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! This post is for you and anyone else with sinus conditions. 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 my friend Jeffrey C. Yuen. He is a leading classical Chinese medicine expert and teacher. Getting him on my blog is truly special because he rarely gives interviews.

So it’s a thrill for me to share this post, which comes to you straight from Jeffrey himself. He has two specific suggestions for those of us who have sinus issues:

  • Flush that nasty, polluted snot and phlegm out of your head by doing sinus cleansing.
  • Change your diet by eliminating sugar-y, milky, cheese-y goodies and fried foods.

The harsh truth is that getting healthy usually involves 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.”

Sinus cleansing is kinda fun

I found it fascinating to watch my snot drip into the sink once or twice a day for at least two weeks. Every time, my snot looked different in color and consistency.

The good news is that the discomfort is worth it. Speaking of worth, 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: One of the things I really like about Jeffrey is that he embraces great ideas from all cultures. I want to mention this because sinus cleansing comes to us from India’s ayurvedic medical tradition.


How sinus cleansing works

Flush out your sinuses twice a day. “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 a nostril, tilt your head back, and let the water run up your nose. Next, bend over the sink. The water will run out – along with mucus and dried snot.

I personally find neti pots a bit tricky to manage. As an alternative, my water vessel of choice is a baby aspirator. This aspirator is a simple item that is used to suck snot out of the noses of infants and toddlers, who are  too young to know how to blow their noses. You can buy this simple gadget in any drug store.

For sinus cleansing, I reverse the aspirator’s function. Instead of using it to pull out snot, I use it to squirt water up my nose. Once the water is in there, I do what neti pot users do next: tilt my head back, let the water run up my nose, bend over the sink, watch the junk run out.

Cleansing requires buying water that’s pure – tap water has too many chemicals in it. The salt needs to be pure, too, which means sea salt rather than table salt, which also contains additives.



  • 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.

The process can be so messy, ugly and natural that I find it beautiful!  The secret to sticking with the cleansing is water temperature. 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. Snot from really clogged sinuses is dark and often flecked with blood. As the sinuses clean out and recover, the gunk that drips out of your nose becomes lighter in color. Typically, the snot will go from shades of puke-y green to mustard-yellow to light yellow. Once you’re clean, your snot finally runs clear.

After a few seasons of this practice, my allergies 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.  

We are what we eat 

To maximize the sinus cleansing experience, you might consider eliminating the foods that created the sinus problems in the first place. If this interests you, check out this detailed post which outlines Jeffrey’s food philosophy.

When I stick to his dietary recommendations, I am fabulous. My skin feels smooth and glows with good health. The muffin top around my middle firms up. I sleep well. In terms of body odor, what body odor? I naturally smell like an angel.

I  hope you’ll enjoy trying sinus cleansing and a new approach to food. These posts about Jeffrey’s wonderful health solutions are special because  he is not available to answer emails or take on patients.

Thanks, Jeffrey! And thanks to all of you for reading. I appreciate your openness in considering new ideas and ways to be healthy. If you want to make changes, you can do this! Just remember to always, always listen to your body. And, be gentle with yourself. :)

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

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    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!

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  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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