Herbal Health Information on Sinusitis

The sinuses are just open spaces lined with mucous membranes, easily irritated by whatever enters the airways.

It is thought that they make the skull lighter to carry around and provide a resonance box for sound production.
Here’s the problem though, an open space has no blood supply! Meaning we cannot get any medicine into an infected sinus to clear it up.
As many plants contain volatile oils which evaporate up into the sinuses once they hit the warmth of the stomach, herbal medicine has the answer.

One of the best ways to get medication up into the sinuses is to put essential oils into hot water and inhale the steam that comes off them.

• Fill a basin with very hot water.
• Add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil, 2drops of peppermint oil, and 3 drops of Camphor oil. ( or if you have Olbas oil that’s ok)
• Place a towel over your head and the bowl and inhale the rising steam for up to five minutes. Don’t put your face too near the hot water, to avoid scalding yourself. Also Peppermint oil is very strong so you may need to close your eyes whilst you are inhaling.

You can do this twice a day if you have sinusitis until the sinuses are clear.

The tinctures that help clear and tone sinuses are:
Eyebright, which we saw growing in the Downs walk video and elderflower, which we saw growing in the west rise marsh video.

Eyebright tones all mucous membranes as it is high in tannins and in doing so makes them toughened up and less susceptible to external irritants.

Elderflower, seen in the West Rise Marsh video,  is anti bacterial, anti viral and anti catarrhal, drying up the membranes and preventing them filling up with mucous. It is often a good idea to add an immune stimulating herb such as Echinacea to these two herbs to prevent reinfection.

These three herbs can be mixed in equal amounts and the resulting tincture taken at 5 mls twice a day in a little water. (Echinacea is yukky tasting)

Dietary advice is to dramatically reduce all dairy product intake, as dairy increases the amount of catarrh produced which will contribute to blocking the sinuses.

As usual you are very welcome to come and see me in my clinic, the details of which can be found by clicking here the “Clinic”

Linda Bostock
Medical Herbalist

Herbal Health Information.

Herbal Health Information on the Immune System and Colds

The Immune system is the body’s internal defence armoury, which protects us from the millions of germs out there. There are so many factors in modern day living which can affect our immune system, resulting in people picking up any virus going and suffering recurrent colds and coughs.

Stress, poor diet, Insomnia and any long term illness can all prevent the proper functioning of the immune system.

We really must look after ourselves. Put a bit of time and effort into YOU and the payback will be a healthier, fitter, happier, more energetic li



You must eat it!

Porridge/ muesli/ any wholegrain cereal/ fruit/juice. Not all at once!


Salads or baked potato or sandwich some fruit if you didn’t have any at breakfast


Cooked meal with some protein foods such as meat eggs or fish /pulses beans for the vegetarians or just if you like them. Fresh veg although fresh frozen will do if you are busy. Some carbohydrate such as rice potato or pasta.

Always vary it though and make sure you do not eat too much of any one thing. For example don’t eat toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. That’s three lots of wheat a day and the gut will not like digesting all that!

Loads of Vitamin C containing foods, which is all fruit and veg but especially citrus fruits and zinc containing foods which is oats, peas, pumpkin seeds, lentils and Oysters if you are feeling rich.

Zinc and Vit C help the body fight of viruses.

Drink water and not too much tea and coffee


Have a look at the article on stress to learn more, but briefly, make relaxation and switching off time for yourself. Dance, sing, read, watch a film, join a meditation or yoga class, anything that helps you to relax.

Exercise I can almost hear you groaning but this is really not an option. It gets the body in good shape to be able to cope with external and internal changes.

Alcohol and cigarettes also affect the immune system, so if you can reduce, it will help.


Echinacea is the Media’s herb of choice to boost the immune system which it does by raising the white blood cell count and increases the body’s own powers of resistance. It also has the ability to stimulate Killer cells called Phagocytes, that chomp up any foreign material in the body especially bacteria.

There is a problem with Echinacea though, in that many people are taking it constantly and bacteria are cunning little devils they have the ability to adapt and become immune to anything trying to kill them off. So Echinacea should only be taken,  EITHER when you feel a cold/cough coming on to boost the immune system and help the body fight the virus or bacteria OR for short periods of time to boost the immune system generally. About three weeks taking Echinacea is enough time to boost the immune system and then let the body take over. There are many over the counter preparations of Echinacea but make sure it is a good quality preparation with a licence, meaning it has been through a rigorous testing programme.

St John’s wort and Elder Flower have directly anti viral properties and elder is my herb of choice if someone presents with recurrent colds.

Never forget Garlic. I know some people won’t touch it because of the smell but eat as much garlic as you can in your food. It is the most astounding food for all kinds of conditions in the body one of them being to boost the immune system as well as having antiviral properties. As it is breathed out through the lungs, the volatile oils sterilise everything on the way up so it is a good cough and cold remedy.

If all else fails come and visit me in clinic!

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist, herbal Health Information

View clinic details here

The Elder Tree (Latin Name ……..Sambucus Nigra)

Parts used…….flower/bark/berries

I am not too proud to admit I probably use this herb more than is decent.

Elderflower on a Martello Tower

That’s because it does soo many different things and there is nothing better to reach for than elderflower tincture from my shelves, from the start of the hayfever season to the end of the coughs and colds season which is pretty much all year around!

Elder flowers are one of those things you either love or hate the smell of. They have a slightly sickly sweet smell that many people find overpowering.

But ignore the smell because you are looking at a flower that has such an astonishing range of actions it sounds like a complete herbal pharmacopeia all on its own!

It is antiviral, immune system stimulating, anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, diaphoretic (makes you sweat) diuretic and other actions you can look up but if I add in here it will just sound like showing off.

It is my herb of choice above Echinacea, if I am treating coughs, colds and boosting the immune system.

Although there are several anticatarrhal herbs such as ground ivy, from my experience elderflower is positively the BEST.

At this time of year it goes in every hayfever and anti-allergy mix I make up.

Because it makes you sweat and has relaxing properties, I also put it into mixes for high blood pressure.

Here come the warning bells ringing again…please do not self medicate if you have high blood pressure or any medical condition see a professional.

I pick the flower every year and dry it to store for use as a tea if anyone is feeling they have a cold coming on. It is the herbal equivalent of Beecham’s powders.

The berries, I collect to either make elderflower jelly (you need extra pectin) or a syrup for coughs throughout the winter.

The syrup is dead easy to make.

Pick however many elderberries you want and then make about one inch layers of berries with half an inch of granulated sugar in a  clean and heat sterilised jam jar. You will need to keep topping the jar up as the berries crush down.

Leave this preferably somewhere very mildly warm for about a week and then strain of the gorgeous thick dark red syrup and store it in another clean and heat sterilised jam jar. This is a wonderful soothing cough mixture which should be rich in vitamin C, iron and Bioflavonoids.

In the video you see the elderflower in a hedgerow at the Long Man at Willingdon, but if you look along any hedgerow you will see an elderflower tree dotted in amongst the other bushes. Later in the year we will go back and film the berries and I will show you how to make the elderberry syrup.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information