The Cure for Spring Sinus Hell

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

May 02, 2012

  • The downside of an early spring and mild winter
  • Remedies that help you avoid antibiotics
  • Before you reach for over-the-counter drugs, try these

If you’re in a state of continual stuffy-head-and-drippy-nose-itis, you’re not alone. While an early spring and mild winter seemed like a blessing at first… it’s turning out to be a curse for many.

Even if you don’t usually experience seasonal allergies, you might this year. And if you suffer every year, odds are you’re completely miserable. Plus, the lack of cold weather has more virulent viruses and colds making the rounds as well.

With these conditions, your congestion can drag on and on. Until it becomes hard to know exactly what you’ve got. Allergies? A cold? A virus, yeast, mold? Chronic sinusitis? Or some combination of everything!

More important, how can you get relief?

It may be tempting to turn to antibiotics. Your doctor might be more than happy to write you a prescription. But is that the way to go?

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The longer you’re congested, the more tempting it is to get a prescription. After all, doctors prescribed antibiotics for years, just to see if they would work. It was simply faster and easier than running tests to get a diagnosis.

Even though most doctors now know this is a bad idea… many will still crumble under a patient’s demands for a prescription. Or, when faced with time and insurance constraints, will take the easy road of prescribing before diagnosing.

But you and your drippy nose can end up being the losers of that game.

Antibiotics tend to weaken – not strengthen – your immune system. So you can become depleted of the reserves you need to fight whatever you actually have.

And worse, they just don’t work. A recent study showed that wait-and-see was just as effective as antibiotics in clearing up acute rhinosinusitis.

In other words, with or without antibiotics, your body will clear the mucous out when it’s good and ready. And not before.

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Of course, wait-and-see doesn’t provide much symptom relief. For that, I always recommend trying the old-fashioned approach… irrigating with a natural nasal spray or neti pot:

Natural Nasal Spray: Simply mix up a solution of one-quarter teaspoon each of kosher salt and baking soda in eight ounces of purified water. Pour it into a small squeeze bottle and squirt once into each nostril twice a day. It’s easy, affordable and convenient.

Neti Pot: This Ayurvedic remedy has been practiced for thousands of years throughout India, and has begun to catch on here among natural health practitioners. It works by simply sending a gentle stream of lukewarm water through the nasal passages, washing away pollens, mucus, viruses and bacteria.

And that’s what makes this an effective remedy, regardless of your diagnosis.

You can pick up a neti pot at many drug stores or health food stores, or even online. Simply insert the filled neti pot into one nostril. Turn your head to the side, raise the neti pot and slowly pour the salt water into your nose, allowing it to flow out of the other nostril. Not sexy, but effective.
But there are a few other things you can try to get some relief.

Before there were antibiotics, there was silver. There’s a reason why the ancients served everything from water to food on silver platters! Silver kills everything.

You can still use silver to your advantage in modern times. Look for oligodynamic silver liquid – either in stores or online. There are only two that won’t cause “blue man syndrome” – a skin discoloration resulting from silver intake: Argentyn 23 and Sovereign Silver. One resource is:

Also, since your nasal passages are essentially an air filter, you might want to help them out a little by getting… a HEPA air filter. That is, for your home. This will help remove potential allergens before they make it to your nose, giving it a bit of a break.

Also, limit foods that increase mucous production, such as dairy, eggs, wheat and vegetable oils. You should also increase your intake of fruits, especially pineapple, lemon and limes, and grapefruit. And drinking coconut water can have a cleansing effect that clears mucous out.

And last but not least, load up on the garlic and onions, and if you can tolerate spicy foods, cayenne pepper and ginger. All of these have mucous-clearing properties helping clear out the pathogens causing all the congestion. Plus, they support the immune system.

Now, if you feel tempted to reach for over-the-counter remedies while you “wait-and-see” if it will pass, you might try the following supplements…

If you need the relief of an antihistamine, give either stinging nettles (600mg daily) or butterbur (50-100mg twice a day with meals) a try before heading for the Claritin or Zyrtec. They have both performed well in studies, and neither will leave you drowsy.

If you’ve been struggling with allergies for an entire season, even blowing your nose several times a day can cause inflammation, which causes you to feel stuffy, and produces a cycle that’s hard to break. Reducing inflammation might also help with the headaches that are common during times of congestion.

So if your nasal passages seem more swollen than drippy, you might try bromelain, an enzyme that reduces swelling and inflammation. And if you are more drippy than swollen, try quercetin (500 mg twice a day) and vitamin A (10,000 IU 2-3 times a day for 3-4 days).

Of course, if your symptoms linger, do go to the doctor and find out exactly what’s going on. Just be sure they perform tests and come to a clear diagnosis before writing you a prescription and sending you on your way.


Garbutt JM, et al Amoxicillin for acute rhinosinusitis: A randomized controlled trial, JAMA 2012; 307(7): 685-692.

Roschek B Jr. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research. 2009;23:920-926.

Schapowal A. Treating intermittent allergic rhinitis: a prospective, randomized, placebo and antihistamine-controlled study of Butterbur extract Ze 339. Phytotherapy Research. 2005;19:530-537.

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