I used to think there was only one kind of sinus infection—the super snotty kind. The kind where you went through a box of tissues a day and felt like your head was a 24/7 snot factory. I have had a few of those in my time, and while they were annoying (and kinda gross), they weren’t nearly as painful as what I learned last year is the other kind of sinus infection. The dry sinus infection.
Dry sinus infections happen when the mucus that builds up stops moving and turns into virtual concrete in your head. This creates incredible pain and pressure. And since nothing is moving, this kind of sinus congestion can take ages to get past. I should know, because I fought these kinds of dry sinus infections for months last winter. I was totally miserable!
Should I talk to my health care professional before I use this natural sinus relief home remedy?
My answer is always going to be YES. Anytime you are concerned with a health condition, it’s worth putting in a call to your trained health care professional. As with all of my home remedies, it is vital that you check with your qualified health care professional before treating yourself or your family. I am not a trained herbalist, naturopath, or health care professional, so these recipes are offered for informational purposes only. And while this particular remedy is pretty tame (it’s made with all food-based ingredients), I also have no idea what your medical history or medications are, so please check in with a trusted pro who is familiar with your particular situation before diving in.
Can’t you just treat sinus infections with antibiotics?
I wish it was that simple! But I spoke with my health care professional, and learned that many sinus infections are not caused by a bacterial infection—meaning that antibiotics won’t help (it’s important for you to check with your health care professional either way). My “prescription” for my viral sinus congestion was to use a saline spray or neti pot, rest, and drink lots of water.
I did all of those things, but I also started doing my own research about other home remedies that might help. And of course, I turned to my favorite herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, for help. In her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, she talks about how horseradish is her herb of choice for treating sinus congestion and sinus infections.
What goes into this all-natural sinus relief home remedy?
It’s incredibly simple to mix up a batch of Sinus Kicker—just combine fresh, grated horseradish (from the actual root, NOT prepared horseradish that you find in the condiment aisle), raw honey, apple cider vinegar, and a hefty pinch of salt.
How does horseradish work for natural sinus relief?
If you’ve ever put too much prepared horseradish on your sandwich or too much wasabi on your sushi (most wasabi is actually not wasabi, but dyed green horseradish—the more you know), you know the powerful effects of horseradish. Your eyes start watering, your nose starts running, and you are a sniffling, snotting mess. Which is exactly the effect you’re looking for when trying to unplug sinus congestion. I’m not going to lie, it’s not exactly pleasant—imagine what it feels like when you cut up a bunch of onions—but it’s way better than the persistent pain and pressure from sinus congestion. Horseradish almost immediately gave me the natural sinus relief I was looking for.
Where do I even find a fresh horseradish root?
If you don’t happen to be growing horseradish in your backyard (most of us don’t!), then check for them at your local supermarket. It can be hit or miss, but if you have a local store that has a particularly great produce section, you’ll probably find a horseradish root next to the ginger root and turmeric root.
What’s better for natural sinus relief—grating, chopping, or food processing horseradish?
There are three ways to prepare the horseradish for this home remedy—grating it on a box grater, chopping it into small pieces by hand, or pulsing it in a food processor. They’ll all work, but the different methods produce different results. Why? Because the second fresh horseradish is exposed to air, the compounds in it that give it that spicy “kick” start to activate. The longer the chopped horseradish is exposed to the air, the spicier it gets. To halt the chemical process, you mix the horseradish with vinegar.
The nature of the beast is that hand grating or hand chopping will take longer and in that time, the spice will get stronger and stronger, making for a more potent (but admittedly, not as comfortable to take) medicine. Doing it by hand also means that you will be exposed to those fumes the whole time you are working on it—which is a great mini-treatment if you’re the one suffering.
The food processor makes quick work of it, meaning you can add vinegar immediately and get a mild batch of Sinus Kicker, or wait a few minutes for a stronger version. I prefer the food processor because it’s quicker and I get to control how potent the remedy is.
Can Sinus Kicker give me relief from other kinds of sinus congestion (colds, allergies, etc.)?
I’ve had good results with using Sinus Kicker for all kinds of sinus congestion, not just dry sinus infections. Anytime it doesn’t feel like things are moving properly, I take a (small) spoonful of this to get things running along again.
How do you take Sinus Kicker?
Like most of my home remedies, Sinus Kicker lands in the beautiful intersection of food and medicine—so you can easily eat it just like you would a food! If I’m really hurting, I’ve been known to just take a small spoonful straight to get things going. But do be careful! This stuff is spicy, so start small.
If you enjoy the flavor and kick of horseradish, you might really enjoy Sinus Kicker as a condiment! I think a little bit on a cracker with some goat cheese is super tasty—I eat that even when I’m not dealing with sinus congestion!
How does Sinus Kicker taste?
Since this is a food-based medicine, you’re probably curious if it tastes good. I really love it! I think the heat of the horseradish is an amazing compliment to the sweetness of the honey. Treat it just like you would a condiment—a little goes a long way.
But don’t make the same mistake that I did! Yikes.
The first time I took Sinus Kicker, I took a spoonful and within 60 seconds my stomach started churning, and I became incredibly nauseated. Why? Aside from being awesome for natural sinus relief, horseradish is also an incredibly potent digestive kickstarter. I had taken the Sinus Kicker on an empty stomach and my tummy was none-too-pleased about it! Ever since, I’ve made sure to only take Sinus Kicker after a good meal or snack—no more nausea.
How long does Sinus Kicker keep? What about leftover fresh horseradish root?
We’ve had Sinus Kicker keep in the fridge for a full cold and flu season without any issues—honey is an amazing natural preservative that keeps it from going off quickly. Chances are, you’ll have leftover horseradish root from making this recipe, which is fine because horseradish root also lasts forever in the fridge! Wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and it’ll stay fresh for months in the crisper drawer. If you don’t want to use plastic, wrap it in a damp towel, but make sure to refresh the towel every few days.