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Health & Wellness

Exploring the Benefits of Sinus Massage

Sinus pain can be pretty profound, especially for those suffering from sinusitis, which is considered the most common chronic illness in the U.S.

The sinuses are usually hollow cavities in the skull, and the lymphatic system is generally effective in its efforts to fight infections that cause sinus issues. However, when a sinus infection attacks, those cavities fill with mucus, creating congestion, pressure, and ultimately, pain.

While there are over-the-counter and prescription medicines that can help ease sinus congestion, both come with health risks. Over-the-counter drugs usually contain acetaminophen, which when taken in high doses can damage the liver, and antibiotics can throw off the good bacteria that make up the immune system, much of which lives in the gut, requiring probiotics and dietary changes to help restore that good bacteria.

Luckily, there are ways to ease pain holistically and naturally—or a supplement to conventional treatment methods depending on the severity of the infection.

Sinus Massage May Ease Pain


Sinus massage is one way to help ease sinusitis pain and congestion. This can be done at home after you learn the techniques and can be a way to relieve pain without the need for some over-the-counter medicines. All of that makes sinus massage sound great, right?

When it's done properly, massage is an effective way to help encourage the sinuses to drain, easing congestion. Better still, the only tools required are your fingers, although using a warm compress first can help loosen nasal congestion before you start.

There are three different massage techniques recommended by the American Medical Association, each targeting three different areas of the sinus cavities. 1

Frontal Sinus Massage


To perform this sinus massage, rub your hands together briskly—a yoga technique that draws warmth—then place your index and middle fingers on both sides of the forehead, just above the eyebrows, to target the frontal sinuses. With warmed fingers, massage slowly in a circular motion, working your way toward the temples to massage the entire nasal passage. Massage for at least 30 seconds to get the best benefits.

Maxillary Sinus Massage


Beneath the frontal sinuses are the maxillary sinuses, which are found on either side of the nose, just below the cheeks. These are the largest of the four sinuses and the ones most likely to benefit from massage. After warming your fingers, place the index and middle fingers between your cheekbones and the upper jaw and massage slowly for at least 30 seconds. If you don’t feel any draining, use your thumbs instead of your index fingers to increase the pressure, improving the results.

Sphenoid/Ethmoid Sinus Massage


The sphenoid sinuses are found behind your nose in what is called the ethmoid bone, which is found where the nasal cavity and brain divide. To massage, place your index fingers on the bridge of your nose after warming them, and find the nasal bone that is located along the nose near the corner of your eyes. Put pressure on the area, then slowly massage the sides of the bridge of your nose, repeating for 30 seconds.

All three massages can be performed as often as needed to relieve congestion.

Does Sinus Massage Work?


One study from the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that sinus massage was an effective treatment option to ease the pain associated with sinusitis. 2 Another study suggested sinus massage was effective when used on athletes. 3

Results are likely as personal as the massage process itself, and you will learn over time about ways to tailor the massage techniques to suit your own needs.

Essential Oils for Headaches and Sinus Congestion


Sinus massages can be combined with other holistic techniques, including essential oils, which work like warm compresses to encourage congestion to loosen and relieve the headaches often created by congestion.

Neroli Essential Oil


Neroli essential oil can help ease the pain of headaches, including those associated with sinusitis. In a 2015 study appearing in the Journal of Natural Medicines, Iranian researchers found that neroli essential oil helped ease pain and inflammation, making it an ideal option for sinus headaches as it can help encourage sinus drainage while relieving the accompanying pain. 4

Eucalyptus Essential Oil


A 1994 study from German researchers found that a blend of eucalyptus and peppermint was an effective treatment option for headache pain. 5

Peppermint Essential Oil


According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, peppermint essential oil relieves tension headaches when applied to the temples with a carrier oil. 6 The menthol in peppermint also makes it an ideal option for the clearing sinuses and relieving the accompanying pain.

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