All six of my family members would end up at the doctor or ER at least once every fall or spring (or both). Every single one of us. Every. Single. Year.
I used to joke that I needed frequent flyer miles because the chronic sinus issues and subsequent asthma or bronchitis attacks were only one of the reasons we frequented the ER. It is always bad when the intake people recognize you by name as you walk in.
BUT, in the last two years, the only one who ended up being seen by a doctor for a sinus-related-issue was me…and it was really my own fault. I was so busy making sure my sick kids were following the protocol I am about to share, that I didn’t make time to do it myself. I ended up with severe bronchitis and spent almost a week in bed.
At this time of year, my inbox is filled with questions about how to help the body so it can fight off and keep away sinus infections. So, I will share what we do in our home. First, I will share the steps, then I will share the logic behind why each step is helpful along with some reference links.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Tea: Create a “tea” with 8 oz of water at your preferred temperature, 2 tablespoons of local raw honey, and 1 tablespoon of organic ACV (Braggs or Eden Organics are two great brands). Or, add the ACV and honey to your favorite tea. Stir, and then drink. You can add two drops of lemon essential oil to help thin the mucous and a drop of a protective blend to further support your immune system.
- Netti Pot: About 1/2 hour after you finish drinking your tea, prepare your netti pot. If your sinuses are really bad and you are feeling pressure, dip a toothpick into a single drop of pure Lavender essential oil, and then swirl the toothpick into to the mixture. Use the netti pot at least 2x per nostril, or until you no longer see visible mucous exiting. Neil Med is the brand of netti pot we use and trust; you can find it at most pharmacies. You can also opt for a sinus rinse instead of the pot style. Just be sure to follow the directions and use the packets. They help to match the natural environment in your sinus passages. Regular water will burn and cause further irritation. You can also research how to make your own salt mixture, but I didn’t have much success making my own. The kids could tell the difference.
- Oregano Steam: To create the oregano steam, either (1) add 3-4 springs of fresh oregano from your garden, turn down the heat and let the oregano’s natural oils seep in the water until the water turns greenish brown, and then bring the water back to a boil before continuing; OR (2) turn off the heat, add 1 drop of pure oregano oil, stir and give it a minute to diffuse. Oregano essential oil is very potent and if you don’t pause a bit after adding it to the water, it can create a burning sensation inside already inflamed nasal passages. If you choose to use the oil, it is also helpful to add a drop of lavender, lemon, melaleuca, and peppermint.
- Apply pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils: For congestion due to virus or bacteria, we apply three essential oil blends: 2 drops of respiratory blend on the chest, 1 drop of digestive blend across the bridge of the nose, and 1 drop of protective blend behind each ear. For congestion due to seasonal or environmental discomforts, we still apply three essential oil blends: 2 drops of respiratory blend on the chest, 1 drop of digestive blend across the bridge of the nose, and 1 drop each of lemon, lavender, and peppermint essential oils behind each ear (you can mix your own oil blend by placing equal drop amounts in a roller bottle, diluted as needed). For young children and for those with sensitive skin, be sure to dilute the oils with a pure 100% carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, olive oil or grape seed oil (dilution chart).
- If viral or bacterial, take Olive Leaf Capsules: Just like with some of the essential oils, olive leaf has natural chemical properties that help the body better ward off environmental threats. It is also completely natural with no side effects. My kids don’t love the taste, but they love getting better. For our child who is not yet able to swallow the capsules, we open the capsule and mix the powder into a tablespoon of honey. She then swallows quickly and chases it with water. We choose East Park d’Lenolate Olive Leaf capsules for our family.
This protocol works like a charm for us. In a pinch or at the initial onset, we just gently blow our noses to get as much out as we can, and then follow with the oregano steam/oils. We repeat the steps both am and pm in our home, and then just reapply the oils in the middle of the day.
So why do these steps work?
Apple Cider Vinegar is very powerful at thinning the mucous which will make it easier for you to get the mucous out. Mucous sitting in your sinus passages is a perfect environment for additional bacteria to set up shop. Mixing the ACV with honey not only makes it taste better, but also helps soothe sore throats from the inflammation caused by post nasal drip. You can mix just the honey with ACV and swallow, but the water helps with hydration and thinning the mucous, so at least drink the water as a chaser if you choose this option.
The Netti Pot is the most natural and effective way to flush the extra mucous and the bacteria that may be trying to call your sinuses home. It takes a bit of practice to use it without any discomfort, but once you get the hang of it, most find it actually soothing and can feel it helping. The most important tips for success are to:
- Keep the tip of your head DOWN and tilted to the side that needs to drain out. If your head is too level, it may burn some.
- Breathe through your mouth as you are pouring the fluid into your nostril. It will not work if your mouth is closed and you are holding your breath.
- Remember that if my kids at the age of 2 could do it AND ask for it because they knew it helped; then you can surely figure it out. 🙂
If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to do this, then just gently try and blow as much of the thinned mucous out of your passages before continuing with the rest of the steps.
Oregano supports your body in fighting off environmental threats. It goes into your nostrils with the steam and helps make it a less optimal environment for bacteria to take hold. By clearing as much mucous as you can with the netti pot prior to breathing the steam, you are increasing the chances of the oil reaching any threats that are trying to take hold.
The essential oils we use in our home are extremely powerful at helping the body fight the causes of congestion. Lavender helps calm and sooth inflamed nasal passages, respiratory blend helps keep airways open, digestive blend helps reduce mucous production, and protective blend helps support the immune system so it can fight off the virus/bacteria that may be trying to set up camp. The essential oil blend of peppermint, lemon, and lavender has helped many of my clients ease seasonal and environmental discomforts that were previously uncontrolled. Because natural wellness products are not chemically altered medicines that slow release, you do need to reapply more often. My family is supported with 2-3 applications per day.
Just make sure your brand is pure, therapeutic grade (tested to ensure 100% purity and potency). You will not get the same results with food- or fragrance-grade essential oils. I personally did alot of research before choosing the brand I use, and learned that in our country, an oil labeled 100% pure may only contain 5% of the oil labeled. I trust the brand we chose, please be sure to choose one you trust as well.
Olive Leaf is very effective at helping your body kick infections and viruses quicker, and at fighting them off if taken at the first sign of symptoms. We used this even before we found essential oils, and we continue to use it when the cause is viral or bacterial because we feel it is an effective extra support and there are no side effects. Not all Olive Leaf is created equal though. We trust the East Park brand I linked to above.
There are many other helpful herbs and oils for congestion such as onion and grapefruit seed extract. We have just found this protocol and it works very well for us and for far less cost than conventional options, so we are sticking with it. I hope you have as much success in your home!
What protocols do you follow in your home to fight congestion? Please share in the comments below.
To learn more about the cleanse options, supplements, or essential oils I recommend, contact me using the form below or at firstname.lastname@example.org to request information or to schedule a wellness consultation.
Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.