Congestion and pressure in the interior passageways of the skull behind the nose, forehead, and cheeks. The congestion may result in a throbbing pain or a sinus headache. For some people, fever, runny or stuffy nose, loss of the ability to smell, and even a discharge of pus may result.

What is Sinusitis?

From Modern Western Medicine

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucus membranes in the cavities or air pathways beyond the nose, cheeks, and forehead. It is caused by bacterial infection that usually develops during or after the onset of a viral infection, such as the common cold. Sinusitis may also arise from an infection of a tooth, water being forced into the sinuses, or from a blow to the face.

Medical doctors treat the infection with antibiotics, decongestant sprays, or steam inhalations. If condition persists, surgery may be needed to open the blocked passageways.

From Traditional Medicine

Traditional medicine views the body holistically, so that blockages in one part of the body tend to create symptoms elsewhere. One of the axioms of Chinese medicine is that a symptom in the upper body is usually caused by an imbalance in the lower part, and vise versa. In the case of any sinus problem, including sinusitis, the problem has its origins in the intestines, which are blocked and unable to fully eliminate waste. The large intestine is lined with lymph vessels, which can reabsorb waste and recirculate it through the system. This occurs whenever the large intestine suffers from constipation or inadequate or inefficient elimination. Once the waste is reintroduced to the lymph system, the lymph becomes backed up, immune cells flood lymph nodes, and the lymph system in general becomes swollen and inflamed. The result is swollen glands (inflamed lymph nodes), tonsillitis, adenoiditis, and inflamed sinus tissue. If the large intestine continues to function in an inefficient and ineffective manner, it will create a chronic sinus condition, including sinusitis.

There are, of course, other ways to impair the lymph system and negatively affect the sinuses. An overly acidic diet causes the spleen to become imbalanced and swollen, which causes sinuses to become inflamed. The solution to sinusitis—and all sinus problems for that matter—is to support the function of the large intestine and spleen with a diet rich in fiber, vegetables, and alkalizing foods, such as miso soup.

Who Gets Sinusitis?

This is very common. Many people suffer an attack after every common cold. It seems that once the tendency is established, reoccurrence is more likely with each cold.


General Recommendations

  • See the section on constipation for improving bowel function.
  • See the section on strengthening the large intestine, spleen, and lungs in Part IV.
  • Boost immune function. See the sections on the immune system in Parts III and IV.


Food to Eat

Start with a three- to five-day mucus-cleansing diet.

  • Miso soup
  • Whole grains: If constipated, make grains wet, with thick, soupy consistency. Add a 1 tsp. of freshly grated ginger, chopped carrots, and onions.
  • A wide variety of vegetables, including leafy greens, roots, round vegetables, and squash
  • Fruit, such as grapefruit, lemons, and oranges for breakfast
  • Carrot juice at midmorning
  • Boiled or steamed onions for lunch
  • Carrot juice at midafternoon
  •  Boiled or steamed onions for dinner 


After the initial fast, enjoy the following foods:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetable juice
  • Garlic
  • Radish
  • Turnips (Chinese medicine uses turnips for lung imbalances, such as sinus problems)
  • Raw salads, especially made of lettuce, cabbage, celery, cucumber, carrots, and onions
  • Boiled and steamed onions, often
  • Tofu
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Seaweeds

Foods to Avoid

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Alcohol
  • Spices
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Tobacco


Herbs for Treating Sinusitis

  • Tea made from goldenseal or mullein: snuff a teaspoonful up each nostril several times a day
  • Garlic, chaparral, or echinacea tablets: 2 every two hours of one or alternate them until the infection is gone. If using tincture, 20 drops every two hours
  • Any of the following natural laxatives: senna, cascara sagrada, or flaxseed



  • Boil 2 quarts of water, then turn the stove off and add 15 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, or some other volatile oil to the water. Cover your head and the pot of water with a towel and inhale through the nose and the mouth several times. Do this two or three times a day.
  • Alternate hot and cold compresses
  • Nasal irrigations: beet root juice in ice-cold water, chlorophyll nasal douche, and lemon and water douche plus nasal spray



  • Vitamin A: 400 IU daily
  • Vitamin B complex

Thiamine: 1.5 mg per day

Riboflavin: 1.8 mg per day

Vitamin B6: 2 – 10 mg per day

Vitamin B12: 2 – 10 mg per day

Niacin: 20 mg per day

  • Vitamin C: 100 mg per day