In modern times, we often neglect our sense of smell until a stuffy nose or an inflamed and congested sinus takes it away. Fortunately, we can learn from ancient medicine how to reduce both congestion and inflammation- leaving us free to enjoy the familiar scents of home.
As anyone who has walked through a Christmas tree exhibit can confirm, the smell of pine trees not only makes you feel good, but it opens up the nasal passages. The Amish use this scent to relieve nasal congestion.
Directions: Boil one quart of water. Adjust a few drops of essence of pine or a handful of bruised pine needles and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Carefully place the boiling water on a well-protected table in a closed room so that you can comfortably breathe in the steam for ten to fifteen minutes. A handful of crushed peppermint leaves can be substituted for the pine needles.
A moist heat massage is used throughout Asia to clear the sinuses, reduce nasal congestion, and decrease pain in the face and head.
Directions: Assemble the following: a hot washcloth, a piece of ginger, a pinch of brown sugar to keep the ginger from irritating, an eyedropper, facial tissues, a bottle of sesame oil, and a rolled towel to be placed under the neck during the massage.
Run a bottle of sesame oil under some hot water or encase it in hot cloths to warm it up. Put it aside and keep it warm. Prepare several hot washcloths and put aside. Roll the neck towel and put it aside. Get the facial tissues ready. Grate enough ginger to render three tablespoons of juice. Toss the ginger itself in the garbage. Dilute the juice with half a tea-spoon of water and mix with a pinch of brown sugar.
Now put the rolled towel under your neck and lean backwards. Gently pat some Warm sesame oil on the skin with clockwise circular motions. Apply facial tissues to the oiled face, covering everything but the nose. Apply another thin dribbling of the warm sesame oil over the layer of tissue. Apply a hot washcloth to the right side of the face. Keep on applying more cloths until the oil has been absorbed and the right side seems flushed and red. Switch and repeat massage, oil, and hot washcloth treatment on the left side.
Now you are ready to take the eyedropper, fill it with diluted ginger juice, and squeeze three drops into the right nostril. Gently massage the sinus area below the right eye with circular motions. The nasal and sinus congestion will start to break up. lt may even cause some tears. Dribble three drops of ginger juice into the left nostril. Gently massage the left sinus area under the eye.
Do not do this massage after eating a large meal or if you are menstruating or pregnant.
In the past, Russian village healers would convince sinusitis patients to avoid milk because it forms too much mucus.
Massage movements were invented thousands of years ago by Chinese monks to strengthen the sinus area and help alleviate pain from sinus inflammation.
Directions: Place the tip of the right index finger on the middle of the cheek on level with the nostrils. Gently press downwards. You should feel a little drainage. With the same finger, press and gently squeeze towards the nose. This increases drainage. Repeat on the other side of the face. Hot towels placed on this area will complete the relief.
Yehudi Menuhin, one of the world’s greatest violinists, was one of the first people to introduce yoga principles to the United States. Carnegie Hall was filled with enthralled listeners as he demonstrated and explained the significance of yoga postures.
Like a master swami, Menuhin even cleared his nasal passages with string! Most of us gasped and said we wouldn’t and couldn’t do that. But then Menuhin told us of the common preventive measures of daily washing of the nasal passages with clean, warm water to which a pinch of salt and turmeric (optional) is added.
Directions: Gently inhale the salt water mixture up one nostril. Tilt your head back and allow the mix to drain into the back of your mouth. Spit out the water. Repeat with the other nostril. The most effective way to enjoy this singular experience is to use an Ayurvedic neti pot. This is a small cup with a thin, small spout. The best way to describe it is that it looks like a toy Aladdin’s lamp.
Arab nomads use leafy sprays of the exquisite yellow-flowered elecampane (Inula viscosa) in a steam bath to clear the head of sinus aches and pains caused by nasal congestion. This herb is also favored for vapor baths designed to reduce stiffness and/ or rheumatic pain.
Directions: Place a handful of elecampane in a non-aluminium pan. Add several cups of boiling water to create steam. Lean over the pan, drape a towel over your head, and allow it to hang down on either side of the bowl. Breathe deeply and allow the steam to liquify the accumulated mucus which may be causing a sinus headache. Be careful not to burn your face.