Published 12/21/2013. Last updated 1/11/2014.

For many years I had a wide variety of gradually worsening allergies and nasal problems –  constant stuffiness, frequent sinus infections, allergic rhinitis, and nasal polyps that made it difficult to take a full breath and needed to be surgically removed through my nose – twice.
I often felt like large bears had taken to sleeping behind my cheekbones, causing a sharp ache in my eye teeth, sensitivity to light, a tenderness in the bridge of my nose that made wearing glasses painful and such swollen nasal and sinus tissue I couldn’t ever blow my nose. I also had unpleasant reactions to all the decongestants I was given and most antihistamines too. I remember lying on the couch after taking a prescription pill containing both a decongestant and antihistamine, my sinuses so dried up I could hardly breathe and my heart beating so rapidly I thought I was going to die but was unable to lift my head or get up to call for help.

During this time, I regarded the sinuses as diabolical areas in the head existing for no purpose other than to cause much misery.
I’ve since learned our sinuses are necessary: Along with warming and moisturizing the air on its way to our lungs, they allow us to balance our big-brained heads on our relatively meager necks so we can walk upright on two feet. These empty spaces in our skulls lighten the weight of our heavy heads so we’re not like the rhinoceros, whose head is so weighty the animal often keeps it resting on the ground.

After that second nasal polyp surgery, I told my ENT doc that I needed to find a non-surgical/non-pharmaceutical way to fix both my allergies and sinuses. He was a good guy and asked me to please let him know when I’d found the information I was seeking.  So far it has been a 30+ year journey to figure this out – and I’m sure there’s still much to learn.


  • Sinuses are cavities – hollow air spaces  inside the bones of the head surrounding the nose.
  • As shown in the photo above, there are four sinus areas in the human head.
  • They are lined with soft pink tissue called mucosa.
  • Healthy sinuses are empty except for a thin layer of mucus.
  • Sinus infection (acute sinusitis): When a viral or bacterial infection lodges in the sinus cavities, a painful condition call sinusitis results. The tissues become inflamed, mucus production increases, the nose runs or is congested, a pressure headache develops and thinking becomes foggy. There can also be facial pain in the forehead, around the eyes, and cheeks; a feeling of weakness; and a postnasal drip as the mucus drains down the back of the throat, often producing a sore throat. A cough may result, frequently more severe at night.  Sinus headaches can also trigger a nasty migraine in people with a predisposition to them.
  • Allergic rhinitis:  Pollen, dust mites, pet dander or other allergens cause the defenses in the nose and sinuses to overreact, resulting in increased mucus production, nasal stuffiness, sneezing and itching.
  • Chronic sinusitis:  Chronic sinusitis (or chronic rhinosinusitis) is a persistent inflammation of the sinuses with many of the symptoms described above for acute sinusitis from a sinus infection.
  • Deviated septum: If the septum (the structure made up of bone, cartilage and mucus membrane that divides the interior of the nose) deviates too far too one side, airflow can be obstructed and infections can more easily be established in the sinuses.
  • Turbinate hypertrophy: In turbinate hypertrophy, the ridges on the nasal septum are enlarged, obstructing airflow.
  • Nasal polyps: In response to chronic inflammation, asthma, chronic sinus infections and allergic rhinitis, hollow balloon-like sacs called polyps can grow inside the nasal cavity. (WebMD, 2005-2013) These sacs tend to get sucked forward when the sufferer tries to inhale, effectively blocking breathing through the nose. (Personal experience)
  • Sinusin – a homeopathic nasal spray that actually helps and doesn’t cause a rebound effect like pharmaceutical sprays or drops
  • Sinus Relief Mint Pillow – an herb-filled hot/moist/cold pack made by Nature  Creations specifically for sinus relief
  • Neti pot – a small pot used to irrigate the sinuses with water and sea salt

Here’s a video showing how to use a neti pot.
Try using your neti pot in the shower, where there’ll be no clean up afterwards and you can use a hand to brace yourself against the shower wall in case you feel a little dizzy from tipping your head to one side. You’ll probably have to experiment a bit to find the correct angle to hold your head so the water flows into your sinuses instead of down your throat – but I assure you that regular use of a neti pot is really helpful in keeping your sinuses clear and you’ll come to love it.
I can also tell you from personal experience that if your sinuses are highly inflamed and congested, the neti pot won’t work because the salinated water won’t be able to pass through the very swollen tissues.
And I came across the suggestion of adding the contents of a probiotics capsule to a neti pot along with the  water and sea salt. It apparently burned a lot for about 10 minutes – but totally relieved the ice pick sinus pressure from the sinus infection the woman had been suffering with for some time. I haven’t tested this myself – let me know how it works if you decide to try.
Be glad I’m not recommending you practice Sutra Neti – guiding a thread through the nostrils to cleanse the sinus passages as some in India do!

We tend to hold a lot of tension in our necks and shoulders. Misaligned posture and hours of sitting in front of computers only add to this tension. Neck stretches feel good and help release some of that tension. Here’s a nice one you can do while seated at a desk.  Here’s another. This longer ear reflexology video is quite interesting too. This is my all time favorite for a simple way to release tension in the neck.
Sinus congestion sometimes comes from bones in the neck  that have become misaligned causing the muscles that attach to them to become swollen or spastic, closing off lymphatic drainage of the head and neck. Chiropractic adjustments can repair the misalignments. (Hilty, 2010)  For more information on sinuses and chiropractic see Sinus infections respond to chiropractic .


Lymphatic drainage massage can be very helpful for sinus congestion. This nice video demonstrates how to do it: Self Lymphatic Drainage for Sinus Congestion  See contraindications for this technique here.


This is a fast, useful way of using acupressure points to clear your sinuses in a very short time: Push your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth while using a finger to apply pressure between your eyebrows. Hold it about 20 seconds and your sinuses will begin to drain when you let go.


Contrary to what we’re told as children when caught eating what we’ve harvested from our noses, it turns out that this  may help us build up our immunity to the environmental pathogens contained in those boogers. An interesting article called Don’t Pick Your Nose: Never Mind, Boogers May Be Good for You presents an argument, based on the Hygiene Hypothesis, that consuming boogers introduces environmental pathogens (infectious agents causing illness) to our immune systems, helping to build up defenses against future exposures.
The Hygiene Hypothesis is an important concept positing that exposure to infectious agents (eg, viruses, bacteria and parasites) and symbiotic microorganisms (eg, good gut flora called probiotics)  helps us build up a natural immunity to the harmful ones.
If we regard ALL germs as dangerous so create too cleanly an environment for our children, they aren’t able to build up their natural resistance to pathogens, making them more susceptible to developing allergies, asthma, skin conditions like eczema and a wide variety of other illnesses and conditions – including all the autoimmune conditions, heart disease and depression. Specifically, lack of exposure is believed to lead to defects in the establishment of immune tolerance. See the Symbiosis vs Dysbiosis page on this site for more information.
I feel uneasy every time I see ads for Neosporin essentially equating good parenting with use of the ointment. Some ads even advise parents to use it every time on every cut.  Neosporin is a triple antibiotic ointment  containing three antibiotics: neomycin, bacitracin and polymyxin.
Having grown up in a time before widespread use of antibiotic ointments, I don’t recall a minor cut, abrasion or burn ever becoming infected. The US is the only large market for Neosporin. There is concern that its widespread use contributes to the increase of antibiotic resistant bacteria, including MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Mounting research evidence shows that trying to keep our indoor environments and ourselves overly sterile backfires and actually increases our risk of developing acute and chronic diseases.



The SUPER IMMUNITY page on this site contains information on strengthening your immune system. Boost your immune system and you’ll greatly help your sinuses – and your health in general.
See the ASTHMA page for a discussion of emotions and illness.



Hilty, D. (2010). Personal communication.

WebMD (2005-2013). Allergy Health Center. See


© Copyright 2013-2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

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10 thoughts on “Sinuses

  1. Hi Joan!

    I am so intrigued with your sinus cleanse that you are doing involving garlic and probiotics. I am pretty biofilms are at work in my left sinus. I am curious, do you still do your Neti pot mixture daily or once you’ve help clear biofilm cut back? I’m desperate. Thanks so much, Jess

  2. HI,

    I was so happy come across your website. There is so much info that I will read.
    The first article I found was the one where you were rinsing your sisnues with the garlic then the probiotics.

    After 6 years of chronic stress I’ve developed stuffy sinuses, sore eye pain, and headaches. I deal with these all the time, daily!!!

    I think its connected to my gut which was damaged during the stressful period, but no one has been able to help me.

    So i started to do your garlic rinse tonight, and i have a question, did you do the probity rinse straight after?

    Many thanks, and keep up the GREAT work.

    1. In the interest of figuring out what is helpful to you, I’d say to wait a day before washing your sinuses with probiotics. That way, you’ll be better able to tell which wash does what for you.

      I hope you’re also going to address repairing the lining of your gut & implanting colonies of good probiotics in there. This is what has helped me:

      Start slowly – I’d say start with either GI Revive or IntestiNew 1X/day for three days, then go up to 2X/day for another three days. Once you’ve been on it 3X/day, start adding in the probiotics in the same way. Maybe a week after that, add in Vitamin D3 and a week later start adding in magnesium. Regaining health is a process but really doesn’t take much work.



      The first step in getting your health back is to repair the mucosal lining of your gut, where your probiotics (good gut bacteria) live. Two nutritional supplements that help with that:

      GI Revive offers comprehensive support for optimum gastrointestinal health and function. The lining of the gut must have proper permeability and integrity so it can not only absorb nutrients, but also prevent toxins, allergens and microbes from gaining access to the blood stream. Maintaining gut health is the key to maintaining overall wellness. GI Revive is available in capsule and powder form. The powder, which is sweetened with organic stevia, can be mixed into any beverage or functional food powder and can be used as part of a health program for achieving optimal GI health and regularity.

      Made with non-GMO ingredients.

      • DIGESTIVE HEALTH: Made with L-glutamine, N-acetyl D-glucosamine to target occasional bowel and digestive stress*
      • INTESTINAL WELLNESS: Specially designed to support intestinal lining wellness*
      • ANTIOXIDANT: Formulated with select herbs to provide antioxidant support *
      • DAILY SUPPORT: When taken regularly, IntestiNew can help increase digestive health and nutrient absorption*
      • GLUTEN FREE: Dietary supplement guaranteed for quality, purity, and potency through expiration

      Both supplements consist largely of l-glutamine (AKA glutamic acid – an essential amino acid that’s a main element in the gut lining. The powder form of both is stronger but the capsule form is also good & more convenient. It’s usually recommended to start with the powder & then switch to the capsules if you want.

      Dose for the capsules: 2 before each meal

      The next step is to repopulate your gut with lots of good probiotics.

      1. Dr Mercola’s Complete Probiotics
      This is a good source of bio-available probiotics.

      I’ve been taking 2 before each meal lately since my gut was in bad shape again over the summer. Start with 2 before breakfast & work up to 2 before each meal as with the l-glutamine supplements.

      Info on Dr Mercola’s Complete Probiotics:

      2. Spore Restore Probiotics


      For optimal gut health, you need two different types of good bacteria: Reconditioning probiotic spores, or Soil-Based Organisms (SBOs), to condition your gut and support the growth of good bacteria, and reseeding probiotics.
      Think of it like a garden… The spores act as the gardener. Like any good gardener, they pull weeds, detoxify the soil and replenish its energy and nutrient content. Spore probiotics provide a healthy foundation and growth medium.
      Then you need seeds. Reseeding probiotics provide the new seeds to replace the good plants in your garden that wither due to a lack of proper soil nutrients, or assaults like harsh chemicals and herbicides.
      You need both for your garden to thrive, and so does your gut.
      Soil-based organisms (SBOs) are bacteria spores that work in your gut much like the gardener. Spores provide key “reconditioning” strains of bacteria that help protect and recondition your gut flora, and prepare it for the introduction of probiotics. They help your microbiome recover from on-going assaults by fluoridated and chlorinated water, stress, medications, processed foods and refined sugars, EMFs, and pollution.
      Our ancestors’ diets included these bacteria spores, but today people avoid touching dirt and thoroughly scrub their vegetables to remove all traces of soil along with their naturally occurring organisms.
      Complete Spore Restore tis formulated to include four outstanding soil-based spores or spore biotics and a prebiotic organic blend of three highly valued mushroom mycelium to potentially help:
      • Improve the condition of your microbiome and gut integrity*
      • Promote tight junctions in your gut epithelial lining*
      • Support a normal inflammatory response in your gut and body*
      • Enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients*
      • Lower the pH in your gut to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria*
      • Support your body’s immune function*
      • Reduce unwanted biofilm effects to help fight pathogenic bacteria*
      • Support your GI tract’s detoxification processes*
      • Boost the production of short-chain fatty acids by as much as 40 percent*
      • Enhance the benefits of Complete Probiotics (reseeding probiotics)*

      Because your gut needs both kinds of probiotics, I believe many people will benefit from taking both Complete Spore Restore and Complete Probiotics especially if you have a compromised gut or if any of these situations apply to you:
      • You’ve taken antibiotics any time during the last two years
      • You’ve had surgery or a hospital stay within the last two years
      • You’ve travelled to another country in recent months (your microbiome can change in as little as 24 hours!)

      3. Kefir – a great source of probiotics


      One of the many great things about kefir is that the fermentation process consumes almost all the lactose in milk so it’s not upsetting for people with a lactose intolerance.

      Organic, plain kefir is preferable to any of the flavored versions, which contain refined sugar. It’s nicely tart & a bit yeasty tasting. You can add raw honey or organic fresh fruit to it if you want to sweeten it. Kefir is good to drink anytime. It’s also great to give to babies, including to newborns.

      I recommend getting a copy of Donna Schwenk’s useful book about the benefits of kefir & other fermented foods:
      Cultured Food for Health: A Guide to Healing Yourself with Probiotic Foods Kefir * Kombucha * Cultured Vegetables,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

      A highly informative post about the importance of fermented foods by Donna Schwenk:



      Dose: 1 before each meal


      Why we need to maintain an adequate level of magnesium:

      MAGNESIUM DEFICIENT PEOPLE 76% MORE LIKELY TO GET PANCREATIC CANCER – agnesium Deficient People 76% More Likely to Get Pancreatic Cancer – 80% OF US ARE MAGNESIUM DEFICIENT

      Good magnesium supplements:
      Designs for Health – Magnesium Buffered Chelate
      Dose: 2 after breakfast

      Designs for Health – NeuroMag – 144mg Chelated Magnesium Threonate for Brain Support

      • REPLENISHES A CRITICAL MINERAL – Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the human body, where it is involved in over 300 enzyme reactions. It plays a pivotal role in maintaining already healthy bone, energy production, muscle relaxation, heart health, and in supporting a healthy nervous system. Suboptimal levels of magnesium are commonly seen in the US population and can be affected by stress, alcohol consumption, exercise, excessive sweating and certain medications
      • UNIQUE MINERAL – NeuroMag features the unique mineral, magnesium L-threonate, which is magnesium chelated to threonic acid (a metabolite of vitamin C)
      • PATENTED INGREDIENT – NeuroMag, uses the unique, patented, chelated mineral Magtein, magnesium which is chelated to threonic acid (magnesium L-threonate). It is superior to other forms of magnesium at supporting brain health
      • Unlike many forms of magnesium, threonate easily crosses the blood brain barrier.
      Dose: 1 after lunch + 2 at night before bed

      Why we need to maintain an adequate level of D3:


      Metagenics, D3 5000
      This supplement is a high quality source of bio-available Vitamin D3.

      OMEGA 3s VS OMEGA 6s

      Omega-3 essential fatty acids support heart, brain and mental health; reduce cancer risk and help cancer patients recover; help prevent and ease arthritis; reduce the risk of eye problems; and keep the skin and scalp healthy.




      Via the gut/brain axis, the state of your gut microbiome has an enormous influence on mood.

      I’m not trained or licensed as an MD. Everything I recommend and put on my website is based on my own experience plus considerable research into the topics.

  3. Five years ago I developed a problem with my sinuses. This became an on-going issue and the season of the year did not matter – I constantly had a runny nose and often had difficulty breathing. I tried nose strips and at least 8 different supplements and nothing seemed to help. I finally resolved that I would have to live with a box of tissues at my side at all times. About 6 weeks ago I tried another supplement that I read about on the internet – Black Seed Oil. I ordered “Amazing Herbs Black Seed Cold-Pressed Oil – 32 oz.” on It is available in several sizes and also in capsules. This is quite an amazing product. Black Seed Oil is a Middle East oil that has been used for more than 2000 years for multiple health issues. I was taking 1 teaspoon of the oil twice a day along with orange juice as it has a very strong taste. Honey and orange juice are both suggested to mask the strong taste. For me, it took about 20 minutes and my sinuses started to clear up. After using this for 5 weeks, the issue is about 90% resolved. One of the user comments on the Amazon product page said that he/she took more than 1 teaspoon and it got to be more effective. This product helps many health issues. I found it also got rid of an area of psoriasis that I had on one elbow for 5 years that would not go away (and I had tried at least 6 or 7 oils and supplements with no result). The psoriasis went away by taking this product orally. I also put the oil directly on a rash that I had on my forehead before going to sleep. This product is an oil, and if you try using the oil on your face at night, place a towel on your pillow. This did help the rash condition significantly after 4 days. I believe that this product needs to be taken as an on-going supplement when used for sinus issues. I am absolutely thrilled with this product and plan to use it on-going.

    Here is a list of the health issues Black Seed Oil is supposed to help: – Allergies, cat allergy, asthma, sinus, runny nose, sinus headache, throat pain, cancer, colds, flu, bronchitis, fungus, acne, MS, insomnia, ulcers, tumors, infected tooth, lowers Blood Pressure for mild hypertension, psoriasis, eczema, skin rashes and disorders, diaper rash, systemic inflammation, improve immune system, weight loss, hair loss,
    arthritis pain, artery plaque, and chemical warfare (chemtrails). It is also has anti-fungus, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties.

    I ordered Black Seed Oil due to the positive customer reviews on Amazon. To read Customer Reviews related to a specific health issue, on the product page, scroll down to Customer Reviews and look in the right column for the “Search Customer Reviews” box – enter your search term there and press enter. You will then get reviews that include the issue you are investigating.

    Black Seed Oil can be ordered in the oil form or in capsule form. I haven’t tried the capsule form but that may be a way to not deal with the terrible taste.

    Due to my 5 years of research I believe that all of my health issues were the result of eating gmo foods and foods that are sprayed with Roundup (containing glyphosate) and other pesticides and herbicides that contain glyphosate. My health issues have all improved or ceased by not eating gmo foods, not eating foods that are sprayed with Roundup or glyphosate, eating organic food and taking supplements that replace nutrients that are chelated (removed) from the food one eats by gmos and glyphosate. After 5 years of research I believe that many of the common health problems in the United States are due to the poisoning of the food supply, the environment and the water. One can gain information on this topic by viewing Youtube videos where the speaker is Dr. Stephanie Seneff. You can also view videos by Dan Huber on Youtube that relate to this topic. This title on Youtube is an especially good source: Zen Honeycutt Moms Across America discusses health, toxicity, gut dysbiosis & healing children.

    The reason that I posted a comment to this web page is the very rapid improvement that I experienced when using Black Seed Oil. I am not associated in any way with the maker of this product. I am a writer, trainer, and process auditor. I want to thank the writer of this web site for sharing her research, knowledge and experience – and also making it entertaining reading. My compliments.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Jane. They’re chock full of useful information.

      The momentum against GMO foods is growing as Moms Across America & other organizations publicize their danger to humans & all other animals, the soil’s microbiome, and our water supplies. Hopefully the US is finally reaching a juncture where GMO foods will at the very least be labeled & then enough pressure can be brought on the FDA to ban them along with glyphosate. Even Vladimir Putin, no great humanitarian, has been speaking out against GMOs – and the Russian government decided to ban production of goods using genetically modified organisms.

      I’m especially interested in Black Seed Oil & will check out people’s comments about it on Amazon. I’d also been reading about Black Seeds (black cumin seeds). A few months ago I spotted a jar of them (whole seeds, non-GMO, non-irradiated – Amazing Herbs brand) at my local health food store & have been sprinkling them over my breakfasts (organic sweet potato, mango, and crunchy almond butter). They’re a little spicy (in a way I find pleasant). Perhaps in their concentrated oil form the taste is a lot stronger.


    2. This is an additional comment to my post about Black Seed Oil. I tried taking Black Seed Oil with honey and this did help to mask the terrible taste of the oil. I also learned that if you mix the oil with orange juice you should not eat anything that contains tomato paste either before or after taking the Black Seed Oil for at least a day. This includes any kind of tomato sauce. Why? It is likely that you will get a terribly upset stomach and throw up. The orange juice and the tomato paste/sauce just do not mix well. This happened to me on two separate days that were several day apart so I am sure that it was this combination that was the reason for getting sick.

      1. A useful tip, Jane. After reading your earlier comment on Black Seed Oil, I decided to order it in softgel form (Sweet Sunnah, Black Cumin Oil, 100% cold-pressed, 500mg 90 softgels). It arrived just before I went on a trip & I didn’t want to experiment with a new supplement while away from home so I haven’t tried it yet.

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