Sinusitis in a Winter Wonderland

By Michael A. Smith, MD

As pretty as it sounds in theory, walking in a winter wonderland often leads to sinus allergies and infections. This time of year, sinus pain and headaches are far too common among us. Adding insult to injury, many of us are used to reaching for minimally effective and side-effect prone over-the-counter medications.

The good news is that nature provides a number of highly effective and non-toxic alternatives. We’ll get to those in a moment. But first, let’s review some of the symptoms associated with sinusitis. This is important because in rare cases, and if not treated properly, sinusitis can actually progress to the point of requiring surgery.

Here are the common symptoms of sinusitis:

  • Thick and/or colored nasal discharge
  • Headache
  • Pain in the forehead
  • Toothache
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Earache
  • Tenderness on the sides of the nose
Most of us experiencing one or more of these more benign symptoms will head out to the local convenience store looking for an OTC drug that promises quick results. And we’re usually disappointed with our purchase.

Now, here’s a list of symptoms that most definitely require a visit to your doctor since they represent a more serious situation and may necessitate aggressive treatment:

  • Upper jaw pain
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Neck pain
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Stiff neck
Let’s take a look at some natural alternatives to those side-effect prone over-the-counter drugs.

Quercetin is Better than Most Medications

Quercetin is one of a thousand or so members of the bioflavonoid family. It’s a colored pigment found throughout the plant kingdom, where it provides plants with antioxidant protection against environmental stresses. Here are some of its anti-allergy and sinus protecting properties:

  • When used in nasal sprays with other herbal preparations, quercetin significantly reduces nasal and sinus symptoms, comparable to antihistamine sprays.1

  • Quercetin safely and effectively relieved nasal and sinus symptoms in fast developing IgE-mediated allergies — the cause of many acute cases of sinusitis.2

  • In laboratory studies, quercetin inhibits histamine release, which is implicated in sinus pain and pressure and fluid build-up. As fluid builds up, this increases your risk for secondary sinus infections.2,3
Quercetin is available as a supplement in pill or capsule form. In the past, it was combined with bromelain to aid absorption. However, more advanced formulations today derive quercetin from a food-based source blend, ensuring high rates of absorption without bromelain.

NAC is a Natural Mucus Thinner

N-acetylcysteine, better known as NAC, is a special form of the amino acid L-cysteine. NAC raises levels of glutathione, a potent internal antioxidant.4

For many years, NAC has been used to treat bronchitis and other lung conditions as an expectorant or mucus thinner.5 It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory. Just make sure to take NAC on an empty stomach for the best results.

Rosmarinic Acid Prevents Fluid Build-up

Rosmarinic acid is a plant antioxidant found in basil, sage, mint, rosemary, and perilla leaf.6 Oral supplementation with extract of rosmarinic acid has been shown to suppress allergic reactions in mice and, more recently, in humans.7,8

Rosmarinic acid relieves symptoms by preventing the activation of immune cells involved in the initial response to an allergen. Blocking the initial response is important because once the body starts to react to an allergen, the resulting fluid build-up increases the risk for sinus infection.9

Now that you know how rosmarinic acid works, you might be thinking that if it can stop immune cell activation, it might have an overall weakening effect on your immune system. Well, don’t worry because it doesn’t.

Most experts, like those from The National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan, believe that rosmarinic acid only affects immune cells involved in the initiation of an allergic response and other immune cells for fighting bacteria and viruses and cancer are not affected.

How to Enjoy Winter without Sinus Pain

Go ahead and use quercetin, NAC, and rosmarinic acid daily this winter to prevent any problems with your sinuses. If you do have a bad day and your sinuses start acting up, consider adding the following to your regimen for a few days:

  1. DHEA
  2. Olive leaf extract
  3. Oil of oregano
  4. Lactoferrin
  5. Garlic extract
  6. Zinc
Do you have a favorite combination of nutrients that work for you? Share your approach in the comments below.


  1. Phytomedicine. 2004 Jan;11(1):36-42.
  2. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Oct;5(5):448-54.
  3. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 1990 May;11(3):285-8.
  4. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2002 May;40(5):496-8.
  5. Respir Care. 2007 Sep;52(9):1176-93; discussion 1193-7.
  6. Indian J Exp Biol. 1999 Feb;37(2):124-30.
  7. Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 Oct;24(10):1206-9.
  8. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2004 Mar;229(3):247-54.
  9. J Immunol. 2004 Jan 1;172(1):79-87.


pru said...

Can you recommend somethin for sinusitis and snoring?

Sinupret Med said...

Sinusitis comes in very different forms and therefore it has to be treated accordingly. In the above article you have listed some new ideas and antioxidants that can help alleviate sinusitis. Some are familiar others not. Personally I prefer plant based medications that do not leave you drowsy or feeling worse than what you initially were.

Kill Sinus said...

Sinusitis could induce a bunch of misery for adults and children alike. As alluring as it may be to deal with a sinus infection without delay with antibiotics, the American Academy of Pediatrics is telling medical professionals to hold off for awhile.

The specialists evaluated the results of 17 randomized controlled tests and ended that sinus problems occasionally clarifies with antibiotic procedure. The new tips recommend that if the youngster is not running a fever or becoming worse, doctors can hang around several days prior to starting antibiotics. That does not hold, of course, if the child is quite ill.

The factor for this care is that treatment could induce negative effects, specifically looseness of the bowels and other intestinal pain. The doctors are likewise concerned that overuse will certainly cause antibiotic resistance and make anti-biotics ineffectual when we really require them. Pediatricians have actually blazed a trail with this careful method, pioneering a "watch and hang around" strategy for ear infections. While when every ear infection was treated with amoxicillin or something comparable, now lots of pediatricians choose to view if the youngster can conquer the infection without sturdy medications.

spandhana said...

Thank for posting, its very informative

Life Extension said...

spandhana - Glad you found it to be of help!

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