One of the most common mistakes I see doctors make is the prescribing of antibiotics without first performing a culture. This is especially true for sinus infections. Time and time again I have seen people given antibiotics for sinus infections without a culture. The majority of the time antibiotic therapy fails. The problem is that antibiotics work against bacteria, but the majority of sinus infections are fungal in origin. If a fungal infection is present in the sinuses antibiotic therapy will not only fail, but the therapy will make the condition worse. The sinuses, like various other parts of the body, contain beneficial bacteria. These bacteria, among other functions, help to control fungal overgrowth. As antibiotics kill off the beneficial bacteria the fungal infection becomes free to grow uncontrolled.
Fungal infections of the sinus cavity are actually extremely difficult to eradicate. My former business partner suffered with a fungal sinus infection for seven years when I met him. He was prescribed antibiotics over and over without any success. A few doctors did run cultures, though the cultures failed to show infection. I made him a concoction of osha’ root, cayenne pepper and licorice root. The next day a large fungus ball came out of his sinuses. Analysis by a medical lab determined that the infection was a very aggressive black fungus. The constant antibiotic therapy just increased the hold the fungus had in his sinus cavity.
Further complicating the problem is the fact that the sinus cavity is a warm, moist environment. This is the perfect growing environment for fungus. Even one surviving spore or fungal cell will simply allow the infection to grow back if the naturally acidic terrain is not reestablished by the beneficial bacteria to control the fungal growth.
Many feel the best way to address sinus infections is to first get a culture so the type of infection is known. If the infections are proven to be bacterial, pharmaceutical or herbal antibiotics such as pau d’ arco, are recommended. Fungal infections are best addressed by trying to restore the flora in the sinus cavity. Probiotic supplements, or probiotic food, such as yogurt or kefir can help. A probiotic powder, such as acidophilus powder may be made into a liquid with the addition of distilled water for nasal irrigation or snuffing. This will help elevate levels of beneficial bacteria in the sinus cavity. Eating horseradish may also help.
Horseradish root contains a volatile oil with extremely strong antiseptic properties. When ingested, the oil is absorbed into the bloodstream and excreted through the respiratory passages. By trying to breathe through the nose the oil is forced up into the sinus cavity where it can help fight infection.
Limiting the intake of simple sugars and other high glycemic foods may also help. Consumption of alcohol and caffeine should also be eliminated.
Maintaining a healthy immune system is also essential. A few suggestions are the herbs amla berry, schisandra berry, astragalus, jiaogulan and myrrh. Other recommended supplements include 50 mg of zinc daily, 200 micrograms of selenium three times a day, and 100IU daily of vitamin A. Vitamin C is important, though excessive doses are not recommended. Natural sources of vitamin C are more effective than synthetic forms. This is why I recommend amla berry, acerola cherry or rose hips which are my favorite sources of natural vitamin C.