While problems with the nasal cavity seem to become more pronounced in the winter months, nasal issues can be a serious problem for some people throughout different times of the year. This may be due to seasonal allergies, a more chronic reaction to something in your home environment such as dust or pet dander, the common cold, or other health conditions that impact your sinuses.
It doesn’t take much for nasal issues to become a real nuisance, and taking pills or medications non-stop isn’t always the healthiest option. There are certain types of herbs for different nasal issues which I discuss below that may help not only fight the symptoms you may be experiencing, but may also help relieve the underlying condition. Either way, they should hopefully bring you some form of relief!
People that have nasal discharge often experience sinuses that feel like they are constantly leaking. If you have this, you may experience a runny nose, constant sniffling, and mucous draining into your nose and down your throat. This may also cause sneezing, watery eyes, and a cough from the phlegm build-up in the throat.
When trying to combat leaky sinuses, you want to think about not only what may be causing this, but also the fact that you are already leaky and ‘wet,’ so avoiding hydrating herbs would be a good bet when battling the situation. Chances are, your body is trying to flush something, most likely an irritant, out of your system. A prime example of this is someone who is experiencing hay fever, an allergic response to pollen in the air. While this is a completely normal bodily response, it can be irritating and downright embarrassing to go about your normal everyday functions with draining nasal passages.
When you are experiencing inflamed tissues that are causing leaking orifices, you want to turn to astringent herbs. Astringent herbs help to tighten and tone the skin due to their binding action on mucous membranes, skin, and other tissues. This action helps to reduce inflammation, lessen secretions, and create a barrier on the skin that can protect against infections. The astringent properties are due to the presence of tannins in the plants, the same chemical used to tan leather.
Astringent herbs that are associated with the respiratory system and therefore may specifically help leaky sinuses include:
- Yarrow flowers and leaves
- Goldenrod leaves
- Goldenseal roots and leaves
- Eyebright leaves and flowers
- Sage leaves
- Witch hazel leaves and bark
- Blackberry root and leaf
- White oak bark
You may use these herbs by making an herbal infusion out of the plant parts and using that for an herbal steam. You may also place a cotton cloth into the infusion and then rest it inside your nasal cavity for 10 minutes or so as needed.
You often don’t hear about dry sinuses as much as you do other problems such as congestion or leaky sinuses, yet this condition can be just as annoying. When you have dry sinuses, your nasal passages often feel hot and super dry or tight, often cracking the inner skin and leaving your nose irritated and stinging. It may even make you prone to bloody noses. This may be accompanied by dry eyes and dryness of the mouth.
Dry tissues call for demulcent herbs. Demulcents are herbs that are rich in mucilage that can help relieve irritation from inflamed tissues. Demulcent herbs are best made in the form of a cold infusion (cold-brewed tea), and the most common demulcents are marshmallow root or slippery elm. The tea will be rather thick and almost slimy, but very effective. Drinking regularly will not only help with your inflamed tissues, but also help keep you hydrated which can help with dry tissues as well.
Let’s not forget that oils can help with dry tissues as well. Consider if you are getting enough oils or fats in your body. If you’re not, that may be exacerbating your dry sinuses. Adding high-quality fats to your diet in the form of coconut oil, avocado oil, or omega-3’s (such as a krill oil supplement) may benefit your inflamed tissues.
You may also use demulcent herbs in the form of a nasal compress. Simply make a cold infusion of the herbs and insert a cotton cloth that has been dipped in the infusion into the nostril for an instant soothing effect. Keep it inserted for 10-20 minutes or as needed. A neti pot may also be used as a nasal flush, but just make sure to use purified water and strain any plant material out of the infusion before using.
Other common, more mild demulcents include:
- Common mallow roots, leaves, and flowers
- Sassafras leaves
- Violet leaves
- Licorice root
Congestion is an issue encountered commonly during the cold and flu season or allergy season. The manifestation of nasal swelling and inflammation that leaves you feeling plugged up and miserable is something that is easily treated, yet far too often ignored. Either that, or over-the-counter medicines and syrups are taken that are filled with chemicals and additives that your body probably doesn’t appreciate as much as it would more natural remedies. Congestion is neither leaking or dry sinuses… All that nastiness is just stuck up there and can get quite uncomfortable. There’s a ton of mucous, but your nasal sinuses are so swollen that it hurts to blow your nose, and when you do blow your nose you get even more plugged and congested, causing your head to hurt and just aaaaaaall the uncomfortable feelings.
When dealing with congestion, aromatic herbs are your best friend. These herbs contain volatile oils that make them strong decongestants, and they often contain added antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make them a double whammy against what ails you!
Aromatic herbs can be used in the form of teas, tinctures, facial steams, food, or compresses placed on the chest or under the nose. Fire cider even works great as a natural decongestant any time of year!
Herbs that contain natural decongestant and/or antimicrobial properties include:
- Horseradish root
- Garlic bulb
- Ginger root
- Hyssop leaves and flowers
- Bee balm leaves and flowers
- Sage leaves
- Thyme leaves
- Peppermint leaves
- Elecampane root
- Eucalyptus leaves