Now that we understand the structures that we are dealing with it is important to note that sinusitis can be due to infection (viral/bacterial), allergic hypersensitivity, or an autoimmune response. The most common reason for sinusitis is generally a viral infection, however in the three scenarios mentioned (infection, allergy, autoimmune) the common thread is an impaired immune system. Granted if an individual experiences one bout of sinusitis in their life and recovers from it quickly with no lingering effects, their immune system is clearly not impaired. However in my experience in treating sinusitis with acupuncture the individuals who seek treatment generally have repeated bouts with lingering effects.
The state of the immune system plays an integral role in all three of the possible causes of sinusitis. If it is due to an infection we need to ask ourselves why the immune system is not operating efficiently in its response to the pathogen. If repeated bouts are occurring why is 'healing' not taking place, and why are the internal conditions conducive to harbouring the pathogen and the subsequent opportunistic viral/bacterial attack. Let’s say that the sinusitis is due to an allergic hypersensitivity, why is the immune system recognising an inert/harmless substance as a threat and thus initiating an inflammatory response. Again if the presenting sinusitis is due to an autoimmune component, why is the body not recognising self from non-self and in effect destroying its own tissue.
All the above highlight an imbalanced immune system that is in need of regulating, and I find when addressing sinusitis in the acupuncture clinic the best long-term results come from working on the acupuncture meridians that relate to the sinuses, but more importantly addressing any immune system imbalances present through constitutional acupuncture treatment strategies.
If we take a look at the meridians that due to their trajectory relate to the sinuses and subsequently when treated can provide relief from the associated signs and symptoms, we find the gallbladder meridian, stomach meridian, and urinary bladder meridian. These meridians engage the frontal and maxillary sinuses and it is the acu-points that are on these meridians that I utilise for both diagnosis and treatment.
An example of this is last week I treated an individual with chronic recurring sinus infections amongst other health complaints. As I diagnose and treat through palpation I palpated the region of the maxillary sinuses (Sibai ST 2 region) which were sensitive to the touch. Finding the correct acupuncture point that in this case was Master Nagano’s metal/water acupuncture points (Neiting ST 44 & Lidui ST 45) released the pressure pain at the maxillary sinus by 75%. Similar acupuncture treatment strategies were carried out on the gallbladder and urinary bladder meridian which further decreased the pressure pain elicited on palpation of the maxillary sinus region as well as increasing his ability to breathe through his nose. This meridian treatment strategy is highly effective and is taken from master acupuncturist Kiyoshi Nagano as presented in Kiiko Matsumoto’s Clinical Strategies.
As I mentioned previously long lasting results in my experience require more than just relieving the inflammation of the mucosa membrane, thus acupuncture treatment needs to address the imbalanced immune system. Thus my treatment strategy includes addressing the immune reflective areas that show tightness or pressure pain on palpation. These areas include the ‘wind’ and lymphatic region in the neck as well as the right side of the navel (as in the Nanjing the right side of the naval reflects the Lung). The subsequent release of pressure pain/tightness of these reflective regions as well as the release of all constitutional related pressure pain/tightness leads to a more effective long-lasting acupuncture treatment.
Another important and simple form of therapy that I recommend to those suffering from sinusitis is nasopharyngeal rinsing. You can use a neti pot or a pipette, which ever you prefer, however it is important to use warm water that is a minimum of 37 degrees (body temperature), and to use enough sea salt to create a hypertonic solution (i.e. sea water taste not saline). Daily rinsing with this hypertonic salty solution is a great way to gently flush the sinuses of debris as well as draw out water and thus inflammation from the sinus mucosal membranes. Please do not use any of these high pressured cold sprays, the reason I say this is that cold high pressurised liquids/vapour/or anything should not go up your nose, and it is counterintuitive to say the least.
As always if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. (Giancarlo Nerini - Acupuncturist)