Guest Blog: Sinusitis, by VAMT acupuncturist Rachel Kristyniak

Sinusitis can happen any time of the year. However, the fall and winter seems to invite a stuffy nose to come and hang for a while.
Let’s dive in more and discuss what sinusitis is, learn some tips on how to prevent it and also, what to do when you are stuffed up already.

What is sinusitis?

People often say they have a sinus infection, when in fact, those are pretty rare. Mostly, what we have going on is inflammation of the sinus cavities with mucus build-up, aka: sinusitis.

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Sinuses are typically filled with air. When an infection occurs (by a viruses, bacteria, or fungi, typically), you end up with sinusitis. Common symptoms are stuffy nose, pressure over your sinuses (forehead, below the eyes) and thick, green/yellow mucus.


What’s better than your sniffles going away? Never having them in the first place. Below are some tips for prevention.
Neti Pot

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A neti pot is also known as nasal irrigation: A personal hygiene practice in which the nasal cavity is washed to flush out mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses. Once the pot is filled with distilled water and saline solution, you hold the spout in one nostril, pour the solution in, and it exits the other nostril. I understand how strange this might seem (or look!) to those who haven’t tried it. However you do get used to it. And the benefits are pretty fantastic.
Xlear nasal spray
Nasal sprays are pretty popular, and many of them contain ingredients that can have unwanted and long-term side-effects. If you are concerned about this, or simply want a natural spray you can use multiple times a day, Xlear is a fantastic alternative.
Ingredients include xylitol (kills bacteria), purified water, salt, and grapefruit seed extract (helps keep nasal passages moist and healthy). You can safely use this products as much as you want throughout the day.

Already stuffed?


If you find yourself getting stuffed, evaluate your dairy intake. Dairy is known to thicken our mucus, something you want to avoid with sinusitis. Also be mindful of sugar intake (causes inflammation and is also food for bacteria).
Also, I’m a huge fan of adding in some Pho to your diet. Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of bone broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat – usually beef, sometimes chicken. It’s spicy in nature (although some places give you a small, optional side of spice so you can control the heat).
The heat is what gives this food the sinus benefits. Not only are you getting the immensely nourishing bone broth, you are taking in spices that are known as expectorants. These are a class of herb that help thin mucus so it can wash away, rather than stay gunked up in your head.


I look for two classes of herbs when thinking of clearing my head: Expectorants (mentioned above) and anti-inflammatories.


Just like eating a spicy bowl of Pho, expectorants help thin the mucus in your membranes and get stuff flowing. Garlic, ginger, peppermint and spicy peppers are all expectorants and something easily bought at your grocery store.


Thick mucus plus inflammation is the recipe for sinus build-up. Natural and safe anti-inflammatories include turmeric, white willow bark, ginger and green tea.

Chinese herbal formulas

There are also wonderful Chinese herbal formulas I swear by. If you are interested in Chinese herbs, seek out a licensed herbalist or email me at


I say there’s a point for everything…and that’s true for your nose, as well (like Large Intestine 20).
Chinese medicine is full of helpful therapies to help prevent and ease sinus flare-ups. Your treatment plan might include acupuncture, herbs, food therapy, moxa, tui na or cupping.
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Rest & massage

And, as always, nothing can replace good ol’ rest. Book a massage with us for some added ahhhh.

See an M.D.

Keep a close eye on your nose and if you have severe pain or a prolonged fever, seek out the care of an M.D.

Thank you for stopping by this week. We appreciate your interaction and would love to hear from you! Please comment bellow to continue the discussion. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call us at 651-756-8525 or visit us at

Until next time!

Rachel Kristyniak, Licensed Acupuncturist at VAMT

Rachel was born and raised in St. Paul, MN, where she currently lives with her husband, Chris and Shih Zhu, Stewie. She graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences in 2017 with her Masters in Chinese Medicine. Rachel found Chinese medicine on a journey to understand and tend to her own anxiety and depression and now has a passion for helping others who experience a similar reality. She enjoys treating a wide variety of conditions and welcomes anyone looking for care.