When you have a case of nasal or sinus congestion that’s caused by the common cold, there is little a doctor can do to help you. Instead, you might want to consider some natural remedies for sinus congestion and nasal congestion. Medical research has shown antibiotics are in effective for nasal congestion caused by the common cold and viral upper respiratory infections. Several relevant studies support this:
- Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine demonstrated that Amoxicillin was ineffective for healing acute rhinosinusitis in adults.
- Researchers at the Jama Network have published a study on overprescription in urgent care clinics. They determined that doctors write more than 80 million unwarranted prescriptions for antibiotics in the USA every year. They note that viral upper respiratory tract infections are a frequent trigger for these unwarranted prescriptions.
So, don’t hurry to the doctor’s office asking for antibiotics to clear your congestion. They won’t help. Try the following 3 natural remedies first.
1. Black Pepper
Reader’s Digest, the popular American magazine, reports that ordinary black pepper — the kind you find in the pepper shaker on your kitchen table — is an effective natural decongestant. As it turns out, Ayurvedic medicine has a helpful explanation for that.
According to Eileen Keavy Smith, author of The Quick & Easy Ayurvedic Cookbook, sinus congestion indicates a kapha imbalance. She explains that kapha is one of the 3 major doshas (metabolic types) in Ayurvedic medicine. To balance kapha, she recommends eating a combination of pungent, spicy, bitter, and astringent foods. While all of the herbs and spices can be effective for balancing kapha, black pepper is particularly valuable for this purpose.
There are multiple ways to consume black pepper, many of which are ways to open nasal passages. You can simply sprinkle dried pepper onto whatever you’re having for your next meal. For a therapeutic dose of the herb, Banyan Botanicals makes a formula including black pepper known as “Kapha digest” that is specifically intended to balance the Kapha dosha.
Keavy-Smith also recommends avoiding bananas, dairy foods, red meats and fried foods when you want to alleviate sinus congestion and balance your kapha.
2. Organic Menthol Lozenges
Researchers from the Department of Physiology at the University of Wales in Cardiff, UK studied the effects of menthol lozenges on patients afflicted with cases of the common cold. They determined the lozenges were beneficial for enhancing the nasal sensation of airflow.
Perhaps you’re wondering what, exactly, a menthol lozenge is, and why you might want to choose an organic one? Menthol is an essential oil extract that can either be naturally or synthetically derived. The natural version typically comes from corn mint or peppermint plants.
We recommend seeking out certified organic menthol products for a variety of important reasons. For starters, according to the experts at Beta Lab Services laboratory, the synthetic version of menthol may contain petrochemical adulterants such as mineral oil. There are good reasons to want to avoid ingesting mineral oil. Mineral oil can cause cancer if it isn’t treated correctly, according to the US National Toxicology Project. There isn’t much point in treating a cold and increasing your vulnerability to cancer in the process – so choose an organic menthol lozenge to ensure you’re only ingesting naturally grown ingredients.
Multiple clinical studies have shown Echinacea to be effective in preventing and treating the symptoms associated with the common cold:
- Researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy found that Echinacea was effective for naturally reducing both the duration and incidence of the common cold.
- German researchers at the Company Medical Service conducted a similar study and came to the same conclusion: Echinacea is clinically effective in alleviating common cold symptoms.
- A different group of researchers independently found that Echinacea can prevent rhinovirus-induced cold symptoms.
So the next time you find yourself suffering from nasal congestion caused by the common cold, skip the antibiotics. Instead, try using black pepper, organic menthol lozenges and Echinacea to alleviate your symptoms and reduce the amount of time you spend suffering. If your symptoms don’t clear up within a few days of trying the home remedies, be sure to consult your doctor; it is possible that something other than a cold may to blame for the symptoms you’re experiencing.