Chronic Sinus Problems? Try the Bulletproof Sinus Rinse
By: Dave Asprey
You might think that the colder months are the only time for sinus infections, but many people suffer from sinus problems year-round. Do you recognize any of these symptoms — constant low-grade congestion, facial pain, headaches or chronic colds? Then you might benefit from this simple sinus hack that’s made my sinus problems obsolete.
I suffered from sinus congestion for a whole decade. I was living in a house with toxic mold that triggered chronic sinusitis. My nasal cavity was almost always blocked, which is no good for your performance or your happiness.
It got so bad that I scheduled a routine “roto-rooter” sinus surgery, affectionately likened to plumbing for good reason: the procedure manually clears your sinuses as if they were a clogged drain. I was lucky that three days before, I figured out this hack that cured my sinusitis. I am so grateful that I did because most people who get the surgery have to go back and get it again since it doesn’t fix the core problem, which is inflammation. Focusing on the symptom is not sustainable; you have to target the cause.
For millions of years, mold and bacteria have been at war. Mold exposure can cause bacteria inside your sinuses to form a biofilm in response to the moldy threat. According to one study, mold can even cause sinusitis in those who have no specific fungal allergy .
In some cases, your sinus bacteria start to produce lipopolysaccharide, an endotoxin that impairs cognitive function in mice [2,3]. Even if you don’t produce lipopolysaccharide, sinus congestion is a background annoyance that robs your body and brain of energy. Here’s how to hack sinusitis.
How to clear your sinuses
There are three methods for effective sinus relief that I recommend.
1. Get a sinus saline spray. This can give temporary relief by moisturizing your nasal cavity, but frankly, it isn’t the best option. If you have a chronic condition, it will simply return when the spray wears off. I use this on airplanes when I don’t have access to other tools. I suggest Xlear, which you can buy at Whole Foods. Their formula includes xylitol, a sugar alcohol that inhibits the growth of nasopharyngeal bacteria .
2. One step better is using a Neti Pot. This is a little pot that you fill with hot salt water so you can irrigate your nose. The technique has its origins in Ayurveda, the complex system of medicine developed in ancient India, and there are numerous studies showing that saline nasal irrigation is effective [5,6]. Neti Pots are good but can be a hassle to carry with you if you travel.
3. The best nasal irrigation I’ve found is a Bulletproof Sinus Rinse. Instead of a Neti Pot, get a large salad bowl and fill it with hot water (not so hot that it burns you, but fairly hot). Next, add salt; enough to make the solution isotonic (roughly ½ teaspoon for every cup of water). Salt water – the key ingredient in all these techniques – prevents bacterial growth, whereas regular water promotes it. The next ingredient you’ll add is a few drops of iodine, and, if you wish, xylitol.
- Place your bowl on a counter and bend forward like a dippy bird. Don’t tip your head back or you’ll gag. Your spine should be parallel to the floor.
- Now blink your eyes two or three times. The iodine will sterilize the lining in your eyes where there is a huge amount of bacteria that result in the inflammation of your immune system. This doubles as a way to beat hayfever by clearing the pollen and pollutants from your eyes.
- Now, close your eyes and “drink” through your nose. The solution won’t go down your throat if you are at the proper angle; rather, it will collect in the back of your mouth. When your mouth is full, spit the water out in the sink, and repeat.
On another day or at another time, try this version: use GSE (grapefruit seed extract) instead of iodine. You can keep using the xylitol. GSE is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial for fungus and bacteria .
Do the Bulletproof Sinus Rinse regularly to break up the biofilms in your sinuses. It’ll reduce inflammation and clear your mind. When I started using this technique, I did it about 10 times a day, because my sinus congestion was so severe. Now, I only do it once or twice a week as maintenance. It changed my life.
One word of advice, however. If you have never done this before, you probably don’t want to try it first on the night of a hot date. If your sinuses are shaped in a certain way, the solution can reach deep into your maxillary cavity. You might hear it sloshing around, and it can sometimes drain out of your nostrils without warning. Not the most attractive thing to happen mid-dinner.
If you have postnasal mucus – the real gunky stuff in the back of your throat – and it is making your congestion extra stubborn, you can try Guaifenesin, an expectorant drug often sold over the counter, followed by the Bulletproof Sinus Rinse. Guaifenesin isn’t the best thing to put in your body because it has artificial coloring, but it will thin out unwanted mucus. The Bulletproof Sinus Rinse should take care of the rest.
Are you experiencing any sinus problems? Give this a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Happy biohacking!