How does a blocked nose develop?
Mucus is a natural part of our body’s defence mechanisms, entrapping bugs and beasties and removing them from the body in a landslide of gunge. The problem comes when mucus solidifies and doesn’t flow freely from the mucus membranes in the respiratory tract – leaving you with a blocked nose.
Congestion has many unpleasant side effects, such as headaches, sinus pain and loss of taste and smell. Allowing the mucus to break up and move more freely is beneficial, if temporarily disturbing. Better out than in, is a worthy maxim in these cases.
When glued up with the gummy stuff, assist your body to unglue itself with a few dietary adjustments and herbal helpers.
How to reduce this congestion
The are a number of lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce congestion, and also some useful herbal remedies.
- Reduce or remove dairy products from your daily diet. This covers milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream, and many margarines that have whey powder in them. It can seem a little daunting but actually there are good alternatives in most health stores and even supermarkets these days. The benefit is a reduction in the production of mucus, which gives your beleaguered mucous membranes a respite.
- Reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet. Replace it with dried fruit and fruit bars. There are heaps of options in health stores, and you can now get stevia products as a direct sugar replacement. Refined sugar gives the pancreas a great deal of work to do, and can result in a heavier load for the mucous membranes.
- Up your intake of vitamin C, which strengthens the mucous membranes and is particularly good for the lining of the respiratory tract.
- Zinc is good for your lungs and your immune system, and also helps restore taste and smell. It’s found in pumpkin and sunflower seeds but a short course of a supplement isn’t a bad idea.
- The herb Plantago is a friend to the mucous membranes lining the Ear/Nose/Throat tract (ENT tract). It has an astringent action that helps to clear the mucus lying there and tone up the tissue that’s often become inflamed and irritated. An excellent choice for mopping up the mucoid misery after the actual cold has departed.
- Try a little Po Ho oil – it comes in an Inhaler Stick, or you can pop just one drop of the oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale gently. It’s very clearing for the sinuses.
Interestingly, it has recently been found that Echinacea, that stalwart of the cold and flu season, reverses the production of mucus during infection with a rhinovirus (a bug that causes a cold). There are special cells called goblet cells in the respiratory tract, and they secrete mucus when the cold virus hits. Obviously you need some of this slime to help trap and remove the bug, but taking Echinacea can help keep the mucus production within reasonable limits.