TCM & Acupuncture for Sinusitus

acupuncture sinusitus

Sinusitis is infection or inflammation affecting the sinus cavities. It can be acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis comes on suddenly and lasts a few weeks. Chronic sinusitis is much longer lasting with persistent nasal discharge and congestion, headache and facial pain. You may also have other symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, dizziness, snoring and bad breath and nasal polyps.

Causes of sinusitis. Acute sinusitis often happens after an acute infection, such as a cold or chest infection. Chronic sinusitis can be the result of multiple lifestyle factors. Your diet could be the cause, especially if you eat too much rich, sweet food or alcohol, or if you are not getting enough exercise. These triggers can weaken your Spleen and Stomach Qi, clog up your normal Qi dynamic, generate Dampness and Heat. Some foods, e.g., dairy, increase phlegm production. Having lots of antibiotics can further complicate the picture as your Spleen becomes weakened and allows more phlegm to accumulate.

When we are stressed, or if we repress our emotions, our Qi stagnates. Prolonged Qi stagnation generates Heat, which can affect the sinuses and mucus membranes. Add in other heating factors such as a rich, greasy, sweet diet or alcohol and your sinus problems can intensify.

Other causes such as working too much, excessive worry, irregular eating habits and eating too much cold raw food can all weaken the Spleen and Stomach. This can also be at the root of your sinusitis issue.

Environmental factors such as air pollution and smoking will irritate the sinuses and contribute to swelling and poor drainage. These environmental factors can also trigger acute exacerbation of your sinusitis.

TCM presentation of the main types of sinusitis

Wind-Heat, this type typically appears after you have had a cold. Symptoms include acute sinus congestion, thick white or yellow mucus, frontal headache and facial pain, cough and sore throat. You will have fever and chills and want to stay well wrapped up.

Stomach Heat

A diet rich in spicy heating food, or drinking too much alcohol, can generate Heat, Damp- Heat and Phlegm which become lodged in your sinuses. Typical symptoms include severe sinus congestion with thick yellow mucus; snoring is common. Changes in your eating habits and overindulgence in the foods mentioned above can also trigger acute episodes. Other symptoms with this type of sinusitis include fever, feeling thirsty, bad breath and constipation. Making changes to your diet, if this is the main trigger, is essential for long-term relief of your symptoms.

Liver–Gallbladder fire.

Stress under lies this problem as tension causes Qi stagnation which can then generate Heat. Alongside sinusitis symptoms, you would also feel irritable and restless, be thirsty and have a bad taste in your mouth. You may have dark urine and constipation too. Self-help primarily includes avoiding alcohol and the heating stimulants in your diet.


Allergies, including being allergic to certain foods or chronic exposure to pollution and dust, can cause persistent mucus secretion and swelling in the mucus membranes of your nose. Symptoms include chronic nasal congestion with lots of thin, white or thick, sticky mucus. You may also have a postnasal drip and loss of sense of smell. This type of sinusitis generally responds well to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatment, especially if you make the appropriate dietary changes alongside your treatment.

Liver Qi constraint with Heat

If you suffer with chronic stress, alongside environmental pollutants, such as smoking and a sedentary lifestyle, your Liver Qi may become constrained and create Heat. This Heat can irritate your sinuses. Typical symptoms include chronic nasal congestion, which gets worse when you are stressed, headaches with neck and shoulder tension. You may also suffer with red eyes, feel irritable, have bad breath and a bitter taste in your mouth. Lifestyle changes, especially reducing alcohol intake, reducing stress levels, alongside relaxation and exercise will help reduce this type of sinusitis.

Spleen Qi deficiency with Dampness

If you suffer with weak Spleen Qi, you may have trouble getting rid of the build-up of any phlegm. With this type of sinusitis, you’ll probably have persistent congestion and lose your sense of smell. You’ll suffer with lots of sticky white nasal discharge which will be worse when you lay down at night, improving during the daytime when you are more active. You may also have a poor appetite, feel tired after you eat and have loose stools. This type of sinusitis responds well to both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

Kidney Yang deficiency

With this type, you may have persistent dripping of thin watery mucus, sneezing and find your symptoms get worse in cold weather. You may also have frequent urination and generally feel cold. You’ll probably feel very tired too. This type of sinusitis can be difficult to treat successfully as it requires long-term treatment. Although this can be worthwhile as treatment would also improve your general health, energy and sense of well-being. Chinese herbal medicine will enhance the effects of any acupuncture treatment, as acupuncture alone is unlikely to successfully clear your symptoms.

TCM treatment. As with all conditions, in TCM we treat the underlying causes of your sinusitis. Herbal prescriptions will include additional herbs to help open and clear the nasal passages. Acupuncture treatment can be used in a similar way. Treatment with either of these will always be improved when you make any necessary lifestyle changes that may be causing your type of sinusitis.

At the Jade Centre we see many patients each year to help them to manage their health. Contact us now and book an appointment to get the support you need,

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