Most of us catch at least one cold during the winter months – and if we’re not careful, a simple cold can develop into a nasty sinus infection that lingers.
While the typical remedy for a sinus infection is an antibiotic, there are good reasons to minimize your antibiotic intake. In many cases, your body’s natural immune defenses can do a great job of fighting a sinus infection.
You can recognize a sinus infection from these symptoms:
Disclaimer: If you think you have a sinus infection you should always check with your physician. And before trying any of the information below it’s important to always check with your physician first. It’s just smart 🙂
The key to fighting a sinus infection is using the right home remedies with natural ingredients to give your body what it needs. With that in mind, here are 8 home remedies to help fight sinus infections this winter.
Onions add flavor and depth to food, but it turns out that they’re also helpful in fighting sinus infections. They have natural anti-bacterial qualities, which is important because sinus infections inevitably involve a collection of bacteria in the sinuses.
Onions are also a natural source of a compound called quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many plants. Besides onions, some of the best sources include green tea, apples, berries, and gingko biloba.
The best way to use onions to combat a sinus infection is to take a small onion and chop it up. Bring some water to a boil and add the chopped onion to it. Boil the onion for five minutes and then pour the liquid into a cup or bowl. You can inhale the steam, which allows the anti-bacterial properties of the onion to clear out your sinuses.
For an extra boost of the onion’s infection-fighting power, you can also drink the liquid. We can’t promise that a cup full of hot onion water will be delicious, but it will help clear your sinuses and fight the infection.
The Neti pot is a popular home remedy for sinus congestion, allergies, and sinus infections. The Neti pot originally came from the Ayurvedic medical tradition, which is traditional Indian medicine. Its popularity in the United States and around the world as a natural remedy has been on the rise.
Neti pots use a saline solution to flush out the sinuses and nasal passages. There is some scientific evidence to support the use of a Neti pot. For example, we found a large study from the United Kingdom that reviewed patient results from 72 medical practices using the Rhinosinusitis Disability Index (RSDI) to measure the results of patients who used Neti pots.
The study concluded that patients who performed regular sinus irrigation experienced:
If you decide to try nasal or sinus irrigation, it is extremely important not to use tap water. Chemicals and bacteria found in tap water can worsen your symptoms or even cause significant brain inflammation. Instead, use distilled or sterile water in a saline solution for the best results.
If you have ever eaten fresh horseradish, you know that this root has a powerful ability to cut through sinus congestion. That’s due to its high content of a compound called isothiocyanate.
There is some scientific evidence to support the antimicrobial properties of horseradish and isothiocyanate. For example, we found a study from 2013 that tested the ability of isothiocyanate to fight against bacterial infections. It concluded that some types of bacteria were highly susceptible to isothiocyanate, including H. influenzae and Candida. Others, including S. pneumoniae and K. pneumoniae, had an intermediate level of susceptibility.
To reap the antimicrobial benefits of horseradish, grate some fresh horseradish and place it on your tongue. Do not chew it. After a few minutes, the flavor and the isothiocyanate will disperse, at which point you can chew and swallow the horseradish. The horseradish will clear your sinuses and help flush any excess mucus away.
Apple cider vinegar gets a lot of positive attention as a home remedy for everything from digestive issues to acne. In addition to the other benefits you may have read about, apple cider vinegar may also be a good home remedy to try for chronic or acute sinusitis.
The thing that makes apple cider vinegar so beneficial to human health is something called “the mother,” which is a collection of healthy bacteria and enzymes that ferment the vinegar. We found a 2018 study that concluded that apple cider vinegar has beneficial antimicrobial benefits, including the ability to fight and kill bacteria such as:
To use apple cider vinegar to treat a sinus infection, we suggest warming it gently in a pan or in the microwave. Take one teaspoon three times a day.
We do want to give you a word of warning. People who have an issue with tooth decay may not want to consume undiluted apple cider vinegar, since the acetic acid can erode the enamel on your teeth. Try diluting the apple cider vinegar and adding it to hot water before drinking it.
Grapefruit seed extract is widely available as a supplement and can be found online and in many health stores. As you already know, grapefruit is a citrus fruit that’s high in Vitamin C, an important vitamin for immunity.
Of all the remedies on this list, we were most impressed with the antibacterial properties of grapefruit seed extract. A study from 2018 concluded that natural grapefruit seed extract was lethal to more than 800 bacterial and viral strains and over 100 types of fungus. It was also effective at combatting many species of single-celled and multiple-celled parasites.
Just as importantly, the study found that grapefruit seed extract is non-toxic even at high concentrations. Taking grapefruit seed extract may help to prevent the growth of harmful bacterial in your sinus passages as well as working to kill existing bacteria and get rid of sinus infections.
#6: Vitamin D
Vitamin D, which is also known as the sunshine vitamin, may play a key role in preventing and healing sinus infections.
We found a 2015 study that examined serum levels of Vitamin D in patients with sinus infections. It found that patients with lower levels of Vitamin D were more likely to have severe sinus infections than patients whose levels of Vitamin D were in the normal range.
Another study found that Vitamin D supplementation could help to prevent rhinosinusitis in patients. The best natural source of Vitamin D is direct exposure to sunlight, but you can also get what you need by taking a supplement or seeking out foods that are enriched with Vitamin D, including:
The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D is 600 IU for most people, but if you’re over the age of 70, you’ll need a minimum of 800 IU.
One of the easiest ways to get relief from sinusitis is to use a humidifier in your home. Humidifiers add moisture to the air and may help to loosen congestion and clear up the sinuses.
Humidifiers may be especially beneficial when they are used in conjunction with a natural essential oil with antimicrobial properties and antiviral properties. One popular choice is eucalyptus. Research shows that it is effective against the following bacteria:
We suggest adding several drops of pure eucalyptus oil to your humidifier before plugging it in. Other essential oils to consider include:
We do not recommend using essential oils on babies under the age of 3 months. You should always check with your pediatrician before using any natural remedy on children.
One of the most painful symptoms of sinusitis is a headache that centers around the nose, eyes, and forehead. The headache is most often caused by pressure in the sinuses caused by congestion.
Our final natural remedy involves the use of a hot compress. We suggest using a clean towel soaked in hot water. Simply apply the compress to your sinuses and let it sit. The heat will loosen sinus congestion and make it easier to clear your sinuses.
This is a remedy that may be most useful when combined with other remedies. For example, you could apply a warm compress first and then use a Neti pot. Or, you could add a few drops of essential oil to your warm compress to get additional relief from your symptoms.
Sinus infections can be unpleasant and painful. The 8 natural remedies we have presented here may help to relieve your symptoms. Make sure to check with your doctor if you have a persistent sinus infection that won’t clear up, since you may require treatment with antibiotics.