Relief for Sinus Infections

I had a sinus infection a couple weeks ago that actually helped me feel more confident about my health.  I have a lot of personal experiences with sinus infections but this time I was able to overcome it without the need for antibiotics and that feels good even just to think about.  So here’s my story:

The kids had been coughing on me for a while due to illnesses being passed around at school (and our ear infection episode), and finally I felt my throat getting sore and my sinuses began to hurt.  One morning I woke up early with extreme sinus pain and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I decided to mix up some of my natural nasal decongestant, and that felt like it burned up the infection in my sinuses – it was great, there was much less pain!  But I was busy at work that week, and the next day I stayed up until midnight finishing a project.

That intensity brought the infection back, much stronger, and the ginger mix didn’t help as much (though it did some, I took it twice the next day).  The pain was so bad the next night that I couldn’t even go to sleep, so I stayed up watching Jackie Chan movies to try and distract myself.  In between movies I would sit still and try to meditate for a little while until the pain became my focus again.  I also drank some water and ate some corn tortilla chips (I hadn’t eaten much that day except for some soup, and corn is drying so I hoped it would help reduce the mucus drainage).  I also ate a few ginger chews that night (a candy made of basically sugar and ginger, with the consistency of taffy).  Candice bought those ginger chews for me a few months before but they were too strong for me then, that night they went down easy. 🙂

So after a few movies the sun came up and so did everyone else.  Candice suggested I try using a hot/cold compress to help with the pain, so I did and I felt so much better that I was able to sleep (sitting up) for 4 hours!  Here is how that works (we learned this from a Naturopath in Oregon a few years ago):

Take 2 washcloths and get them both wet.  Put one in the freezer and one in the microwave for 30 seconds to one minute (or if you don’t have one – like us – you can put it in a pan with some water on the stove and heat it up).  You want to get it hot enough so you can barely touch it but not so hot that it burns your skin.  Then put the hot wet washcloth on your face where it hurts (sinus area or forehead if you have a headache).  Hold it there for about 2 minutes (if it doesn’t stay warm you may need to heat it up again during that time), then put it back in the hot water or in the microwave while you grab the cold one from the freezer and put that on your face (I usually stand up straight and press on the painful areas through the washcloth to focus the heat/cold on them).  After about 30 seconds, put the cold washcloth back in the freezer, make sure the other one is heated up, and repeat the process one or two more times.

So after I had a good nap, I felt much better and was able to eat some more that day and get to sleep that night (after using another hot/cold compress before bed).  I was feeling even better the next day and life got back to normal a bit, but I still had some drainage in my throat and I was still coughing up some mucus in the mornings.  The mucus had become clear and my sinuses felt much better (though they were still a bit tender) so I thought the infection was over.

However, when Candice took a look at my tongue a couple days later she said there was still an external pathogen in my system (which made sense because the mucus became colorful again the next day).  She told me to take some triphala, so I took about half a teaspoon mixed with some water twice a day for 2 days.  On the third day I had a loose stool, so that’s when I knew I needed to back off with the triphala (it has a laxative effect).  Candice suggested I cut back on the triphala and add a pinch of trikatu, only once a day.  So I did that for a couple days and then stopped.  By then I had no sinus pain (not even tenderness), my bowels returned to normal (after being loose for a couple days), and the mucus drainage had stopped altogether.  Life is good 🙂

Here is a before and after picture of Nickalus eating some of my home-made nasal decongestant – he actually seemed to like it, he had four bites before spitting any out!

Healing Paste for Bruises

Two days ago I was playing star wars with my two older boys, Kayin and Demitri. We each had a plastic retractable light saber and were sword fighting outside. I tried to get Eden to join us, but she declined to engage in our driveway battle. I was having a good time with Kayin while Demitri was getting his jacket and shoes on (and finding his light saber), but when Demitri came out I found myself on the retreat. Kayin kept a safe distance away while we hit the light sabers together, but Demitri came at me like a wild banshee, swinging his light saber like an axe while he lunged towards me smiling and laughing. At one point he smacked my fingers with a crazy swing and I took a time out to look for gloves, wincing from the pain. Unfortunately I didn’t find any, but soon afterwards I was able to convince them that we should go inside and have lunch.

Candice was at her office preparing her herbs 4 kids class that she will teach next week, so I kept busy making food for all of us to eat and didn’t do anything about my bruised finger. But the next morning it was very painful, so I put on a healing paste as I learned from my ayurvedic home remedies book (this is found in the section on sprains and strains, but it applies to bruises too):

Apply a Healing Paste. Make a paste out of 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt, with enough water to form the paste. Use cool water. Applying it to the injury will help reduce swelling.

Almost immediately the throbbing pain subsided, and now (a day later) the swelling is completely gone and my finger is not even tender!

Natural Home Remedies to Heal Ear Infections

written by Candice and Robert

We all had a wonderful holiday break from school and gained more first hand experience in healing ear infections then ever before. When the fevers and coughing turned into earaches and fluid draining from the ears of both our babies, we knew we had to do something. It came to a head when Hani refused to eat and was too weak and in pain to do anything but cry and be held (I think that was the day after the fluid started draining from one of Hani’s ears and both of Nickalus’ ears, as well as their noses). We had started putting garlic and mullein ear drops in their ears the day before but it wasn’t getting better, so we pulled out all our books (including the ones shown below), did some more research and came up with the following remedies that we used to help both our babies heal from their ear infections:

External Applications (in the ears, using cotton balls and Q-tips):

  • Turmeric, Hing (Asafoetida), Neem oil, Colloidal Silver with Tea Tree oil spray, and ear drops (Garlic and Mullein in an olive oil base). First, the colloidal silver with tea tree oil spray was used to sanitize the Q-tip that we used to clean the fluid out of the ear. Colloidal silver and tea tree oil are natural antibiotics and antiviral. Once the ear was clear of any noticeable fluid, we moistened a small cotton ball with the Garlic/mullein oil and with neem oil. Garlic and neem are well known for their antibacterial properties. Mullein is very soothing and takes away inflammation. After the cotton balls were slightly moistened with the oil, we rolled them in a mixture of turmeric and hing. Turmeric is antimicrobial plus has properties that heal skin tissue and decrease inflammation. Hing works like the garlic with its pungent smell to kill infection, but it also is very drying and helps to dry out the inner ear. We put these on cotton balls and put them in both babies’ ears, securing them with body tape.

Internal Applications (mixed with almond milk or water in a bottle):

  • Tea made by boiling water with goldenseal powder, hing, turmeric, trikatu, and honey in it. Goldenseal, although expensive is a very powerful natural antibiotic. It can be used both externally and internally in small amounts. Hing and trikatu (an Ayurvedic herb) works by increasing the body’s digestive activity to help boost the immune system. And turmeric again works like an antibiotic in the body. For every 2 cups of water or liquid, we used 1/8 to 1/4tsp of each herb. It is important to add the honey to this mixture when putting it in the bottle (don’t heat the honey). All of these herbs are very bitter and pungent (they don’t taste very good). We used Vanilla flavored Almond Milk bought at the store, so there was some sugar in this. If your child is under a year old and you do not feel comfortable using honey, you can substitute stevia or molasses. This tea or mixture helps heal the infections from the inside out and can be given when ever they want a drink.
  • Honey and Trikatu on a spoon is an ayurvedic home remedy for runny noses or productive (with mucus) coughs. Mucus builds in the digestive system first, before it shows up running out of a nose or rattling around in their lungs. Trikatu is a powerful herbal formulation that helps stimulate the digestive fire and dries up mucus in the digestive tract, boosting the immune system and enabling the body to get rid of the mucus. Adding a small pinch of trikatu to a spoon full of honey is an effective and quick way of getting rid of mucus in the lungs. The honey is essential, not only for taste (trikatu tastes like chilli pepper mixed with black pepper), but energetically honey brings the healing power of the herb to the lungs and upper body region. They work together to clear the digestive system and the lungs of mucus. Trikatu should not be used long term in children. Only for acute conditions and never longer than 5 days in children, the elderly, and pregnant women. The trikatu and honey combination can be given up to 3 times a day as needed.

Below is a picture of all the items (except the honey, I forgot to put that in the picture) we used to address the ear infections. We have access to the ayurvedic herbs – neem oil, goldenseal, and trikatu – because Candice is a medical herbalist. And if you want help locating these herbs, feel free to contact Candice through her website at All these items are not necessary, but we had them on hand so we used them all:


  • Cut up Figs and Dates – figs are excellent for children, and dates promote health and vitality. They are also good during teething, as their texture helps massage the gums. During ear infections, the movement of the jaw chewing also breaks down mucus in the inner ear and allows it to drain, breast feeding also does this.
  • Almond Milk – we switched from raw goats milk to almond milk in their bottles to help reduce the amount of mucus involved during this time. If your child has lots of mucus, in the ear or lungs, it is important to avoid mucus producing foods; such as dairy products, cold foods and drinks, processed sugar, fried foods, and berries.
  • Rice Porridge made in a similar fashion as my oatmeal

The morning after putting all those herbs in the babies ears on cotton balls taped to their heads with body tape, we were excited to see them acting more like themselves again (see picture to the right). This was very encouraging, they began eating again and wanting to play. A couple days later we got rid of the tape (and some of their hair, we cut some to make the tape removal less painful) but kept using turmeric and hing to keep reducing the fluid that was still draining a bit from their ears (as well as the ear drops to ensure the infections get totally resolved).

As you can see below, they are recovering very nicely – their ears are a bit orange because of the turmeric, but that’s okay. We used these remedies religiously for 5 days. It is important to be consistent with this treatment. As we found, stopping the remedy for a day or two resulted in increased drainage from the ears, specifically from Nickalus. We are back to using the turmeric and hing on a Q-tip that had been sprayed with the colloidal silver/tea tree oil rubbed in the ear two times a day. We will continue to treat them until there is no sign of fluid.

For plenty more home remedies which will empower you to take control of your own health, click on the book pictured to the right.

The picture of Hani shows the molar he pushed through in the back during this episode – he’s also working on the molar on the other side and an eye tooth – sickness often comes during teething due to the stress on the immune system during that time.

My Natural Nasal Decongestant

I have dealt with sinus congestion for all of my life, and I’ve tried many different ways to help, with varying success.  One thing I’ve found useful lately is based on something I learned about during the Ayurvedic cooking seminar I attended with Dr. Vasant Lad in New Mexico last year. 

my homemade decongestant

Dr. Lad prepared Chai Tea for everyone on Saturday morning and I reacted badly to the milk in it.  I was willing to try it because he spoke about the spices in it (cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg if I remember correctly) and said they reduce the mucilaginous properties of the milk.  But unfortunately it didn’t do the trick for me.  So I mentioned this during the class, and Dr. Lad took my pulses and gave me a few ginger slices with lime juice and salt on them to eat, in order to stimulate my agni (this is the name for the digestive fire in Ayurveda) and burn up some of the ama, or toxins, that were the cause of my sinus issues.

I had a hard time with the ginger slices, but the cooking class was continuing so it wasn’t really the time to address it.  Recently I discussed it with Candice and she suggested I try adding some coconut flakes to help relieve some of the shock of the strong mixture.  I tried that and now I have some every morning before breakfast, and it’s an instant relief every day for my sinuses and helps get rid of nasal drip also.  I have been using ginger paste from a jar because we have it, but I may start buying the actual ginger roots once I empty the jar.

Asthma Relief

A few years ago I purchased a book which detailed another process to help relieve nasal congestion. The focus of the book was asthma, but I was able to use the techniques (developed by a Russian doctor) to help provide much needed sinus relief for myself. I wasn’t able to find that same book recently when I looked for it, but I did find a similar one, called Dramatic Asthma Relief.