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Curing a sinus infection without antibiotics

January 30, 2012
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If you are a sinus person like me, you’ve probably had your fair share of semi-sleepless nights, slumped in the most upright position you can manage, your mouth dry and cracked from trying to suck air into your congested head.

You’ve probably been on antibiotics several billion times to get rid of the thick mucus hiding out in your skull. Probably a bacterial infection, they said.

I actually have not had a sinus infection in awhile. Changing my diet made a huge difference! It’s sorta common knowledge among holistic health folks that eliminating dairy is the trick. It might be, I don’t have scientific proof. But it worked for me, along with eliminating sugar and taking better care of myself in general. That was back in like, 2007.

Pre-baby, I mean. When I could sleep in until noon if I liked, go to yoga daily, spend hours in the grocery store and kitchen planning and preparing meals.

Suffice it to say that sleep deprivation and an all-too-often habit of grabbing cheese as a quick snack was probably enough to land me back in Sinus Town.

So here we are. Danny has been sick too. Both of us. For 3 weeks. It started simple with a runny nose, then gained momentum into what I considered “time to go to a doctor.” I’m all for natural cold remedies, but when I’m spending 20 minutes with my neti pot to get any sort of flow going, it’s time, in my opinion, for antibiotics.

Well, our doctor disagreed.

10 days out, you’ll likely be in the same place with out without antibiotics, he said. Bacterial or not.


I know docs are hesitating more and more with antibiotics, and I like that. But I was still surprised that 3 weeks of snot wasn’t enough to warrant a prescription.

So here we are, using every natural remedy I can conjure up. Because of course, while breastfeeding you can’t take decongestants either.

Thought I’d share with you what’s been working to make me feel better. And, fingers crossed, I seem to slowly be getting healthier just like the doc said. Danny too.

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar Cocktails
As strong and as often as I can handle – ACV in water.
Can’t give this to Danny though. Well, I could try, but he’d probably never trust me again with his sippy cup.

Hot herbal tea
All day. I like ginger with lemon. Occasionally I’ll make it with real ginger, but mostly I get Traditional Medicinal brand from the store.
Tried to get Danny to drink some semi-cooled tea, he wasn’t impressed but I got some in him. Not quite the same without the steam.

Adhesive nasal strips
These are so incredibly not sexy at all. And YES I need a size large. Ahem. They physically open your nose to allow more space in there. Love that.
Don’t make baby size. Damn.

Peppermint Oil
I smear this stuff all over my face, especially right over the places that are congested. It is amazing at opening up the sinuses and alleviating pain. But if it gets too close to your eye – watch out. Gotta be careful.
I mixed a drop with olive oil and massaged into Danny’s chest under his clothes. Unfortunately it gave him a little rash so I stopped. Sometimes I do put a drop in his humidifier though!

This stuff supposedly helps boost your immune system. I should have taken it at the first sign of a cold. Next time I won’t wait.
Been giving Danny a liquid baby version.

My darling neti pot
I could not live without you, sweet neti. Every morning and night, and sometimes in between. How else could I dislodge the nasties deep in my head? See you soon. Love, Michelle.
When Danny was an infant we’d put saline drops in his nose, then use a nasal aspirator. There’s no use trying now, he throws a huge fit.

So while we are still on the mend I’m wondering if all those years I really needed antibiotics. And I’m feeling grateful for this toolbox of non-drug remedies.

You may also be interested in:

Top 10 ways to kick a cold’s butt before it kicks yours
Ear infections: Garlic is the most delicious natural remedy

  • Ricki

    I just went through something similar–about a month with sinus issues. I relied on nasal irrigation (though must stress that people should use BOILED and cooled water!). Have you ever tried immune-boosting herbal tinctures (ie with several ingredients)? I use one called Deep Immune and swear by it when I’m run down or feeling like I’ve got a sinus infection.

    • Michelle Pfennighaus, CHC

      Yes, heard about the brain eating amoeba…oh my.

  • Miranda

    thanks for all the helpful tips, fyi, they do make kids adhesive strips-we cut them down for my younger child (2) to help her sleep at night just thought you may like to know-the neti pot is also my dear friend, after many many introductions to my husband who suffers from asthma I have finally convinced him to try it to see if it would help with his symptoms-he has started using it in the shower and feels he is getting some relief from it-yeah, finally-not sure why it’s soo hard to listen to me sometimes-ha!

    • Michelle Pfennighaus, CHC

      I think it’s the same with all husbands :-)

  • Lisakthrives

    My mom does something with garlic oil!

  • Vincent Michael

    Thanks for this herbal and non-Allopathic remedies. It will help my sister in law, too. Will be sharing your experience and article with her.

    • Michelle Pfennighaus, CHC

      Thanks, Vincent. I hope it’s helpful!

  • Joanne

    Ugh this sounds awful! As far as I know, apple cider vinegar cures everything and that neti pot sounds like a godsend! In response to your comment about the leftover scallions, I honestly couldn’t taste any difference in the soup from day one to days two, three and four (other than it tasting BETTER…as soup is supposed to) but maybe I’m not as sensitive to the scallions?

    • Michelle Pfennighaus, CHC

      Perhaps I should put ACV in my neti pot….

  • Lori

    Love your natural tips. I’ll do everything I can to stay off antibiotics.

  • Paula Davis

    Hi. My kids use ColdCalm, a homeopathic remedy you can even buy at mainstream grocery stores. They take it at the first sign of a cold, usually when they get a tickle in their throat. They will take it every couple of hours. Usually keeps a cold at bay. They are competitive athletes and don’t want to lose their edge with a cold. They also up their vitamin D, since we live in Chicago, and take a garlic supplement plus extra C. We are also big fans of the BreathRight strips and the neti pot. Oh, for your little one, are you still nursing, breast milk right up the nose does wonders!!!

  • Anonymous

    You rock! Since getting my tonsils out…I have (knock on wood) not really gotten sick sick. But I will definitely keep these in mind for peanut as she get older and I’m def trying that oil!

  • Amy

    Eating raw garlic, while not pleasant for you or those around you, can be helpful in fighting a cold. As is eating spoonfuls of manuka honey and taking zinc and elderberry tablets in moderation.That’s my arsenal, anyway. Oh, and sometimes I ‘ll drink emergen-c, but I’m not crazy about all the sugar it contains. I was sick for 3 months last winter and now I have such an illness phobia! My 4 year old son and I are currently fighting colds :(

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