Not being able to breathe through a stuffed-up nose because of a cold, allergies or sinus problems is no fun. At least with a cold the stuffiness eventually goes away, but for those of us who deal with clogged noses on a daily basis it's terribly frustrating. Of course, there are OTC drugs that many people use, depending on the cause of the nasal congestion, but if you're like me, I'd rather go the natural route to clear up my sinus passages.
Many people swear by Neti Pots, but with the latest news regarding two deaths potentially linked to Neti Pot usage in Louisiana, some people might be a little hesitant to use them, although they should be safe if used correctly. So what other choices do we have?
ALTERNATIVES TO NETI POTS:
1. Simply Saline Solution: A purified saline solution that you inhale into each nostril. You can purchase this anywhere. I tried it several times, but I have very sensitive nasal passages and the solution caused some bleeding. If you are one of the rare people that can not tolerate the salt, there is another natural option.
2. White Sesame Seed Oil: Sesame seed oil has antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties so it's good for many uses, including clearing up that stuffy nose. This was recommended to me by my acupuncturist, who suggested dipping a clean tissue in the sesame oil (the white not the dark), close off one nostril with your fingers and inhale deeply the oil into the other nostril. The white sesame oil is tasteless and odor free, and can be purchased at Asian markets or in most health food stores. The only problem with the oil, is that it's a tad messy.
3. Hot Steam: Drop some eucalyptus, camphor or menthol oil into a bowl or pan of steaming hot water, drape a large towel over your head and breathe through your nose until there is no longer any steam.
4. Spicy Foods: Eating spicy hot foods will clear up nasal congestion, at least temporarily. Horseradish, Japanese wasabi mustard, Chinese hot mustard, anything with hot peppers.
5. Peppermint Candies: Chew or suck on some Altoids, or other peppermint or mint candy.
6. Acupressure Massage: Here's a short video that demonstrates how to apply pressure to relieve sinus congestion.
This Chinese Medicine website has some additional recommendations, including the use of an eye dropper for the Sesame oil, which seems like a better choice than a tissue.
REMINDER: While these are natural remedies, there are some people who might be allergic to some of the herbs, sesame oil etc. Women who are pregnant should be particularly careful. And it is best to ask your physician or holistic health practitioner before use.