Chronic sinus or allergy problems can leave you feeling as though your nose is perpetually stuffed. To breathe freely again, many sinus sufferers rely on nasal irrigation, a technique that flushes out clogged nasal passages using a saltwater solution.
“I find it to be the first line of defense in dealing with complicated sinus problems and allergy problems,” says Evangeline Lausier, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine and director of clinical services at Duke University’s department of integrative medicine. “Particularly if you are developing congestion or have a sinus infection, it’s very helpful.”
Several different types of products can be used for nasal irrigation. The most basic are a bulb syringe, squeeze bottle, or neti pot. With these devices, the user manually pours or sprays a mixture of salt and water into the nostril. The fluid flows through the nasal cavity and into the other nostril. More high-tech nasal irrigation systems propel the solution into the nose, allowing the user to control the spray and pressure.
The basic technique with all the devices is the same, so choosing a system is largely a matter of personal preference. “I think the most important thing is finding a technique that the patient can do and is willing to do,” says Melissa Pynnonen, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Michigan.
Butterbur comes from the Butterbur plant (Petasites hybridus), which is a perennial shrub found in Europe, Asia and parts of North America. It grows in wet, marshy soil, damp forests and along rivers and streams.
It has long been used as an herbal treatment for migraines, the plague, asthma, ulcers, wounds, allergies and skin infections. The best evidence, based on studies and trials, is for its use in migraine and allergy sufferers. Originally, the plant’s root was used. However, higher levels certain potentially toxic ingredients were found in the root. Now, supplements use only the leaves.
Stinging nettle, or urtica dioica, is a perennial flowering plant that has been used medicinally for ages, dating back as far as Ancient Greece. Today, stinging nettle can be found all over the world, but its origins are in the colder regions of Europe and Asia. The plant usually grows between two to four feet high and blooms from June to September. It grows best in nitrogen-rich soil, has heart-shaped leaves, and produces yellow or pink flowers.
While best known for the stinging reaction that occurs when the skin comes into contact with the fine hairs located on its leaves and stems, when processed and used medicinally, stinging nettle has a number of helpful health benefits, according to the Department of Dermatology at the Penn State University College of Medicine. (1)
Most stinging nettle products are made from the stem and leaves, but the roots also have pharmacological qualities. The herb has anti-inflammatory qualities that can affect treatment of many health issues. (2) The aboveground parts have typically aided in allergy relief and other breathing-related problems. The roots are able to provide relief for urinary disorders and enlarged prostate as well.
Also known as Indian Frankincense, boswellia is a fragrant resin with the capacity to support the body in naturally regulating a healthy inflammatory response. While inflammation can be healthy, normal and helpful in acute cases like that of a sprained ankle, prolonged inflammation inside the body – which we cannot see and often do not know about until symptoms occur – can lead to many chronic issues.
BoswelliaAyurvedically speaking, Boswellia has the dual energetics of being both heating and cooling at the same time. As a heating herb, Boswellia supports circulation, while as a cooling herb, it supports the body in cooling inflammation.