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How to Treat Sinusitis Symptoms with Herbal Remedies

A common ailment, sinusitis makes it difficult for you to breathe. Herbal remedies offer natural relief to alleviate these symptoms. Learn more here.

A young woman with sinusitis symptoms inhaling the hot steam of a herbal concoction

Sinusitis is incredibly common in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28.9 million Americans are diagnosed with this ailment every year. People experience sinusitis when fluid acclimates in the sinuses. This causes germs to build up and the nose becomes inflamed and swollen. This makes it challenging for the nose to drain, thus causing mucus build-up. Some common sinusitis symptoms include difficulty breathing through your nose, swollen face, throbbing facial pain, or headache.

This is mainly due to the common cold, which is usually away in 10 days or less. However, in some cases a bacterial infection may arise, leading to longer sinusitis. Sinusitis that lasts over 12 weeks is called chronic sinusitis.

Because of the similarities of their symptoms, many people have mistaken sinusitis for the common cold, a simple allergy, flu, or even COVID-19. Therefore, the best course of action is to understand sinusitis. In doing so, you’ll be able to take the appropriate action for suitable sinusitis treatment. 

Sinusitis or sinus infection can be as deadly as COVID-19 when not treated right. Since our sinuses are located near vital body parts such as the skull and brain, the infection can spread to these areas and cause complications or even death.

That’s why it’s important to manage sinusitis correctly. Below, we are sharing more about sinusitis symptoms and treatment options. We will also look at the infection from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective and some alternative medicines with herbal remedies.

What is Sinusitis? 

A young caucasian man is having sinusitis headache while blowing his nose with a tissue
Sinusitis symptoms can be caused by internal and external factors.

While not deadly, sinusitis symptoms can increase with several risk factors. Some of them are external factors, like the common cold, seasonal allergies, irritants like dust and dander, and smoking. In addition, people with nasal polyps and a weakened immune system are more prone to sinusitis. 

Similarly, TCM also divides the factors into two, external and internal. Six external pathogens are responsible for sinusitis. They are wind, heat, damp, fire, dryness, and cold. Meanwhile, the internal factors come from latent heat in the lungs or qi deficiency in the lungs, spleen, and stomach. If it goes untreated, sinusitis can turn chronic. Additionally, according to TCM, an unhealthy diet and stress can also be related to sinusitis.

Symptoms of Acute Sinusitis

You might have sinusitis if you’re experiencing these symptoms: 

  1. Nasal congestion and discharge 
  2. Thick, yellow, or greenish mucus from the nose
  3. Blocked or stuffy nose
  4. Runny nose
  5. Pain, tenderness, and pressure around the eyes
  6. Toothache, headache, and facial pain  
  7. Fever 
  8. Fatigue 
  9. Cough 
  10. Ear pressure
  11. Loss of smell 
  12. Double vision
  13. Neck stiffness and pain
  14. Pressure in the ears and hearing loss 
  15. Bad breath (halitosis)

Many of these symptoms are similar to COVID-19 symptoms. However, symptoms of sinusitis are concentrated on the upper respiratory tract. So, if your body isn’t aching, or you’re not feeling nauseous or out of breath, you’re most likely suffering from sinusitis and not COVID-19. However, always consult a doctor and get a complete diagnosis.

Treatment of Sinusitis Symptoms 

A young brown haired woman sleeping soundly on her bed in the morning
Ample rest and time can heal sinusitis in most cases.

In general, sinusitis gets better on its own but if symptoms last for more than a week and get more severe, contact your doctor. Severe complications such as meningitis, chronic sinusitis, vision problems, and other infections can happen if untreated. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics in cases where it is needed. However, children under 6 months should only get acetaminophen and those over 6 months can get acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin is not advised to give children who have sinusitis as it can cause Reye’s syndrome, an illness that affects the brain and liver.

Last but not least, you can heal mild sinusitis symptoms by placing a warm compress over the nose and forehead. This can relieve sinus pressure. Additionally, you can practice deep breathing exercises by breathing in steam from a humidifier. Make sure the humidifier is clean and mold-free before using it. You can also get temporary relief by using a decongestant (not recommended for people with hypertension, prostate issues, glaucoma) or saline nasal spray (you should limit your use to no more than 3 days). For general practices to prevent sinusitis, drink plenty of water, get ample sleep, wash your hands, avoid contact with people who have colds, stay up-to-date with your vaccines, and use a neti pot. 

Herbal Treatment Options 

A couple enjoying cups of herbal tea to treat sinusitis in the living room
Tea containing imperata and licorice root can clear excess heat in the body, alleviating some sinusitis symptoms.

Alternatively, TCM suggests herbal remedies to alleviate sinusitis. From TCM’s point of view, this ailment can be caused due to internal or external factors. For external factors like wind heat and latent heat in the lungs, TCM recommends a heat-clearing tea made of Chinese herbs, including imperata and licorice root, to clear excess heat in the body. The properties are also found in mulberry leaf and chrysanthemum flowers. Taking cordyceps can enhance your respiratory system. Ginger tea can also be beneficial to soothe the body as well as lungs and immune health granules or a strengthening soup.

Additionally, you can combine these herbal treatments with acupuncture. Internal factors can be treated using a herbal formulation that aims to nourish the lungs and spleen qi.

As part of your sinusitis treatment, TCM also suggests consuming less fried foods and anything with high fat. Stress is a root cause of sinusitis, TCM encourages you to move and exercise to improve your overall well-being. 

Sinusitis is not deadly; however, it can progress to a severe condition in some cases. Hence, it is important that you consult your doctor if you suffer from any symptoms of sinusitis. TCM practices using herbs are also a great way to treat this ailment.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Getting Sinusitis Under Control”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.


  1. Mayo Clinic. 2021. Acute sinusitis. [Accessed on December 13, 2021]
  2. CDC. 2021. Sinus Infection (Sinusitis). [Accessed on December 13, 2021]
  3. NCBI. 2021. Sinusitis. [Accessed on December 13, 2021]
  4. CDC. 2021. Chronic Sinusitis. [Accessed on December 13, 2021]
  5. Mayo Clinic. 2018. Home Remedies: Treating acute sinusitis without antibiotics. [Accessed on December 13, 2021]

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