Acupuncture for sinus problems

Wow, everywhere I go in Australia I hear people talking about sinus problems! In my years practising acupuncture in London, acupuncture for sinus problems did crop up, but it wasn’t something I was hearing about all the time.

You’d think that the damp British climate would promote sinus problems, but it seems like no, it’s the dry heat of Western Australia that does it.

And from the point of view of Chinese medicine actually, this makes sense. Sinus problems come under the heading of ‘Phlegm’ – charming I know. And Phlegm arises from ‘Heat’ baking body fluids and creating stickiness and obstruction. And for sure there’s plenty of heat in a Perth summer!

So, what’s the story with your sinuses, and with acupuncture for your sinus problems?

What are your sinuses?

So the sinuses are cavities in the bones of your face. They sit above your eyebrows, and below your eyes. There’s a slightly creepy illustration of what they look like here on WebMD.

It seems like no-one is quite sure what your sinuses are for. I had this conversation once with someone who suggested they’re so that your face doesn’t look all hollow. And well, mayyyybe. But I’m guessing that if the sinuses weren’t there, and we all had hollow faces, we’d think that was normal. And we’d be weirded out by the idea of plump outward faces, with weird holes in the bones underneath?

Other, more convincing, theories are that your sinuses help to moisten the air that you breathe in, or that they help give resonance to your voice.

In any case, your sinuses are lined with thin tissue called musosa. As it sounds, they produce mucous. And when everything is working smoothly, this mucous drains away through passages that lead to your nose.

Sinus problems

The most typical reason that people seek acupuncture for sinus problems is because of sinusitis. The ‘itis’ bit on the end means ‘inflammation’. So, the mucous membrane lining one or more of your sinus cavities has become inflamed. Most typically this started originally with some kind of infection. For example a bacterial or viral cold.

Common symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Blocked or stuffy feeling above the eyebrows or below the eyes
  • Pain in those areas
  • Blocked nose
  • And if it gets worse, you may have a sore throat, fatigue, and other symptoms of being a bit more unwell

When sinusitis becomes chronic

Unfortunately it’s relatively common for these symptoms to become a bit entrenched. Your sinus cavities are a bit of a backwater within your head, and lingering infection or inflammation may not always clear smoothly.

The tissues lining your sinuses may remain inflamed, they may produce excess mucous, and polyps may even start to grow – little benign growths. Each of these things creates obstruction and stagnation, within these small and confined spaces.

So, you can end up with soreness, pain and pressure on an ongoing basis. It can be difficult to treat medically – this article from OnHealth talks about how surgery may be needed for some people as a last resort.

Acupuncture for sinus problems

From a scientific point of view, this is an area where more research is needed. A strong body of good quality studies on acupuncture for sinus problems have not yet built up.

A related area where more research HAS been done is acupuncture for allergic rhinitis – you can see my blog post on that here. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hayfever, can itself cause sinus problems. And the evidence shows a good benefit for allergic rhinitis from acupuncture.

Looking from the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, using acupuncture for sinus problems is all about working to release stagnation, congestion and Phlegm in the area, and clearing the Heat arising from inflammation. The aim is to bring these areas of your head back to a smooth flow – of Qi and blood and air and everything else.

Try acupuncture for your sinus problems

If you’d like to see whether acupuncture for sinus problems may be able to help you, just get in touch.