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A: The presence of asthma in a person complicates the issue of using essential oils to help ease a sinus infection. Aromatherapists traditionally recommend steam inhalations of antibacterial and antiviral essential oils, such as lavender and eucalyptus, for sinus infection (read more about using essential oils for sinus infections on our blog).
However, inhaling essential oils can bring on asthma attacks in those who suffer from this condition. For this reason, you often find that aromatherapists will not apply essential oils at all to those with asthma or, in some cases, will only apply oils to the bottom of the feet, where they will be absorbed into the skin but not produce much stimulation of the respiratory system.
Unfortunately, this method is not ideal for sinus infection. Holistic practitioners have many ideas about chronic sinus infection and/or asthma, however. One idea is that both of these problems may arise from food allergies. Another is that exposure to toxic fumes or other environmental factors (such as mold) may be involved. Even when allergies are not involved, diet may play a role. For example, anyone with chronic sinus infection should eliminate all dairy products (except live yogurt), as dairy products encourage excessive production of mucous. It is also important to drink plenty of water to keep mucous thin and flowing.
If you want to consider other holistic approaches, you should take a look at Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 2nd edition by J.F. Balch, MD & P.A. Bach, CNC (Avery Publishing). Your local bookstore should be able to order it. This book has good sections on sinus infection and asthma and will give you an overview of herbal and nutritional approaches. With any serious health situation, such as asthma or any kind of infection, it is important to maintain appropriate follow-up with office visits to a health care practitioner. Joie Power, Ph.D.
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