More than 14 percent of adults—or 23 million people—suffer from a nagging sinus problem called chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). It refers to inflammation of the nasal cavity and sinuses that lasts three months or longer.
Several factors may lead to the development of CRS, including seasonal allergies or a common cold. The symptoms often include:
- Nasal congestion
- Nasal drainage
- Facial pressure/pain
- Decreased sense of smell
- Low-grade fever
- Ear discomfort
Conventional treatments for CRS involve long courses of antibiotics and/or steroids—which, as I explained earlier this month, you should always avoid, whenever possible. Some even resort to sinus surgery—which is usually quite painful and ineffective.
Fortunately, as I’ll explain in a moment, a new study found that a natural botanical remedy works quite well on the sinus congestion, pain, and pressure associated with CRS—with results that begin in as little as one week.
Common cold gets little attention from research giants
Of course, some people develop CRS after getting a bad cold. But the powers-that-be seem to express very little interest in studying the common cold…
This omission always puzzled my father-in-law, Jack O’Leary, who was a newspaperman and always had an eye for a great story. I remember telling him about research projects and funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where I worked early on in my career. And a lot of it sounded pretty arcane and irrelevant to him.
After our discussions, he would always ask me, with all of NIH’s funding and support, “why can’t they come up with a cure for the common cold?”
Back then, the distinguished scientists at the NIH considered a cold virus a minor concern and not serious enough to warrant their attention (at least until the coronavirus came along). After all, it always goes away on its own within a week to 10 days.
You may recall an episode from the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies” in which Granny Clampett (Irene Ryan) tries to convince their banker, Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey), to take her “cold cure” when he gets sick.
Granny makes her elixir in a big kettle in her kitchen using a time-tested, top-secret recipe. When someone asks, “does she really have an effective cure?” Granny Clampett replies, “positively…take one spoonful of ‘cold cure,’ eat sensible, get lots of rest, and drink plenty of water.” Then Jed Clampett chimes in, “And in a week or 10 days your cold will be gone…ain’t failed in 45 years.” (Cue Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.)
But, as it turns out, if Granny had added some chamomile into her kettle, her “cold cure” really may have worked…
Ancient herbal remedy works wonders on sinuses
Chamomile is a flowering herb that’s been used medicinally for centuries. It belongs to the Asteraceae/Compositae family of plants. The most common varieties are:
- German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita)
- Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Over hundreds of years, practitioners of natural medicine have routinely prescribed chamomile to treat anxiety, allergies, colds, infections, and viruses.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s a key ingredient in an effective treatment for prostate and other cancers. And, as my research most recently uncovered, chamomile has a potent, sleep-promoting effect when used as a plant essential oil.
And in the new study I mentioned at the beginning of this Dispatch, researchers looked at the effect of chamomile on CRS…
Nagging sinus symptoms improve within one week
First, the researchers divided 76 patients with CRS into two groups. The first group instilled three drops of chamomile extract into each nostril, three times a day, for three weeks. The second group instilled three drops of sesame seed oil (as a placebo). (Both groups flushed their nasal passages with a saline solution prior to administering the drops.)
At the study’s outset and weekly during the trial, the participants took a Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT; I kid you not) to survey their symptoms. They also underwent endoscopic nasal examinations before and after the treatment period. In addition, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians examined participants at the study’s outset and each week during the study.
At the start of the study, participants in both groups had a similar severity of symptoms using the SNOT questionnaire.
After beginning treatment, both groups improved their weekly SNOT scores. However, the chamomile group experienced significantly more improvements than the sesame oil (placebo) group.
In fact, after just one week, the chamomile group achieved what the researchers called a “clinically important difference” (CID) in symptoms. Specifically, they experienced greater improvements in congestion, discharge, fullness, inflammation, nasal discharge, pain, and pressure compared to the sesame group.
Of course, while chamomile offered more relief to CRS patients in this study, it’s worth reiterating that the “placebo” group also showed improvement…
That’s because sesame oil itself is not a true, inactive placebo. In fact, sesame oil is actually an active botanical remedy. It contains sesamol and sesaminol—two powerful antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory properties. So, I’m not at all surprised that even the “placebo” group showed some improvement. In addition, just administering a saline solution to nasal passages—as these study subjects did—can also help alleviate sinus congestion, pressure, and discomfort. (This is what happens when researchers who don’t understand botanical medicine do studies!)
So, if you suffer from sinus issues or even CRS, I suggest you give chamomile nasal drops a try. Look for a product that contains chamomile extract distilled in some type of organic plant oil. And remember to always flush your nasal passage with a plain saline solution before using the drops.
Of course, you can also use chamomile extract as aromatherapy to help you sleep. As I have been reporting recently, I encourage you to look for a sleep formula that contains chamomile as well as:
Then, apply the oil directly to your skin at these spots:
- under your nose
- on sides of your nose
- under your chin
- at the base your ear lobes
- under your jaw
They can even be used together with a CPAP machine! To learn more about the many benefits of essential oils, I suggest you take a look back at the March 2019 issue of my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter (“Diffusing the hype on essential oils”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started!
“Effects of chamomile extract nasal drop on chronic rhinosinusitis treatment: A randomized double-blind study.” Am J Otolaryngol. January-February 2021;42(1):102743. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2020.102743.