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Acupressure for Sinusitis

By Victoria Dragon

Sinusitis and Chinese MedicineAcupressure, as well as acupuncture, can work very well on sinusitis.

I highly recommend the chapter on sinus and hay fever problems in "Acupressure's Potent Points" by Michael Reed Gach.

Some general points for sinusitis are Bladder 7, Bladder 10, Governor Vessel 20, and GV 26. The third eye point also can be helpful. (GV 24.5)

Bladder 2, Drilling Bamboo, can work very well for for sinus congestion in the forehead and for frontal headaches. It's "in the indentation of the inner eye socket where the bridge of the nose meets the ridge of the eyebrows." (p. 202) If this point needs to be worked, there may be a drilling-like sensation when it's pressed.

Large Intestine 20 (Welcoming Perfume) and Stomach 3 (Facial Beauty) can open up the maxillary sinuses (those in the cheeks).

In addition, Large Intestine 4 can be very useful in treating sinusitis. This one is forbidden for pregnant women. It's "in the webbing between the thumb and index finger, at the highest spot of the muscle when you bring the thumb and index finger close together." (p.203)

It's also important to ask why a person has sinus problems. If there is an infection, acupoints for regulating the immune system also will be important. Some of these include Kidney 27, Bladder 23 and 47, Stomach 36, Conception Vessel 6, Conception Vessel 17, Kidney 3 (should not be stimulated strongly after the 3rd months of pregnancy), Liver 3, Large Intestine 11, and Triple Heater 5 and then Large Intestine 4 (should not be used during pregnancy). (pp. 117 - 123) BTW, treating constipation (which both LI 4 and LI11 do) can play a role in helping people fight off infection.

Are the sinus problems coming from allergies and sensitivities? Gach recommends LI4 (not for pregnant women), Lv 3, TH 5, LI 11, B10, K 27, CV 6, and St 36. (pp. 25 - 29) There is a lot of overlap between the points which are good for strengthening the immune system and those which are specifically recommended for allergies.

In addition there are various TCM herbal, Western herbal, and other strategies for helping allergy problems. Echinacea has value both for fighting infections and treating many allergies. Echinacea often is called an immune system booster. This is incorrect. It actually is an immune system regulator which will boost immune system activity when that is needed (as in the case of infection) and tone it down when that is needed (as in the case of allergies). It strengthens the immune system to work properly. (The chapter in the Gach book more accurately would be called "Potent Points for Regulating the Immune System" instead of "Boosting the Immune System".) Fennel seeds often get used in both TCM and Western herbalism for treating allergies. Allergies can have different TCM profiles. There are more strategies for dealing with allergies, but I won't go into them in this post.

Sometimes a person has chronic sinus problems because of structural problems. There may be nasal polyps (small growths) obstructing the nasal passages, or the nasal passages may be unusually small and even twisted like a corkscrew. There are some TCM and other treatments which can be effective in some cases of nasal polyps, or the person may require surgery. I don't know of anything besides seeing an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist for surgery for unusually small and/or twisted nasal passages.

Spinal misalignment can trigger head and sinus congestion. There is an adjustment to the neck that chiropractors and DOs can give which can open up nasal passages. This adjustment can work on sinus congestion due to allergies or infections. I used to know a DO at a local hospital who was very much in demand by staff as well as patients during allergy season. The adjustments he gave opened up their heads instantly without the side effects like drowsiness or agitation of conventional medications.

For those leery of having their bones popped - especially in the neck - there are exercises which sometimes are effective, though they may take a long time to work. They're usually of more value in cases of chronic congestion.

Another consideration is possible Dampness problems. Sometimes the sinus problems have a Root of Dampness and Spleen problems. In these cases Dampness engendering foods like dairy, citrus, and perhaps wheat may need to be eliminated from the diet. In addition, the person may need herbs to strengthen the Spleen. (Note the mention of acupoint Stomach 36 for strengthening the immune system and for allergies. This point can be very helping for strengthening the Spleen as well as the Stomach. It also can boost energy.)

In doing acupressure it is important to pay attention to any areas which are sore or numb, tingle, or feel unusually hot or cold. It sometimes happens that acupoints that need to be worked will be sore or have other odd sensations like cold, heat, numbness, etc. In some cases these points may be located some distance from the problem area - like the use of LI 4 in the webbing between the thumb and index finger to help sinuses to open up. Sometimes these distant points will be listed in the general guides - like the list of possible acupoints I've listed in this post. But sometimes they're only listed in more detailed literature, and sometimes not even in the more detailed literature. What is important is what works for the individual. From time to time you will run across situations like this. There is nothing in any literature you can find that indicates that a certain point would be helpful for a certain condition. Yet, the point is sore or has some other unusually sensation connected with it, and when the point is worked, the problem starts to ease. As long as there are no contraindications for working the point (like pregnancy, Yin Deficiency, etc.), cautiously try working it to see if there is an improvement.

Victoria Dragon

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