Spring is in full bloom here in the North State, but along with the beautiful colors and aromas of fresh blossoms comes sneezing and sinus congestion for many of us.

Pollens that float through the air can irritate the mucosal lining in the nose and contribute to itchy, watery eyes, headaches, tooth pain, sneezing, nasal irritation and runny nose. These irritants cause the sinus passages to be in a chronic state of inflammation which is termed sinusitis.

Pollens, however, are only part of the problem; the most common contributor to chronic sinus infections is fungus and mold that are present in the air all the time.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading expert on natural medicine, states "According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, not only is sinusitis one of the most expensive disorders in the United States, but also its prevalence is on the rise, indicating that the common treatment methods are not getting to the root of the problem."

Mercola continues "The problem with sinus issues is that that they're very easily misdiagnosed. Sinus problems and post-nasal drip can actually be a tip-off that you're being affected by mold or fungi. In fact, research done by the Mayo Clinic in the 1990s that strongly suggests nearly all chronic sinusitis is caused by fungi, but blamed on bacteria — then mistreated using antibiotics."

Many people who suffer from chronic sinus pressure, pain and infections have been through this cycle of antibiotic use in which the infection and pain will briefly clear up only to relapse a few weeks later. Constant use of antibiotics can make the problem worse and lead to imbalances in the digestive system.

A better approach to treat sinusitis is to get to the root cause of the problem and kill the fungus.

Mercola explains "To combat the fungus and prevent the immune system reaction, you'll need to create an environment that makes it more difficult for fungus to thrive."

Mercola suggests removing sugars and grains from the diet as these foods turn into sugar in the blood which feed the mold and fungal spores. It is also wise to include a fish oil, the best source being from cod liver which has vitamins A, D and K to help boost the immune system. Coconut oil also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to help kill an infection. Adding 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to every meal can help boost immune function.

There are many herbal supplements that are very effective at killing fungus. One of the most effective is oregano oil which comes in liquid or capsule form and can be taken several times a day to kill fungal and mold spores.

Many people find fast relief when using this supplement; however, it should only be taken in the short term as long term usage can lead to hormonal imbalances. Other beneficial supplements include garlic, echinacea, grapeseed oil, and vitamin C. It is also wise to keep the house dusted and remove any sources of mold in the home. An air filter that kills mold and fungus is a great addition to homes where mold may hide under floor boards or in the walls where it is not visible.

If sinus inflammation is a problem for you this spring, fight back by killing the fungus and mold that may be to blame. Before taking an antibiotic that may make the problem worse, try cutting out treats and sweets, include coconut and fish oil and take an anti-fungal herb to treat the root of the problem. With the sneezing and sinus pressure gone you can truly enjoy the beauty of this season.

Missy Beavers is certified health and wellness consultant as well as a weight loss consultant. She and her husband own the Health Habit in Willows. Her column appears on the second Wednesday of each month.

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