You’re bunged up, your face hurts, and the pressure is getting to you. These natural remedies should make you feel better.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Very effective for preventing and treating upper respiratory tract infections, with clinical studies showing that it reduces excess mucus secretions and eases swelling of mucous membranes, which in turn improves drainage and decreases congestion.

Elderberry contains Sambucus nigra agglutinins (SNAs) which prevent viral pathogens from infecting healthy cells; a Journal of International Medical Research study has also shown elderberry to be effective against eight strains of influenza virus.

In another study, 90 percent of flu and sinus infections were cured in three days in study participants taking elderberry – half the time needed for recovery in people taking a placebo.

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)

Eyebright’s flavonoids and tannins specifically tighten mucous membranes and dry up secretions. It has tonic, anti-catarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent properties, making it an excellent remedy for catarrh, sinusitis, allergies, coughs, colds, and any acute disorders of the nasal mucous membranes causing watery discharge, especially where there is earache, headache, or distress across the eyes; infants’ colds respond well to this herb.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Antimicrobial, antibiotic, and immune-boosting, this suppresses mucus production, thus alleviating the pressure and headache of sinusitis, as well as opening the airways, and supporting the liver’s ability to detoxify allergens.

Goldenseal is a bitter herb, containing hydrastine and berberine which, when taken orally or applied topically, help fight infection.

Caution: It should be avoided by pregnant women, or anyone with high blood pressure or a heart condition.

a woman with sinus infections, sitting wrapped up in warm clothes, reaching for a paper tissue

Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata)

Ribwort contains mucilage and tannins, a combination that shrinks and soothes sinus membranes, reduces mucus production, and relieves congestion, making it particularly appropriate for sinus, nasal, and middle ear catarrhal conditions.

In herbalism, it is classified as an ‘alterative’, meaning it favourably changes unhealthy conditions of the body and restores normal function.

Golden rod (Solidago canadensis)

This has anti-catarrhal, antimicrobial, astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, it can treat influenza, colds, bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis, allergies, and upper respiratory catarrh, especially where the infection is stubborn.

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)

Renowned for its immune-enhancing, antibiotic, alterative, and antimicrobial actions, echinacea also strengthens the immune system, therefore effectively reducing the body’s sensitivity to allergens. It combines well with goldenseal and elderberry to cleanse the blood and lymph of toxic metabolites that arise during an allergic response, as well as being an effective treatment for Staphylococcus and Streptococcus infections.

Caution: Do not take if you have an auto-immune disorder like lupus or MS, as echinacea stimulates the immune system.

DIY: Antibacterial rinse

Combine 5ml of goldenseal tincture with 75ml of warm water in a neti pot, and use as a nasal rinse to remove thickened, infected mucus that has lodged in the sinus cavities. This also makes an excellent mouthwash to counter bacteria that causes the bad breath often associated with sinusitis.

Toni Green is a Newcastle-based naturopath, herbalist, and iridologist.

If you are interested in trying to keep various illnesses and conditions away in the first place, rather than treating them once they arrive, you may like to read our quick guide to supplements.


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