Nasal Lavage for Allergic Rhinitis/Sinusitis

Feb 22, 09:15 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

Daily or seasonal pollen allergies can usually be managed with the topical use of dilute essential oils. Eucalyptus radiata and sweet myrtle are among my favorite anti-allergy oils, and a must for those living in high pollen areas. Aromaceuticals' pre-diluted Respiro blend contains both these oils for easy dermal application to sinus pressure points.

However, there are times when topical application just isn't strong enough to manage the unpleasant symptoms of allergic rhinitis. I experienced this last week when I was struck overnight with a severe allergic reaction to mountain cedar pollen. After just a brief outdoor exposure, my nasal passages swelled and my voice completely disappeared. This sent me running to the nearest drugstore for a nasal lavage kit to start some emergency aromatherapy.

Nasal lavage, or sinus irrigation, is a very old therapy that has once again become popular in both the holistic and allopathic medical communities due to its rapid effectiveness. Very simply, the nasal cavities are gently washed with a mild saline solution, which moistens the nasal pasages and washes out inhaled pollen and accumulated mucus. Large amounts mucus can't collect to breed a sinus infection, and if pollen isn't present, a histamine reaction won't occur, along with accompanying swelling, stuffiness and sneezing.

Lavage is accomplished via use of a neti pot or plastic squeeze bottle. Some people find neti pots a bit cumbersome and prefer the bottles which come with prepackaged sinus irrigation kits. Either way, you can boost the effectiveness of nasal lavage by creating your own saline solution.

Add 10-12 drops of essential oil to 8 tablespoons of finely granulated sea salt. Mix together thoroughly in a sterile capped container. Use as directed with your neti pot or sinus irrigation kit– most require about 1/2 teaspoon salt for a single application. I use a blend of the above-mentioned eucalyptus radiata and sweet myrtle, but other suitable essential oils include eucalyptus globulus, eucalyptus smithii, eucalyptus polybractea, bay laurel, basil ct. methyl chavicol, tea tree and niaouli. One batch of neti pot salts will be enough for several weeks of daily irrigation treatments.

Do not perform nasal lavage if you have a known ear infection.

If you suffer from persistent pollen allergies, I also recommend taking a good quality stinging nettle supplement. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) capsules are widely available at health food stores. Be aware that a loading dose is necessary to obtain the desired antihistaminic effect, so start taking the capsules about 2 months before the arrival of your usual allergy season. Purchase a brand that contains a standardized dosage of nettle herb.

If your sinus problems are accompanied by laryngitis, application of dilute frankincense to the throat can quickly return your voice back to normal. Cypress oil is helpful for laryngitis accompanied by sore throat.

Keep two or three bottles of essential oils at the ready in your medicine cabinet for sudden allergy attacks. The same essential oils do double duty for colds and flu, making them indispensable for home health care.

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