Ayurveda Panchakarma: Self Care at Home – Treating Sinus Congestion

The practice of Ayurvedic medicine requires training and licensing procedures similar to those required of medical doctors in the United States. After the applicant meets certain prerequisites, he attends Ayurvedic medical college for five-and-a-half years and then takes an internship and vigorous licensing examinations. New Ayurvedic physicians then have the option to continue their training and consider Panchakarma as a specialty. This entails another three years of education and research and is equivalent to a Ph.D.

Fortunately, more and more young physicians are recognizing Panchakarma’s profound curative benefits and are choosing it over other specialties that favor more palliative approaches to treatment. While many patients still seek simple, quick methods to eliminate symptoms, increasing numbers of doctors are discovering the deep satisfaction that comes from removing the causes of illness and educating patients for health-maintenance once health is restored.

The amount of people researching and experiencing Panchakarma is also growing. After learning about Panchakarma, many individuals wish to use it not only to treat current disorders, but also to sustain health and happiness and prevent future disease.

Though you cannot administer full Panchakarma regimens safely and effectively to yourself, there are some treatments that can be done at home to help eliminate ama and mala from the body. Though these are technically not considered Panchakarma procedures and do not provide the comprehensive benefits of Panchakarma therapy, they are shodhana, or cleansing in nature, and have a definite preventive value.

Before you undertake shodhana self-care, you must have some understanding of your vikruti, or doshic imbalance. When you know this, you can adopt supportive dietary and lifestyle regimens and use some of the appropriate shodhana procedures.

Treating Doshic Imbalances

If your appetite is frequently weak, your digestion is sluggish, you feel heavy and sleepy after eating and have excessive mucous secretions, sneezing and allergies, kapha is probably excessive. If you experience acidity, gas, bloating, sour burping, great thirst after eating or inner heat, it probably indicates pitta aggravation. If you have sluggish elimination, hard stools and frequent constipation; or if you feel extremely dry or cold and suffer from insomnia, anxiety or depression, then vata dosha is either excessive or obstructed. When you have doshic imbalances, your energy level is low or variable. While the following suggestions will not completely detoxify the body, they may reduce your symptoms and help you feel better.


If you suffer from a kapha imbalance, Ayurveda recommends taking only vegetable juices for a few days. Make the juices fresh and use vegetables with a bitter and pungent taste, such as asparagus, beet greens, bitter melons, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale and leafy greens.

Sinus Congestion

If you experience congested sinuses or severe sinus headaches, then you can try cleansing the sinuses with the following nose drops. Take two drops of juice extracted from fresh ginger root; add one drop of fresh lime juice and half a pinch of jaggery or Sucanat (dried sugarcane juice). Mix well with a little warm water and put one drop in each nostril twice a day. Before administering the drops, gently massage your face and sinus area vigorously with a little warm sesame oil and apply a hot towel or hot water bottle to the sinus area.

Lie on your back with yout head hanging off the end of the bed and place the drops in each nostril with the help of a dropper. Immediately afterwards, pinch the nostrils repeatedly while sniffing slowly and deeply. This helps draw the mixture up into the sinuses. Then again place a hot towel or hot water bottle over your nose and sinus area for a few minutes. You may experience a slight burning sensation as the drops are drawn up into the sinuses and then an increase in nasal secretions.

If you have a lot of burning in your nose, apply a little ghee to the inside of your nose. After you blow your nose, your nasal passages and head will generally feel clearer and lighter. After a few treatments, your symptoms should be reduced or gone. This procedure, however, is usually not recommended for those with pitta aggravation.

Daily Sinus Cleansing

Since the sinuses are the gateway to the brain, it is important to keep them clear and free of mucus so the flow of prana to this region remains unobstructed. The following cleansing stimuli can be used on a day-to-day basis to keep the sinuses open.

To sixteen ounces of water, add a half-inch of grated ginger, one teaspoon of licorice powder, one-quarter teaspoon of pippalt and one-quarter teaspoon of vacha. Boil this solution until it is approximately four ounces, or one-quarter its original volume. To this add four ounces of sesame oil and boil until the remaining water is evaporated. Strain the contents and store the oil in a sterile, airtight dropper bottle.

To administer the solution, lie on your back with your head off the end of the bed, or simply tilt your head back while in a standing position and place two drops in each nostril. Then pinch your nostrils repeatedly while inhaling deeply through the nose. It is important to warm the oil before each application. You can do this by placing the dropper bottle in hot water for a few minutes. Though this procedure is particularly effective in the early morning, you can also use it when needed during the day.

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