Sinuses are a network of hollow cavities in the head that are lined with a thin layer of mucous. There are four of them- the frontal (behind the forehead), the ethmoid and sphenoid (between the eyes and behind the nose), and the maxillary sinuses (behind the cheeks). They moisten and filter the air we breathe and they add to vocal resonance. Their mucous drains into the nose.
There are a number of symptoms and illnesses that involve the sinuses- chronic rhinitis (or runny nose), allergies, sinusitis, sinus infections (acute or chronic), sinus headaches, deviated septum, nasal polyps and so forth. Many of these sinus issues are treatable with Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Because the nose leads directly to the lungs, all diseases of the sinus cavities are related to lung qi. Various syndromes may cause nasal symptoms, among them: dryness in the lung, invasion of wind cold or wind heat, heat/fire in the lungs, deficiency of lung qi, to name a few. These syndromes are diagnosed based on the symptomatic pattern during the illness and the patient’s history. Acupuncture points and, sometimes, herbal remedies are applied as appropriate.
In the case of a sinus infection, typically wind heat or fire/toxins invade through the nose; once retained, a chronic condition develops due to the festering toxins. The symptoms, as most people know, are thick yellow discharge, congestion, pain around the brow region or behind the eyes, swelling mucous membranes and possibly fever, chills, etc. The points used to treat this situation are aimed at clearing the heat toxins in the sinus cavities, as well as improving the circulation of qi. The needles can reduce the inflammation and improve the congestion in the nose. Points used are often on the lung and large intestine channels, but also local to sinus pressure points on the face, the back of the head and upper back and around the hands and wrists. Other points that might be relevant to the patient’s current symptoms may also be employed. Chinese herbal remedies that focus on reducing congestion and increasing lung qi are often helpful, especially for an acute phase. Sinus infections may require antibiotics, however supplementing the drug therapy with acupuncture and herbs is useful. Acupressure on the face and skull may help soothe sinus pain.
I do feel that a nasal rinse, such as a neti pot, is helpful, as is the essential oil product Baraka. This product is a blend of oils that can be dabbed below the nostrils to help open the passages and facilitate breathing. Below is a link to the product website.