The condition of sinusitis broadly corresponds to an old Chinese medical category called ‘Bi Yuan’ which literally means ‘nose pool’.
The main symptoms of sinusitis are a purulent, yellow nasal discharge from the front and back of the nose (into the throat), a stuffed nose, a frontal headache, facial pain and a feeling of muzziness and heaviness of the head. The sinuses may be tender to touch.
Long term sinusitis is often caused by repeated infections by the common cold or influenza viruses. Part of the problem with this condition is anatomical. The openings into the nasal cavity are narrow and so if there is already inflammation, then further infection and inflammation makes the cavities prone to blockage. This results in stagnation of fluids in the nose and sinuses.
Within Chinese medicine, repeated invasions of common cold & influenza viruses occur because the Lung energy is weakened. In addition, these infections interfere with the movement of Lung energy which in turn causes the fluids in the nose and sinuses to collect.
Diet can also play an important factor in the development of chronic sinusitis. Food items which are difficult to digest and are consumed on a regular basis will lead to the development and retention of Phlegm which will predispose one to sinusitis.
Acupuncture treatment for sinusitis is based on the presenting symptoms. When the symptoms are acute then treatment is aimed at clearing the phlegm from the nasal cavities and regulating the flow of Lung energy. If the Phlegm is Yellow in colour then this indicates heat and points are selected to help the body clear this heat.
During symptom-free periods, or when the symptoms are mild, acupuncture treatment is aimed at strengthening the Lung energy to prevent invasion of pathogens (viruses). Other points will also be selecting according to the imbalance in the body. It is also important to strengthen the digestive system and avoid food which is difficult to digest. This is because there is a very important saying in Chinese medicine, Phlegm is produced by the Spleen and stored in the ‘Lungs’. The Spleen refers to the digestive system.
Chronic sinusitis can be difficult to treat and require a lot of treatment. Sometimes it does respond quickly as well. The difficulty in treating chronic sinusitis is because Phlegm is a thick, sticky substance which is difficult to shift. There is also an underlying weakness in the body’s energy which results in repeated invasions of viruses. To treat this condition it is important to help the body eliminate the pathogen (Phlegm), and to strengthen the body’s Lung energy (and Spleen) to prevent future infections. Due to it stubborn nature, the combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine is often best for the treatment of sinusitis. Treatment would be on a weekly basis initially.