Can TCM be used to treat chronic sinusitis?

PHOTO: Can TCM be used to treat chronic sinusitis?

SINGAPORE - In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), otitis media is probably caused by the deficiency of the lungs, spleen and liver.

Good circulation of qi (energy) and blood are needed for good health.

The lungs control respiration and are the most vulnerable among the organs to external pathogens, such as "wind", "heat", "cold", "dampness" and phlegm.

These pathogens disturb the flow of qi of the lungs, causing abnormal secretions in the respiratory tract. These then trigger otitis media with ear pain, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), impaired hearing, blocked or runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache and fever.

When the pathogens attack the lungs for a prolonged period, it can create internal "heat" and convert fluid into phlegm that blocks the ears. This triggers otitis media with impaired hearing, blocked nose, dry throat and cough. It also causes yellow phlegm, mucus and urine.

When the spleen is dysfunctional, it converts food nutrients into phlegm and "dampness", instead of qi and blood. These block qi in the lungs, causing otitis media with tinnitus, impaired hearing, blocked nose and cough. The phlegm and mucus will be white.

Negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, worry or stress can lead to stagnation of qi in the liver, which generates "heat" and "fire" there. These and internal "dampness" rise to the ears and trigger otitis media with impaired hearing, bitterness in the mouth, distension around the ribs, constipation and yellow urine.

Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and cupping (placing heated cups on the skin to enhance qi and blood circulation) can help to improve your friend's condition by strengthening her organs and dispelling the pathogens.

Chinese herbs such as safflower, peach seed, nutgrass galingale rhizome and turmeric root-tuber enhance qi and blood circulation.

Peppermint, honeysuckle flower, chrysanthemum flower, weeping forsythia capsule and platycodon root strengthen the lungs, and dispel "wind" and "heat".

Biond magnolia flower, Siberian cocklebur fruit, Sichuan lovage rhizome, grassleaf sweetflag rhizome and dahurian angelica root reduce the amount of mucus. Plantain seed and oriental waterplantain rhizome reduce the amount of ear discharge.

Cablin patchouli herb, fortune eupatorium herb, Indian bread, dried tangerine peel, codonopsis root and milkvetch root strengthen the spleen and dispel "dampness" and phlegm.

Cape jasmine fruit, Chinese gentian, Chinese thorowax root and baical skullcap root dispel "heat" and "fire" in the liver.

Sufferers should avoid spicy, deep-fried, cold and raw food and alcohol and eat easily digested food such as porridge, barley and leafy vegetables to strengthen the spleen.

They should avoid negative emotions and slow down their lifestyles to enhance qi circulation.

Regular exercise is also advised such as brisk walking, swimming or doing yoga, to improve her immune system and prevent respiratory infections such as cold, flu and sinusitis.

Sufferers should also avoid smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke and having the fan or air-conditioning blow directly at them.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner at YS Healthcare TCM Clinic at The Adelphi

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