A cheap, simple holistic way to get rid of spring allergies – advice from Jeffrey C. Yuen

betty ming liu Food, Health 15 Comments

Hey, allergy sufferers! How miserable are you? Desperate enough to try a fool-proof holistic solution? If the answer is “yes,” read on. And if you’re roaring “hell, no!” maybe you’ll keep reading anyway…

The information here comes directly from Chinese medicine master Jeffrey C. Yuen. Getting him on my blog is truly special because he doesn’t chat online with anyone but old, annoying friends like me.

Even a fancy movie star like Gwyneth Paltrow can NOT get him for an interview on her pretty New Age website, Goop.com. The closest she comes to his teachings is to feature an acupuncturist who took some classes with him.

That’s perfectly nice. But here is the real deal, with straight talk from Jeffrey. He has two specific suggestions for the typical allergy sufferer:

  • Flush that nasty, polluted snot and phlegm out of your head by doing sinus cleansing.
  • Change your diet. Sugar-y, milky, cheese-y goodies have gotta go. Fried foods are out.

The harsh truth is that getting healthy can demand major lifestyle changes. But I found the process empowering. It was liberating to take control of my body and love myself on a totally different level. When I used to take Jeffrey’s courses, one of his favorite lines was: “There are no incurable diseases, just incurable people.” Yeah.

Sinus cleansing is kinda fun

You haven’t lived until you’ve watched your snot drip into the sink once or twice a day for at least two weeks. If you’ve been blowing your nose a lot, this process of rinsing out your nostrils will initially sting because you’re using water that has sea salt in it. I was fascinated by the changing color and consistency of my snot.

It’s shocking to learn how little it will cost to heal your sinuses. All you need is some water, sea salt, and a vessel of some sort to shoot water up your nose.

Note: Sinus cleansing isn’t a Chinese concept. This marvelous modality is actually an ayurvedic tradition from India. One of the things I really like about Jeffrey is that he embraces great ideas from all cultures.

But, changing your diet is — not fun

When I stick to the Jeffrey diet, I am fabulous. My skin is radiant and smooth. There’s no muffin top around my middle. I sleep well and naturally smell like an angel.

I have a detailed post that outlines Jeffrey’s food philosophy. It includes a very specific food list. You can print it out and have it handy while grocery shopping and bar hopping. (And of course, if you’re allergic to any of the food items, proceed with caution.)
Even though I have been following Jeffrey’s suggestions for more than two decades, clean living is still really hard for me. At this point, I am a social eater and drinker. That means falling off the wagon of good-foodness is just part of reality. But after I’m done with a round of donuts and potato chips, it’s comforting to have a healthy game plan handy.

(Note: Jeffrey does not take patients. But if you’d like to find someone trained by him, check out the Jeffrey Yuen Student Directory. 


How to do sinus cleansing:

Flush out your sinuses twice a day. That last suggestion was gross but turned out to be the key to my rehabilitation.  “Nasal irrigation” is so effective for sinus and allergy issues that a recent New York Times article mentioned several studies. In India, this low-tech tradition merits its own special neti pot. It looks like a miniature tea pot with a long spout. You fill it with salted water. Then stick the spout into your nostril, tilt your head back, and let the water run up your nose. When you bend over the sink, the water will run out — along with mucus and dried snot.

Both neti pots and baby aspirators will work for sinus cleansing. You just have to get the salt water up your nose.

These days, you can find cheapo online and in some drugstores. But you don’t need one to make this process work. I use a plain, old baby aspirator that you can find at any place that sells diapers and pacifiers. An aspirator is used to suck snot from an infant’s cute little nose. I had one laying around in our bathroom medicine chest.

To make this work, you need pure ingredients. No tap water. No crap table salt. Take care of that nose!


  • 1 baby aspirator or neti pot
  • 1 cup bottled or distilled water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 small, clear glass bowl
  • 1 spoon for stirring
  • 1 small face cloth


  1. Put sea salt in the bowl.
  2. Boil about ¼ cup of the water.
  3. Add to the bowl and stir until the salt dissolves.
  4. Add remaining water. The resulting mix should be slightly more than lukewarm but not hot.
  5. Insert aspirator nozzle into the water, squeeze bulb, then let go and watch it fill.
  6. Tilt head back. Insert aspirator tip into your nostril. Don’t breath. Squeeze the aspirator and let water squirt up your nostril. Hold it there for a few moments (or as long as you can stand it).
  7. Tilt head forward. Let the solution and your snots drip into the sink. Don’t stress your sinuses by blowing your nose; stuff will run out naturally. Use the face cloth to mop up where needed.
  8. Repeat with other nostril.
  9. Repeat the entire process, alternating between nostrils, until the cup of solution is used up.

There is nothing pretty or pleasant about this process. And a word of warning: the salt water might sting, especially at first. The warmer the water, the more it will hurt. The more damaged your sinuses, the more it will hurt. As your sinuses heal, the stinging will decrease.

So be gentle with your nose. In the beginning, consider using less salt and more water — and not too warm.

You’ll see other changes too. The snot from really clogged sinuses is dark, ugly and often flecked with blood. As the sinuses clean out and recover, the gunk that drips out of your nose will become lighter in color. Typically, the snot will go from shades of puke-y green to mustard-yellow to light yellow — until it finally runs clear.

After a few seasons of this practice, my allergies pretty much disappeared. Along the way, I developed tremendous respect for natural health care solutions. They work!


 Update: Sept. 4, 2012 — Just want to link you to an article that appeared in The New York Times which warns us NOT to use tap water, which can cause a rare infection.  


Comments 15

  1. Thanks for the tips! I am going to share this with my mom, who has such an uncomfortable time allergy season. The food change won’t be hard for her to handle, but I wonder about all this dripping snot…

    My son doesn’t have allergies, however, when the pollen count was extremely high 2 weeks ago, it affected him. We event went to the ER and the nurses said a lot of people without allergies may become sensitive to the season every now and then. He is not asthmatic, either, but I was really concerned. I think the diet change would be good for him, though. I know he might fuss a bit.

    I went out with a friend recently who practices a healthy diet. She is somewhat of a social eater, too, but manages to stay very disciplined. Because we were celebrating a birthday, she had a little of the non-healthy stuff we had. Just a little, but she stuck with her own convictions. When she sampled a little of the junk, she said it pays to be healthy. That’s what gives her that cushion whenever its tempting to jump off the health wagon, she can afford it. She gets plenty of vegetables and nutrients day in and out to deal with such food ”emergencies.” She has a good analogy for this that I don’t remember right now, but will share when I do!

    I miss you, Betty, I have to e-mail you soon and catch up. Things have been moving fast lately. I’ll send you graduation pics. I hope you, The Princess and your Animal Kingdom enjoy a fun and healthy spring! XOXO

  2. Post

    thanks, skye — we need to talk & connect. <3 and isn't it interesting that we really are what we eat? actually, i am much less self-conscious about my eating regimen these days. there are so many people out there with dietary issues, even young folks. and every time i meet someone who does sinus cleansing or eats quinoa, i feel this intense instant bond. my people, where are you??!

  3. “Flush that nasty, polluted snot and phlegm out of your head by doing sinus cleansing.”
    No, thank you! I am so thankful that out of 4 kids in the family I do not have any allergies. The thought of washing out my sinuses gives me a headache and sore throat!

  4. Post
  5. Betty,

    I have the list printed out and roaring to go with the healthy life style. I have tried the list and it truly does work but I wasn’t always into following it. I’m going to get my act together and try my best to adhere to Jeffrey’s advice. The healthy approach is the right way to go.

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  7. Oh dear, that sinus cleansing looks nasty. I think I’ll stick to my anti histamine.

    I think a lot of this sinus stuff comes from environmental issues. Too dusty, too much stuff around and not enough fresh air….

  8. Thanks for these helpful tips! I already have a neti-pot and have been using it on and off. Maybe I should just be more patient and see how my allergies change (aka. go away) when I religiously stick to it over a couple of weeks. I let the salt water run into one nostril and out the other (fascinating and a little gross…).
    The food list looks helpful, though it will be a little challenging. I’m eating mainly vegan, and some of the items that should be avoided are regulars in my daily diet. I’ll attempt a shift, because it’s totally worth it! Like 100%! So: Thanks a lot again!

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      Annette, I had to be really, really consistent about doing sinuls cleansing. There was definitely a difference over the course of a few weeks. I used to get hit with allergies in the spring and fall, so I would go through the sinus cleansing one in the morning and once in the evening during both times of the year. After two or three years, I ended up in really good shape.

      It’s allergy season for me now and as usual, the only impact is that I feel a little tired. It usually passes and I deal with it by getting more sleep! As for the food list, I suggest easing into it. Introduce and subtact one or two items at a time. Otherwise, it’s too much change all at once. Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

  9. Do I really have to do the WHOLE BOWL? I tried it and I only got one squirt in per nostril (I am a wimp). It hurts soo bad but I can breathe now! Is it just supposed to hurt the nostril or does it get part of the throat too? I dont know if maybe I accidentally breathed in with the first nostril.

    I really hope this works!

    1. Post

      Haha, oh Ashlie, no! You don’t have to do a whole cup (8 ounces). At least, not right away. Yes, it’s EXTREMELY painful for newbies. And yes, it can sometimes hurt in your throat too.

      Of course, never do anything that puts you in danger. But if you can do a few squirts each time, before you know it, you’ll be squirting a few ounces into your nostrils. And then, you’ll discover you’re doing half a cup. That might be enough, especially if you’re doing the cleansing twice a day. Good luck and thanks for being brave!

  10. Just to stress to be SURE to use distilled or boiled water and non iodized salt. Also, a pinch of baking soda lessens the sting. I use a nasal irrigation syringe I picked up a while back that makes the ordeal much more simple so maybe search for that if the pot seems like too much hassle.

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      Yes, thanks, Guy. Water MUST be free of iodine. Not sure about the baking soda, though, never tried that. But I’m with you on the actual device. I never used a netty pot because I have been perfectly happy using my daughter’s old infant aspirators. It’s a version of your syringe, but for babies. Works fine too! Thanks again for posting. :)

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