May 26, 2011

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. :)