I’m writing this post because all three of the staff team members at Move and Inspire Me have been infected by sinusitis this year and two of us have had to have antibiotics. So we all thought it was time for a blog post on the hot topic of colds (ha ha), flu and the sometimes inevitable sinusitis that accompanies them…
Cleansing – Netti Potti
The early Yogi’s used purification techniques called Kryas which were designed to cleanse every orifice prior to the physical practice of Yoga!!!! When it comes to Sinusitis, Colds and Flu, it is easy to see why. If you’ve ever bent forward when things are blocked or snotty, you know about it as the fluid comes rushing out or the opposite, it doesn’t and you get a big headache! However, I find a marked effect if I have used my Netti Potty before bowing down so you can see why the Ayurvedic tradition recommends it highly.
The Netti Potti / Neti Pot is designed to flush the nasal cavity and clear the sinuses out and is very effective at treating conditions such as Hay Fever and mild Sinusitis. Although the Ayervedic traditionalists would advise against it’s use during a flare up of any upper respiratory tract infection, you may choose to flush anyway to get a sense of cleaning out the passages the natural way.
In fact there is serious scientific evidence that this is a jolly good plan! My own experience also backs this up. The modern terminology is Saline Nasal Irrigation and if you are interested in the stats, here is a good link for information on the modern research. A summary of the results is that you can expect to clear nasal and sinus congestion and reduce facial pain as well as reducing allergens such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander. The Neti Pot is more effective that some nasal sprays and antihistamines sold over the counter and of course does not have the same side effects, such as increasing the blood pressure as treatments such as Sudafed. It may even help to prevent colds and flu as viruses may be flushed out of the cavities before the symptoms have a chance to develop. Lastly, the saline flush helps in the treatment of asthma and nasal polyps and is helpful in the recovery of sinus surgery, all because the dreaded nasal discharge has been reduced. As an added bonus, you will be washing out pollution!
What You Need
- Neti Pot either ceramic (which looks ornamental IMHO – just click on the above picture to buy this for £13.95) or plastic. If you are prepared to wait a couple of weeks, this one will only set you back a whole £1.38!!!
- Non-Iodized salt. It quite often comes with a pot but here it is separately. You don’t need to buy large quantities as you are only putting in a tiny amount.
- Distilled water (available everywhere)
- Microwave or stove to warm the salt solution
- Something to wipe your nose (a bit thicker than a tissue, like thick kitchen towel or a flannel)
- Nasal clearance
My top tips are to do this in the bathroom and to clean the sink very thoroughly afterward. Breath through the mouth and say “ahhhh” as you pour the water in your nostril. Don’t every reuse the solution you made up and wash the Neti Pot in the dishwasher on a hot cycle to ensure no bugs form in the container before it’s next use. I leave mine by the kettle with the salt in it ready to go in the morning and do this before my meditation and Yoga practice as part of a spiritual ritual each day.
2. Sinus irrigation:
This next type or irrigation is simply revolting and it makes me feel sick but it’s very very effective at clearing out the sinuses. Only do this in earshot of someone who loves you very much!!! Not when the Christmas Guests are within ear shot…. Skip the next paragraph if you have a weak stomach!!!!!!!
Follow the above video but instead of allowing the fluid to drain out of the opposite nostril, keep your head up and straight and block the opposite nostril so no fluid can escape out of it. If you sniff in (it feels pretty horrid, like you are drowning) the deeper nasal and sinus cavities will be washed out and you can get the fluid to come out of your mouth this way. I can only manage to do this for a small amount of time before gypping but you may get very good at it and it is certainly works a treat!
If the idea of 1. and 2. seems gross to you, the funny thing is that if you try it, you find that it then seems gross not to do it! To me now after practicing this since my Yoga training in 2014, I feel much cleaner and more hygienic in the nasal department! After all, it entirely eliminates nasal secretions appearing at all the wrong unexpected times because you are clearing your system out regularly. I don’t like the idea of all sorts of pollution and contaminants living in my nose without my regular wash outs…
Hydration and Steam
The swollen, infected and blocked mucus membranes will have a hard time draining if you are dehydrated. So drinking plenty of water will help tremendously – however it often takes several days to correct dehydration so don’t just up the amount you drink for a day – make it longer.
For as little as £9.16, including free delivery (click on the above photo for a link) you can get a home facial steamer (a sauna for your face) that you can add something such as Olbas Oil too to flush out the sinus cavities and as a bonus, you skin will become cleaner and the pores open so that a deep cleanser or face mask can be used with better effect. I do this every night as I find the deep breathing you just naturally do with hot steam charging toward you is very relaxing and it helps me to sleep.
The old Vicks Vapour rub still has a place in the modern treatment of colds. It’s a little miracle jar of aromatherapy oils – Methol and camphor to calm a cough. Eucalyptus and menthol to relieve nose congestion and catarrh. Rub it on your chest and neck at night to aid sleep and decongestion during the night when things tend to be worse as you lay down. Apparently it keeps ladybirds away from your room in the summer too, though I can’t vouch for this!
Dairy is responsible for increasing the mucus secretion in the body so during a cold, allergic rhinitis or Sinusitis attack, avoid ingesting too many milk based products. Ice Cream seems to be one of the worst culprits at producing a sudden overflow of mucus within a few minutes of eating it!
Garlic is a natural antibiotic so add this to your soups and stews to help stave off a bacterial infection. You can even chew it raw (start with a sliver first) and take it down with a glass of water. Eat it 2 – 3 times per 24 hours.
Ginger tea is a healing tonic that boosts the immune system and is an anti-inflammatory. Mix with Manuka honey to increase the effect. Cut off the skin from a piece of fresh ginger and put it in the bottom of a tea cup as thin slices (or even whole chunks). Add honey to taste.
If you can stomach the taste, Apple Cider vinegar helps thin the mucus of the body. Add a tablespoon to a glass of water and sweeten with honey or Stevia to help make it palatable.
Chest Openers and Breathing Techniques
Simply taking some deep cleansing breath will help free up your respiratory system. You can free up the chest also by lying on a rolled up Yoga Mat, towel or bolster and allowing your shoulders to drop away toward the ground. One of the best techniques for clearing a chest infection is the forceful exhalation we call Kapalabhati Pranayama. Here is a little demo of it:
I find it makes me quite dizzy if I do it too long but it can also feel very exhilarating and give me lots of energy.
Warning – Don’t ignore a Sinus Infection
Bacteria love warm, moist places and an overload of mucus secretion is one of the best places for them to thrive and multiply. If you aren’t getting better after 10 days or after 5 days you suddenly get a lot worse, this is an indication that bacteria have taken hold so see your doctor as soon as possible for antibiotic treatment rather than hoping it will go away on it’s own or only with the above natural remedies.