it is often used in natural supplements or as a tea, and is also sometimes used as a bitter chewing gum.
Although the season is calling for tissues and doctor visits, you can keep your body healthy through the use of some of these time-tested remedies. The use of herbs to support sinus health can help keep the bad bacteria out and good bacteria in your body.
Remember these natural remedies work better when used together, and should be done under the supervision of a professional.
Cheers your herbal tea to a flu-free winter and allergy-less spring!