Hello, Health Conscious Friends:
First, I want to say up front that my work on chronic sinusitis comes from working on myself and a number of patients over the years and it is not complete at this point. In other words, below works very well, but may not be the final solution for all of you with chronic sinusitis.
I intend to update this discussion as I discover new natural treatment protocols.
My own chronic sinusitis came about after having long term hay fever with its chronic stuffy, inflamed nose. At one point I developed an apparent ear infection about 20 years ago and took a couple of courses of antibiotics. Soon, I had chronic sniffles and eventually a chronic sinusitis with stuffy nose with and without mucus where the sinus membranes swell up and make it difficult to breath, including referred pain to my ear, to my teeth and of course head aches. The worst effect was a constant sense of not being able to breathe through my nose and for everyone else, my constant and certainly irritating, sniffing loudly. The hay fever was eliminated many years ago by changing my diet to one that better suited my metabolic type. Over the years the sinus infection became lodged in my right sinuses only.
About ten years ago I read in the letters section of Townsend Letters, about a MD in Indiana who speculated that chronic sinusitis may well be fungal and he found that direct topical application with a nasal spray of Nystatin seemed to help a lot. (sorry no reference)
This started me on a multi-year experimental stage on myself and any patients who were willing to try various topical sprays. I tried 3% hydrogen peroxide spray which definitely helps but really stings. (Not recommended!) I tried diluted hydrogen peroxide as part of a nasal rinse; adding various common Chinese herbal formulas to a nasal spray and wash. I used mixes of these two for several years with some benefit, but hardly a cure.
Then I read an article by Dr. Alan West, DC who suggested the frequent use (as in every 1-2 hours to upset the growth cycle of whatever may be growing in the nasal cavities) of colloidal silver as a direct nasal spray. I tried this and have to say it was not stingy at all, since it is essentially an extremely small amount of silver particles in mostly purified water, and it really helped, but again it never totally eliminated the infection, just controlled it. There are some alternative practitioners who feel that colloidal silver is toxic and that may be true for large dose oral consumption, but this is a direct spray to the nose of perhaps 1 ml or less. Frequent, larger oral doses allow the silver to build up too much in the system and may cause a characteristic blue skin color. I have to say, I have had a number of patients who have used colloidal silver on their own, sometimes in larger quantities and have never seen this silver toxicity. So, I'm not so sure this is something to worry about and especially if only sprayed topically.
I still had really swollen sinuses once in awhile so read about the use of hypertonic saline solutions with a nasal rinse hand bottle (I use a NeilMed bottle). I also read about using baby shampoo to help eliminate the formation of biofilms. Here is my formula for a nasal rinse. It works very well to shrink the swollen membranes and with time seems to reduce the infection, but again does not seem to eliminate it. I have used Xylitol solution which apparently reduces biofilm formation previous, but have found the baby shampoo to be better.
per Liter recipe that I use:
Salt, sea (not commercial, table salt which has other things in it) 27 g, roughly 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp
(1 level salt Tbsp = about 20 g; 1 tsp = roughly 5 g; 1/2 tsp is about 3+ g; it is difficult to get a perfectly level measuring spoon full of salt)
Baking Soda, Sodium Bicarbonate 3 to 14.3 g
(1 level sodium bicarbonate Tbsp = 15 g; 1 tsp = 5 g; 1/2 tsp = 3.5 g)
(I seem to have miscalculated and used the higher amount, but that amount works very well to keep the solution from stinging as a hypertonic solution that I'm giving the range for the amount of baking soda in a commercial product to what I used by accident.)
Baby Shampoo 1-5 ml (1 tsp = 5 ml) The clinical study found 1% solution to be best when compared to stronger solutions, but that amount is still irritating. One percent in a liter would be 10 ml, which is way too much for comfort in my experience.
add to purified water; not tap water.
Since I was seeing more research about the fungal association with chronic sinusitis, I began to wonder if using properly selected probiotics, again directly applied to the nose would help, since this seems to work very well for digestive fungal infections. Recently, Phil Nicolay, created a small booklet about this very treatment technique, The Chronic Sinusitis Cure . In it he suggests using a digestive probiotic mix capsule and adding its contents to some purified water, shaking and spraying that before going to sleep for a couple, three nights then waiting as the probiotics naturally colonize the sinuses. All other treatments, even the hypertonic nasal rinse, which would interfere with these "good" bacteria growth should be suspended. If after two weeks your sinusitis is still present, repeat.
I tried this several cycles. The first time, it helped but then I resorted to the colloidal spray before the end of the two week incubation period and thus may have killed off the probiotic. I tried again, but found that for the probiotic I was using (iFlora by Sedona Labs with 16 different strains) and my particular condition, that for best results I needed to spray every day typically in the morning and evening for the best results.
And results I got. For the first time in many years, I could breath clearly through both nostrils, but if I stopped the regimen the typical swelling and some mucous (this was new) would come back. Clearly, this group of bacteria was helping but not colonizing my sinus. I suspect that there may be specific strains that work best in the sinuses. It makes sense that bacteria optimized for the gut environment may not be best for a sinus environment. Also, like gut probiotics, there may be a prebiotic, "food" that facilitates their colonization.
Within the last couple of years there has been the recognition that chronic sinusitis may be a fungal-bacterial biofilm. Briefly a biofilm is a matrix of usually more than one microorganism with their cellular debris and various polysaccharides and even calcium to form a matrix which protects the fungi/bacterial colony from antibiotics or any other attempt to eliminate them.
Biofilms are common in the gut with fungal infections, but can also show up after surgery, on surgical implants, and of course in the nasal sinuses.
Practitioners are treating gut biofilms successfully using a combination of probiotics, prebiotics and specially formulated enzyme formulas to help break up the biofilm matrix. (Klaire Labs offers an enzyme mix just for this use.) The main enzyme is serratiopeptidase, an enzyme found in the silkworm. One takes this orally not necessarily directly via the nose, although I have not tried that yet.
So, in my last cycle with using the probiotic direct nasal spray, I added taking serratiopeptidase (SerraPro from Sedona Labs), 2 x 10mg on an empty stomach in the morning. After several days this clearly was an improvement over just using the probiotic nasal spray. I was waking with my nose clear and it would sometime remain clear for one or two days. For me this was very successful. I could actually breathe again through my nose without any sense of restriction--typically it feels like someone is pinching my nose on one or both sides.
So, I will continue this treatment, but am feeling that it could be better and certainly faster. I suspect that there may be better ways of clearing the biofilm, killing the specific organisms, a better strain of probiotics and perhaps a prebiotic to facilitate colonization.
One thing is probably key, is treating the underlying fungal infection that may be present in the gut or even system. I have a history of athletes feet, skin fungal infections, one toe nail infection so, it may be that a final cure will involve the elimination of the systemic fungal growth. During this last year, I have greatly restricted my sugar intake by reducing all fruit, eliminating grains from my diet and in general restricting my carbohydrates. I plan to do an expanded GI panel here soon to make sure my gut is not infected with candida or other fungi.
I will certainly update this blog with anything new I find that helps or works.
This particular blog focused on mostly my specific sinus infection which appears to be fungal. If you have a predominately bacterial infection, you may need to treat it differently. I suspect that any chronic sinusitis will have both bacterial and fungal organisms in a biofilm with the colony having differences in makeup from person to person. Observe you nasal mucous, it appears to be true that clear mucous is more likely allergies or fungal or viral, white or turbid mucous is allergies or fungal and yellow or even green is more likely to be bacterial.
In a recent article by Dr. Shenkar in his Newsletter, he pointed out the seriousness of mold mediated immune system chronic fungal infections. They act as focal infections which create a condition of chronic inflammation in people and make having good health very difficult. He estimates that as many as 1:6 people have this type of infection in the sinuses. I plan to try his approach and will certainly let you know how that works. In my own case his description does not quite match my experience, but certainly chronic sinusitis whether immune system mediated or not, will create chronic inflammation which affects your entire health--it is not just a local infection anymore.
In good health,
Chuck Belanger, L.Ac.