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Garlic and Sinus Infections

April 14, 2011 · 44 comments

in Health & Fitness

Just as a disclaimer, I am not a doctor and I am not suggesting anyone avoid obtaining medical care for any illnesses…

Since my son came down with Cdiff a couple months ago, I have been investigating ways to avoid antibiotics.  (FYI, people on antibiotics are more likely to contract Cdiff since antibiotics kill the good bacteria in your gut.)

One of the reasons my son has frequently been on antibiotics is because of recurrent sinus infections.  He would take a 10 day course of Keflex or whatever, be fine for a week or so, and then the sinus infection would come raging back.  We would then return to the doctor, who would prescribe yet another antibiotic.  What I have since learned is that quite often, sinus infections do not even require antibiotics.

So, since I have begun my quest to avoid antibiotics, my son has had 2 sinus infections.  At least I suspect they were sinus infections since he has had high fevers and all the typical symptoms of a sinus infection.   Anyway, I did not take him to the doctor when he was sick for these infections.  (Side note:  had his symptoms gotten worse, we would have definitely sought medical care.)  Instead, I did some research on the internet and tried to find a holistic treatment.  (Gosh do I wish I would have done this sooner!!!)

One suggestion that is often made to relieve a sinus infection is to flush the sinuses using a Neti Pot.  Well, my son is very resistant to that treatment, so I thought I would try other methods first.  One idea I came across that seemed interesting was to use garlic to fight a sinus infection/nasal congestion.

What I do is this:  I put some water in a pot and heat it to boiling.  While the water is heating, I mince fresh garlic (about 3 garlic ‘segments’ ) and put it in the water.  Once steam is created, I have my son inhale the garlic steam (with his eyes closed).  After a couple minutes, the mucous is loosened up and he blows his nose.  He does that a few times until everything is ‘gone’, and we repeat it again later when he is ‘full’ again.  On average, he would use the garlic steam a few times a day.  Both times we have tried this method, he was able to beat the infection without antibiotics.

However, I suppose it is possible that he would have beaten the sinus infections on his own without breathing in garlic vapors. Regardless, the garlic treatment did clear out his sinuses for a while each time, and he was more comfortable. When we were on vacation and his most recent infection struck, we didn’t have access to boiling water.  So, I improvised by buying pre-minced garlic in a jar and running the shower in the bathroom.  He would go into the steamy bathroom (we called it the ‘hotbox’), remove the lid from the garlic, and just breathe in the aroma of the minced garlic while surrounded by steam.  This also helped relieve his congestion.

Some people also swear by eating garlic or taking garlic capsules when they are ill.  I have not tried ingesting garlic, and therefore cannot say whether it is effective or not.  I will say the garlic steam does seem to help my son’s sinuses though.  However, do not try this treatment if you are allergic to garlic!  Also, garlic can interfere with certain medications like anti-coagulants, so please speak with a doctor before using garlic for any kind of treatment (or if you are nursing).

What holistic methods do you use to fight infections?

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

First Gen American April 14, 2011 at 5:42 am

I often joke about how my mother walks around smelling like a dill pickle when she’s sick. She makes a garlic rub out of garlic and vinegar and puts it all over herself. She eats it too.

My main form of treatment is lots of fluids…I drink gallons of tea and soup when I’m sick.

I wonder how old my 2 year old would need to be to adhere to this treatment. He is also on antibiotics a lot because of sinus infections.


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

First Gen, it really helps if they are able to blow their nose, which might be a little hard for a 2 year old. But, you could always give it a try. Just the garlic steam may open up the passages some and make the child more comfortable if nothing else.

I can just picture Babci walking around smelling like a pickle!


Deidre April 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Sandy…I would love to know more about that home remedy! Does she use apple cider vinegar? ACV has alot of antibiotic properties.


Dianna April 14, 2011 at 7:00 am

I can’t wait to try this (not that I want anyone to get sick).

A friend just told me that she mixes 1/4 tsp turmeric in 1/4 C warm water and drinks that. An Indian friend told her to try that for a sinus infection. Tumeric has anti-inflammatory properties. (I had read to use it for joint pain, too.) Haven’t tried it yet, but am going to.

Do you use the Neti-pot? My whole family could benefit from one but I doubt they would try it. (Except for M, she’ll do anything!)


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:28 am

Dianna, the neti pot scares me, so I will continue with garlic steaming.

I will look into the tumeric too- thanks for sharing that idea.

I hope everyone stays healthy and you never have to try my tip!


Andi B. @ Modern Tightwad April 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I actually have a friend who drinks turmeric tea to help with inflammation due to asthma. He swears by it. I get a sinus infection once a year and tried a saline rinse similar to the neti pot once and I couldn’t make it. If I need I use a saline nose spray (usually an OTC with a bit of eucalyptus) and it works great.


Moneycone April 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

Excellent tip Kris! It is amazing how effective these age-old remedies are! Sometimes I think we rely too much on modern medicine.


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

I agree MC. Antibiotics definitely have their place, but I do think they are relied on way too heavily, and we are paying the price for that with all the resistant bugs that are cropping up out there.


Money Reasons April 14, 2011 at 11:17 am

I’ll have to investigate this! I’ve been laid out by sinus infections in the past.

Mostly we use vick to unclog our nasal passages, but if garic works, that sounds pretty great too.

Better for the individual and better for society by not taking antibotics!

Kudos to you for finding a cheap, society benefiting and healthy solution to a recurring problem 🙂


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

If you feel a sinus infection coming on, try this right away to try and nip it in the bud. Others swear by drinking a glass of juice with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in it (you need the ACV with the ‘mother’ in it though, like Dr. Braggs, not Heinz).


Crystal @ BFS April 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

Luckily we are not sick often, but when we are, we bombard ourselves with over-the-counter meds. I will have to try some more holistic approaches in the future…


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:26 am

The only OTC medicine that seems to do much for us is Mucinex. Some things seem to make me feel better initially, but then feel worse a few hours later.


Crystal @ BFS April 14, 2011 at 11:38 am

Oh, during an asthma attack, being in a cold room and drinking ice water helps me breathe better until I can get to an inhaler…


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

Oh, don’t you hate that feeling of having an attack and not being near an inhaler? Very scary. If desperate, I drink caffeine as that will open the tubes up some at least.

Another thing I hate- when the inhaler doesn’t seem to have any medicine left in it!


Kevin Yu April 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

Wow this is great…I can’t wait to try this!


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

Let us know if you try it and how it goes!


Linda April 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

It could be mainly the steam that is helping to clear up the infection. Adding the garlic doesn’t hurt, though, I’m sure. My next-door neighbor is a very nice older woman from Croatia. She has a bottle of home-brewed slivovitz (grape brandy) that she has infused with garlic and tells me she tries to drink a shot of that every day to stay healthy. I’m sure having a shot of brandy every day would make me feel pretty good, too! 😉

Since I stared taking mega-doses of Vitamin D (5,000 units a day) under my doctor’s supervision and at her recommendation I don’t get sick very often. When I do start feeling less than well, I wind things down and get extra rest. That takes some discipline since there are so many demands on me (just like everyone else), but when I’m not feeling well I stick to my guns. (This also goes hand in hand with not showing up at work to spread around the newest virus as a courtesy to my coworkers.)


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

I wish everyone decided to stay home when sick, it drives me crazy when I see someone hacking away next to me.

Garlic actually has some antibiotic/antibacterial properties so it is a great natural healer. I wish I could bring myself to just eat a clove of minced garlic a day. I do mix it with hummus sometimes though and that is pretty tasty.


Jenna April 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Love the garlic idea. Thanks for sharing! I’m a big fan of resting and letting your body to it’s thing.


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

Jenna, resting and steaming are both a great thing. If you ever try it, let us know how it goes.


krantcents April 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

As a teacher, I am around sick kids all the time. In addition, my wife is a nurse and she has the same plight! We have managed to not get sick because of two things, one we take vitamins and the other is washing our hands. I use sanitizer, because I can’t leave my classroom all the time. Once a year, my wife and I get our flu shots too.


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:21 am

I have often wondered how nurses/teachers do not end up sick all the time. I think you must build up an immunity somehow too.

My son and I both wash our hands constantly, but still end up sick quite a bit. Could be the asthma makes us more prone, and I know he has sinus problems.

Just as a side note, hand sanitizer does nothing to kill C diff…. (But I know it is effective against a million other bugs out there.)


Heather April 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm

My neighbor just recently had a sinus infection and said she did daily steam treatments, but with tea tree oil. She said it was very effective, but the smell might take some getting used to.


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:20 am

Heather, I do think steam is a great thing, and I have read of all kinds of different things to boil when you do the steaming. I tried garlic first because I had it on hand, but I have also read about the tea tree oil. I think the key is getting all that nasty mucous out of your system, and if steam helps that along, then why not try it?


Deidre April 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I have allergies and swear by my Neti pot. It takes a bit of getting used to but it works wonders! Garlic does well too as does my standard golden seal/echineaca treatment. These herbs actually attack the cold virus itself and prevent it from taking hold.

I personally have not taken antibiotics for years and try not to take them if at all possible. The last time I was on a course of antibiotics it was when I was bit by a brown recluse spider in Lousianna 🙂 Horrible!!


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:19 am

So many people love their Neti Pot, even though it scares me. I just keep thinking I will drown.

Glad you took antibiotics for that spider bite, that must have been horrifying! Were you scared??? I have been on antibiotics quite a bit in recent years, but I think the only time I probably really ‘needed’ them was when I had Lyme Disease. Doxcycline was a miracle drug when going through that.


Deidre April 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I was so sick (103 temp) and halucenating that I was not scared LOL
I will spare the details but it was a large bite and I was on the antibiotics for about a month. It took 2 months to heal all the way. The dang spider was so small I didn’t even see it!!!

A suggestion I would make on the Neti Pot is to go slow. Technically all you do is tilt your head so that that the liquid runs from one side of the sinus cavity to the other thus washing it out. You don’t have to hold your breath, you breathe through your mouth.

Another suggestion is to use plain water at first just so you get used to it. No need to add anything until you feel comfortable 🙂


101 Centavos April 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I have a Neti pot, but until now I’ve been to chicken to use it. Sorry to hear about your little guy, sinus infections are miserable. Glad that the garlic seems to have *some* effect.


Kris April 15, 2011 at 10:16 am

Count me a chicken too 101!

My son is 100 percent better now from his sinus problems. I am so much more reluctant to go to the doctor when illness strikes now. I think part of why my son and I have been prescribed so many antibiotics over the years is because we are asthmatic, and they never want an infection to ‘go bad’.

So, did you try the Neti pot? I wasn’t sure based on your comment.


101 Centavos April 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

No, I haven’t tried it. I haven’t had to since I started taking echinacea on a semi-regular basis. It’s seemed to work for me, I’m not afflicted with allergies like I used to be.


Deidre April 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm

101…echinacea is awesome!!! I just love it! 🙂 If you have a flare-up, give the Neti Pot a try…I bet you will get the hang of it quickly 🙂


Barb Friedberg April 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Home remedies are frequently quite good in my non medical opinion. Heck, I don’t even like MD shows on tv :). I swear by zinc lozenges at the first hint of a cold.


Kris April 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Barb, I love those MD shows. I was addicted to Trapper John MD and Quincy as a kid! ER was great too.

What other home remedies do you have?? I need to try the zinc lozenges!


Heather April 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I started using my Neti Pot every day when I got home from work, and I haven’t been sick since.

That said, if I’m starting to feel run down, I make sure to get some extra sleep.

Also, sugar inhibits your immune system, so if you suspect you’re getting sick, it is wise to cut out the sugar.


Little House April 17, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Someone was recently telling me that they brew tea mixed with apple cider vinegar, cinnimon, and a little cayenne pepper to relieve congestion. I’m sure you could find the recipe on line (I’m pretty sure I’m missing an ingredient or two). They were sure that their remedy had cured their head cold. I would think it might also help out with a sinus infection. Thanks for sharing the information about the garlic!


Akhira April 13, 2012 at 5:48 am

I just want to sincerely share my mother’s experienced about certain antibiotics which causes her to be almost dead but luckily God forbids and still gave her a second chance. You may find it very rare but then it’s true which even the expert can’t totally explain why such accident really happens. It’s been the case of having an allergy which some antibacterial medicine so ideally we must take some time to asked the expert about it even if it’s all natural since we can’t be so sure that it soothes our immune system.


Doreen November 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm

This may a bit late but I would look into what’s causing the sinus infections to avoid the antibiotics. My son had constant ear and sinus infections which were caused by a dairy protein allergy (not to be confused by lactose intolerance).


Kris November 10, 2012 at 10:43 am

Doreen, that is a good point. We did try the dairy avoidance tests and such, which did nothing. His adenoids were enlarged at one point, but we never re-scanned to see if they went back down. We did find that treating with Bendadryl when symptoms started seemed to help ‘nip it in the bud’.


Carol March 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I came across your post about treating sinus infections with garlic as I am winding back on antibiotic use because my body doesn’t cope well with any man-made medicines and I agree with Doreen – finding the cause is very important. I was diagnosed with post viral fatigue a few years ago and it was only through my insistence of finding the cause that we discovered that it wasn’t post viral fatigue, but chronic sinus infections. Further investigation revealed that I’m gluten intolerant and any products with wheat in them cause me almost instant irritation in the ear, nose and throat. Further testing revealed that I’m allergic to dust mites and plantain weed. These last two allergies are the ones that are causing the sinus infections and possibly my high sensitivity to wheat and gluten. The process of elimination can be long and painful, but is worth it in the end. I hope your son overcomes the sinus infections. I really feel for him.
PS: I have been treating my most recent sinus infection with high potency organic garlic capsules and, although it isn’t gone, it has improved greatly.


Kimmie December 5, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I’ve been dealing with terrible sinus infection since I first got into college. The health services place on campus treated me by putting me on 5 different antibiotics all in a four month span. One of those antibiotics I had a severe reaction to, and ever since then I’ve been looking for ways to help deal with this persistent sinus pain. I just wanted to comment and say the garlic in boiling water REALLY helped relieve my sinus pain and congestion. I seriously have tried almost everything, and this has helped me make it through studying for my finals! Thank you so much for sharing!


Melinda December 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I was having trouble shaking a sinus infection, I tried this and it worked amazingly well! I would definitely give this a thumbs up! hanks for sharing.


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Christopher October 29, 2013 at 3:00 am

This would work much better if you let the garlic sit for 15-20 minutes for the allicin in the garlic to develop and dont add until you stop boiling so that you don’t cook the garlic.


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