Sinus Congestion: Alternative Methods Work

Seasonal allergies cause many frustrating symptoms, including sinus congestion. Acupuncture, essential oils and other Integrative Medicine therapies can effectively treat common sinus problems, including:

  • Allergies
  • Bacterial infections
  • Common colds

Two common therapies recommended for seasonal allergy and sinus congestion patients are acupuncture and aromatherapy.

Acupuncture for Sinus Congestion

There are two common philosophies with acupuncture — traditional and western.

With the traditional philosophy, acupuncture follows the theory that all of our life energy, known in the acupuncture community as qi, must at all times flow uninterrupted through our bodies. Qi, body fluids and blood regulate our functions and make up the body. The circulation and health of body fluids and blood depend on the proper flow of life energy. When the natural flow is interrupted or blocked, certain ailments can occur, including sinus congestion. Acupuncture operates under the belief that inserting needles into certain points along the meridians will stimulate the body and cause it to heal itself.

The western view of acupuncture in modern times can be explained as the release of biochemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones by having needles inserted into various pressure points.

This release of biochemicals is thought to help with the following:

  • Regulate the central nervous system
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Regulate body functions
  • Help ease pain

When you go for your first acupuncture appointment, you can expect very little discomfort. You will have very fine acupuncture needles inserted along points on the body.  You will relax with the needles inserted for approximately 20 minutes. Usually after an acupuncture treatment, patients experience a deep sense of relaxation and renewal.

Aromatherapy for Sinus Congestion

Essential oils such as frankincense or lavender can be used in different ways to effectively relieve symptoms of sinus congestion. The essential oils can be inhaled directly, diffused into the air that you breath or used in a bathtub. It is generally recommended that patients inhale oils rather than use them directly on their skin or ingest them.

The olfactory system includes all physical organs or cells relating to or contributing to the sense of smell. When we inhale through the nose, airborne molecules interact with the olfactory organs and, almost immediately, the brain.

Molecules inhaled through the nose or mouth are carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. Thus, inhaled essential oils can affect the body through several systems and pathways.

During inhalation, odor molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through a variety of receptor sites, one of which is the limbic system, commonly referred to as the “emotional brain.”

The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance (Higley & Higley, 1998). This relationship helps explain why smells often trigger emotions. Knowing this, we can hypothesize how inhalation of essential oils can have some very profound physiological and psychological effects!

Recommended Essential Oils

At Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine, we recommend the following essential oils to help you with your sinuses during allergy season:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Clove oil
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Roman chamomile

Your Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine provider can help you identify persistent problems and then create a plan that works for you to alleviate both acute and chronic symptoms. You can call and schedule a consultation to evaluate your symptoms.

 

By Dr. Dawn Flickema

Integrative Medicine Physician at Avera Integrative Medicine

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