TCM View of Sinusitis

Sinus is the hollow cavities in the skull and are lined with soft tissue. Healthy sinuses are filled with air. However, if they become inflamed due to triggers such as viruses or bacteria, the soft tissues start to produce excessive amounts of yellow or green mucus. This is known as Sinusitis. 


As the mucous membrane starts to secrete more mucus, they become swollen, resulting in congestion. Symptoms include a reduced sense of smell, stuffed nose as well as headache and facial pain. Excessive mucus could also lead to a backflow into the mouth, thus some would experience symptoms such as a cough or sore throat.


  • Yellowish / Greenish mucus
  • Congested nose
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Headache or facial pain
  • Cough
  • Sore throat

Allergic Rhinitis also causes inflammation in the nasal canal. However, the triggers are due to allergens such as dust, pollens etc. Common symptoms are sneezing, runny nose with clear and watery mucus, itchy nose, eyes. An inflamed mucous membrane could also cause congestion; hence one would experience blocked nose and the loss of smell. 

Build-up of mucus from Allergic Rhinitis, when not cleared entirely, could become infected with bacteria or virus and eventually lead to sinusitis.


TCM View of Sinusitis

External factors – pathogens such as wind heat and wind cold

  • In TCM, the Lung system is the first line of defence for our body. As External pathogens attack our body, the Lung system is weakened. Imbalances in the Respiratory tract governed by the Lung system brings about accumulation of phlegm which is expelled in the form of mucus.  

Internal factors – Poor eating habits, Emotional factors

  • An old TCM saying “脾为生痰之源,肺为储痰之器” translates to “Spleen produces phlegm while Lung stores the phlegm”. Weakening of the spleen system due to unhealthy eating habits and irregular eating times may manifest dampness in the body, which in turn congeals to form phlegm. This phlegm would eventually be stored in the lungs and expelled in the form of mucus. 
  • Negative emotions, stress, and inadequate sleep may affect the Liver system. An aggravated Liver system would in turn weaken the spleen system. Again, the weakening of the spleen system would bring about dampness in the body and over time, thicken to form phlegm. 

TCM Treatment

After detailed consultation with your physician, we would then be able to derive the root cause of the problem, thereby coming up with a combination of the methods listed to treat sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. Intervention by TCM can help to re-establish balance in the body, to reduce the occurrence of sinusitis.

  1. Acupuncture 
  2. Herbal Medication

Self-help Tips

  • 迎香穴 (Ying Xiang, LI20) – Massage both acupoints on face for 1 minute.
Decreases sensitivity of the nose, reduces obstruction in the nasal canal.
  • 合谷穴 (He Gu, LI4) – Massage both acupoints on hands for 1 minute.
Helps to increase blood circulation to the face, bringing inflammatory pathogens away from the nose
  • Avoid oily and spicy food.
  • Regular exercise to build up immunity.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Adopt healthy sleeping habits.
  • For allergic rhinitis, avoid allergens that causes the allergic reaction.

TCM drinks that can help to alleviate sinusitis


  • Siberian Cocklour Fruit (苍耳子, Cang Er Zi) 10g
  • Mint (薄荷, Bo He) 4.5g
  • Dahurian Angelica Root (白芷, Bai Zhi) 6g
  • Magnolia Flowers (辛夷, Xin Yi) 6g
  • Water 300-500ml


  1. Put all of the ingredients into a cup.
  2. Add boiling water and let it simmer for 20 minutes
  3. Drink one time a day, to clear mucus from sinuses.


  • Perilla Leaf (苏叶, Su Ye) 6g
  • Magnolia Flowers (辛夷, Xin Yi) 2g
  • Water 300-500ml


  1. Put all of the ingredients into a cup.
  2. Add boiling water and let it simmer for 15 minutes. 
  3. Drink one time a day, to clear mucus from sinuses and reduce inflammation.

The body constitution of each individual varies and thus, it is important to have a consultation with a physician to know the root cause for sinusitis, thereby treating the root problem along with the symptoms. Early detection and treatment could reduce occurrence as well as prevent it from becoming a long-term illness. 

Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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