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Sinus Health with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Sinus Health with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Unless you suffer from chronic allergies, you might not think you have sinus issues. This is a common misconception that I see all the time in my practice. However, any time you get stuffed up, have a runny nose, post nasal drip, sniffling, sneezing, itchiness, runny eyes and red eyes, chances are there is an internal imbalance that is affecting your sinuses.

In Western medicine some sinus pathologies are called sinusitis (inflammation of sinus cavities), infectious rhinitis (mainly viral), and allergic rhinitis (hay fever), but they can all be treated similarly with Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull that all connect or drain to the nose. There are four cavities on each side: Maxillary (the largest, found in the cheekbones), Frontal (forehead, close to eyebrows), Ethmoid (at the bridge of the nose), and Sphenoid (in bones behind the nasal cavity). All of these cavities are lined with a soft, pink tissue called mucosa and they are normally empty except for a thin layer of mucus. When one suffers from sinusitis or rhinitis, it is an inflammation of the mucosa and increased production of mucus caused by an environmental irritant or virus.

Mucus is a protective substance created in the sinus cavities and in Traditional Chinese Medicine this is considered phlegm, which is a dysfunction of our Body Fluids (one of the three key substances in our bodies: Qi, Blood, and Body Fluids). When diagnosing mucus or phlegm, a practitioner often asks what the colour and consistency is. Clear, thin phlegm is considered cold, yellow or brownish, thicker phlegm is considered heat, and thick greenish phlegm is often considered viral. Knowing this, an acupuncturist is then able to start formulating their treatment plan.

Have you ever wondered why after you eat certain foods you become stuffed up or get a headache? This is because two of the major meridians that run to and through the sinus cavities are directly linked to digestion. The Stomach meridian starts in the face (right below the eye and travels directly through your Maxillary sinus cavity) and the Large Intestine meridian ends at the nose. When treating sinus issues it is always important to pay special attention to diet and treat these two meridians and organ systems with care.

Several other acupuncture meridians are key players in your sinus health. The Du meridian (also known as the Governing Vessel), starts below your tailbone and runs all the way up the centre of your spine, neck, skull and ends just above your top lip, this means that it flows straight between both sides of all the sinus cavities. Therefore, this channel must also be taken into consideration for treatments. A strong empirical sinus point is located slightly into from the hairline from the forehead and used to treat a wide range of sinus issues. The Spleen meridian must also be examined as this is the organ that is responsible for transforming and transporting fluids and food, therefore, if the Spleen Qi is weakened, then this process is impaired and phlegm can accumulate. Acupuncture and herbs help to improve weakened Qi and to restore an organ or system back to proper working order.

Facial cupping is an important part of a sinus relief treatment as it is powerful in physically unblocking the sinus cavities. The gentle suction action as well as lymphatic drainage make this a dynamite treatment modality to combine with acupuncture. Cupping and acupuncture together form a stellar duo that tackles sinus issues from both surface and deep within the body at the root to create the most complete treatment.

Instead of suffering through sinus pain, itchiness, and discomfort this year, book in to see your favorite acupuncturist to alleviate these annoyances, boost your immune system, and regulate your digestion to allow you to enjoy each breath.

I love this ‘tea’ as a home remedy for sinus issues. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Natural Sinus Relief Recipe


  • 1 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 Tbsp. Local Raw Honey
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice (1-2 wedges)
  • Pinch of Cayenne
  • Pinch of Turmeric


Drink this tonic 2-3 times per day. Can quickly break up congestion, kill pathogens & improve other sinus symptoms.


I like to drink this tea at the very first signs that “something” is aggravating my sinuses and it almost always clears it up. It is also great once you are all blocked up as well.

Local Raw Honey – if you suffer from seasonal allergies, local honey can be your best ally as it helps your immune system to recognize your local pollens and adjust your system to them gradually thus decreasing your allergic symptoms – try taking one tbsp. of local raw honey/day for one month and see the difference! If local honey is unavailable, use any other nice organic raw honey. Raw honey is contraindicated in pregnancy.

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