Don’t let this year’s round of seasonal bugs sabotage your winter plans.
Tap into all that nature has to offer and get rid of those debilitating symptoms with a minimum of fuss.
- What causes a blocked nose?
- Easing inflamation & mucus build-up
- Supporting your immune system
- Take away tips
Blocked noses are fairly common this time of year with all the bugs and viruses in the air.
An infection can result in congestion, which may also affect your sinuses.
This can leave you with terrible headaches too - but why suffer?
You might think having a stuffy nose is just part and parcel of a cold and something you simply have to put up with but actually there are a number of natural remedies that can clear your airways, without having to resort to pharmaceutical drugs that may make you drowsy.
Watch Kerstie Chisholm / Health Director @ Amchara Health Retreats demonstrate & create a simple, natural mucus cough remedy!
Amchara Health Retreats / YouTube [2,141 views]
The most common and obvious causes are a cold, the flu virus, an airborne allergy or in some cases a food allergy.
However if it has been a long term problem (greater than 12 weeks) it may be due to an obstruction in the nose such as a deviated septum, or a more serious medical condition that needs to be investigated. 1
Congestion in the nose happens because the lining of the nasal passage is inflamed and mucus builds up.
Whatever the cause of your blocked nose is, there are measures you can take to relieve this.
These natural remedies can help to clear your airways so that you can breathe more easily and also support your immune system so that it doesn’t happen again!
Turmeric is probably more commonly known as a culinary ingredient but is increasingly being recognised for its biological properties.
Animal studies support the therapeutic use of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory.
It has been shown to regulate the progression of virally induced respiratory illness. 4
Quercitin is a member of the bioflavonoid family of plant chemicals and is found in foods such as grapefruit, red wine, apples and onions.
This biologically active compound has been shown to help reduce the formation of inflammatory chemicals and as such can be used as a safe and natural therapy for the control of allergies and inflammation.6
The idea of using enzymes might seem strange as these are mostly associated with food digestion, but actually enzymes carry out thousands of functions in the body and this includes breaking down mucus build up.
This makes them particularly useful for reducing congestion in the nose and sinuses.
Enzymes, such as protease, peptidase, lipase, amylase and cellulase can be found in supplement formulations that are specifically produced to clear stuffy noses.
Your local health food store should be able to recommend something appropriate.
Bromelain, which is extracted from pineapples, is also a natural protein-digesting enzyme that may help to break down a build up of excess mucus. 7
Another useful function of bromelain is that it can aid the absorption of quercitin, as well as having well documented anti-inflammatory properties itself. 7
The Eucalyptus is a fast growing evergreen tree native to Australia.
It is a popular decongestant and incredibly effective.
The fumes from eucalyptus oil can help to break down nasal congestion and clear the sinuses.
According to Dr Mercola’s Natural Health website, eucalyptus oil works by stimulating an immune system response and also has anti-bacterial properties that may help combat pathogenic bacteria in the upper respiratory tract.12
To relieve congestion, the oil can be used by placing a few drops on a handkerchief or adding 10 to 15 drops to a vaporizer or some boiling water in a pan.
For a traditional remedy, its worth trying a salt pipe.
The idea of using salt for respiratory conditions stems back thousands of years when it was common for people to visit salt caves to clear their lungs and airways.
To use a salt pipe you draw air through the mouthpiece which flows over natural salt crystals.
The salty micro-climate calms the cells lining the respiratory system and stimulates the natural cleansing process in the airways.
The salty air inhaled via the salt pipe thins out and reduces build up of mucus in the nose and sinuses, which makes it easier to breath and may help to ease sinus headaches.
You can read more about salt therapy by visiting ‘plant therapy’ at PlantTherapy.com
Maintaining a healthy immune system is the key tool for warding off all winter bugs.
Fortunately, there’s a whole range of vitamins, minerals and plant phytochemicals at your disposal that exert powerful therapeutic effects.
Having any of these on hand can really bolster up your immune function:
This old favourite has a well deserved reputation as studies have proven that it can reduce the duration and severity of the common cold. 15
- Large doses of vitamin C have been found to assist in the production of substances that are needed to activate the immune system against viruses.
- Several cells of the immune system accumulate vitamin C and need it to perform their tasks.
- Topping up on vitamin C enhances many immune system functions and has been found to elevate the production and function of specific white blood cells that the body uses to round up and destroy invading bacteria and viruses. 14
- Vitamin C has been found to block the pathways that lead to elimination of the T-cells that are so important for attacking infection.
- During infections, vitamin C concentrations in the blood plasma and white blood cells decline. 14
- A deficiency in vitamin C results in a reduced resistance to certain pathogens
- Vitamin Cs powerful antioxidant activities protect cells from free radical damage generated during inflammatory conditions such as colds and flu.
- Vitamin C and the Brain Connection
Zinc plays a vital role in immune system function and is well documented for its use as a therapy against the common cold.
Research has shown that if zinc is administered within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms it reduces the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people.8
If you want to be sure you are getting enough zinc in the winter months make sure you eat plenty of meat, poultry, fish, beans and cheese.
The highest source of zinc can be found in oysters. 9
You may already be familiar with echinacea as it is often used around this time of year when colds and flu are lurking around every corner.
But if you’re not it’s worth stocking up with some echinacea during the winter season.
- Although echinacea is grown natively in America it is now also cultivated in Britain.
- According to studies, compounds found in echinacea increase the amount of circulating white blood cells, whose job it is to destroy bacteria and viruses. 10
- So in effect echinacea stimulates an immune response rather than directly killing off the bugs.
- Research suggests that echinacea works best if taken at the first signs of a cold when it can be most effective.
- Studies show that echinacea not only shortens the duration of a cold but also reduces the severity of the symptoms of those suffering with colds and respiratory tract illness.11
Who’d have thought that something as simple as a mushroom could influence the immune system.
But in fact beta-glucans, which are constituents derived from mushrooms like shitake, reishi and maitake, have been used for thousands of years in Eastern countries because of their healing properties.
The biologically active properties of the polysaccharides found in mushrooms have been found to increase immune defences by enhancing natural killer cell function. 13
Dairy foods such as milk cheese butter and yoghurt can sometimes promote mucus production and may be best reduced or avoided.
If you suspect that food may be playing a role in your stuffy nose, it may be worth taking a food intolerance test.
This involves nothing more than a simple pin prick blood sample to identify which foods may be problematic.
You can find more information about these tests at Amchara Health 360.
Author: Jacqueline Newson BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy