Ayurvedic Management of Sinusitis

Sinusitis is the condition of inflamed or swollen tissues lining the sinuses. Normally, sinuses are filled with air, but when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, germs (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) can grow and cause inflammation. When you have a congested nose or coloured discharge with headache, facial pain and/or swelling around the sinuses, you may have sinusitis.

Sinusitis is known as pinas in Ayurveda. It can affect people of any age and sex. The common conditions that cause sinus blockage include the common cold, allergic rhinitis (swelling of the lining of the nose), nasal polyps (small growths in the lining of the nose), or a deviated septum (a shift in the nasal cavity).

Types of sinusitis :

  • Acute sinusitis — a sudden onset of symptoms such as runny, stuffy nose and facial pain that does not go away after 10 to 14 days. Acute sinusitis can last up to 4 weeks.
  • Recurrent sinusitis — several attacks within a year.
  • Chronic sinusitis —sinus inflammation symptoms lasting 8 weeks or longer.
  • Sub-acute sinusitis — an inflammation lasting 4 to 8 weeks.

Signs and symptoms of sinusitis :

  • Difficulty in breathing due to blockage of one or both nostrils
  • Headache — mild to intense or heaviness at the front of the head
  • Radiating pain in the ears, upper jaw and teeth
  • Feverish
  • Swelling around eyes and cheeks
  • Bad breath
  • Ear blockages
  • Cough
  • Thick mucus discharge

Causes of Sinusitis:

  • Increased intake of dry, oily, spicy foods that are too hot or too cold; foods that are heavy and hard to digest, poor food combinations
  • Impaired kapha (water element) accumulates in the sinuses and blocks the flow of vata (air)
  • Impaired pitta (fire) causes swelling and irritation of the tissues of the sinuses
  • Exposure to cold or dusty and dry weather
  • Staying awake till late in the night and sleeping in the daytime
  • Repeated respiratory infections
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Nasal polyps
  • Dust or pollen allergies
  • Infections in the mouth such as can be caused by tooth decay
  • Impaired immune system

Ayurvedic management of sinusitis:

In Ayurveda, acute sinusitis is due to aggravated kapha and vata in the region above the clavicle (collar bone). Treatment modalities involve ayurvedic detoxification (panchakarma), external therapies, internal medications, and diet and lifestyle modifications. Nasya plays a very important role in treating sinusitis.

Nasya (sinus treatment):

Nasya karma, also simply called nasya, is one of the five detoxification therapies mentioned in Ayurveda. It is highly successful in treating sinusitis.

Nasya introduces drops of medicated oil into the nasal passages where it penetrates the mucosal lining and promotes healing of the nose and sinus region. Accompanied by a gentle sinus massage, it stimulates energy movement and healing in the area.

Nasya also prevents recurrence of sinusitis.

  • Shirodhara (pouring of warm medicated oil on the forehead)
  • Oil pulling (swishing of warm oil around the mouth and gums)
  • Neti – sinus rinse with salt water (needs special instruction and advice from your ayurvedic practitioner)
  • Steam inhalation– Add either ginger, eucalyptus oil, clove oil or other medicated herbs (as prescribed) to boiling water in a bowl. Place face over the bowl at a comfortable distance, with a towel over the head, and gently inhale the steam for 10-15 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times/day while your condition is active, and then once/day for maintenance.

Yoga Exercises:

Apart from Asnas breathing exercises, ,pranayama– Alternate Nostril Breathing /anulom-vilom, and Exhalation Breathing Exercise /kapalbhati kriya gives wonderful results.

Dos and Don’ts:

  • Avoid exposure to any specific allergens and cool breezes.
  • Avoid cold and refrigerated food and drink, including cold water
  • Eat warm and cooked food and drink only hot or warm water.
  • Avoid dairy foods while you are treating sinusitis.
  • Include warming spices like black pepper, garlic, ginger, fenugreek and turmeric regularly in your diet.