Allergy, Immune | September 13, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Polyps are soft, benign growths that resemble teardrops or grapes on the end of a stalk. They commonly occur in the back of the nose, near the opening to the sinuses either individually or in groups. They are often painless but can interfere with breathing and may lead to infections. 1 in 200 people have nasal polyps and they are more common in people with hayfever and other nasal allergies. The overuse of medicated nose drops and nasal sprays also contribute to their occurrence. Unfortunately, people who have surgery to remove nasal polyps have a 50% chance of them growing back. Another common medical recommendation is the use of nasal cortisone sprays or antihistamines. Either way it’s not really getting to the core of the problem.
Sometimes there are no symptoms. Occasionally they can bleed or cause a blockage in the tunnel that connects the sinuses to the nose. This blockage can lead to breathing problems and may result in sinus infections. Nasal polyps are associated with inflammation of the lining of your nasal passages.
Nobody is really sure what the exact causes are but it is believed that an abnormal immune response is involved. They are linked to asthma, allergic rhinitis, aspirin allergy, sinus infections and cystic fibrosis. They mainly occur by the age of 40 but can happen at any age.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available in natural therapies without the side-effects. They are aimed at reducing allergies, infection, reducing polyp size and preventing more from growing.
Essential oils mixed with saline are a great alternative to medicated sprays and are safe to use daily. Tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme and peppermint essential oils have many different actions which benefit those with nasal polyps. They reduce infection, clear congestion and unblock the sinuses. Alternatives to natural nasal sprays include nasal irrigation and a steam inhalation.
Bromelain is a natural substance found in the fibre dense core of pineapples. Quercetin is found in a variety of foods, mainly green leafy vegetables, broccoli, berries, red wine, onions and apples. Both of these substances reduce allergies and decrease swelling and inflammation. Try eating more of these foods in the diet but for a stronger action supplementation may be required.
Vitamins A, C and E, selenium and zinc are all specific nutrients important for immune system health, to prevent infection and to promote balance in the case of autoimmunity. They help to reduce damage to the lining of the sinuses caused by inflammation and infection. Vitamin A is a key nutrient for the health of our mucus membranes, particularly those in the sinus cavity.
People with chronic rhinosinusitis and nasal polyps are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. In addition to this, vitamin D deficiency is associated with worsened symptoms. One study found that when patients supplemented with vitamin D they had a decrease in human sinonasal fibroblast (HSNF) activity compared to control. Elevated levels of HSNF are associated with chronic rhinosinusitis and thought to play a major role in disease activity.
One major component in the development of nasal polyps is inflammation of the nasal cavity. Turmeric is natures strongest anti-inflammatory and may therefore assist in nasal polyp prevention and treatment. Turmeric can be added to cooking but for a stronger action it is recommended that curcumin be taken. Curcumin is the active component of turmeric which can be taken in tablet form.
Fish or cod liver oil could also be taken to reduce inflammation and provide relief of nasal polyps. Cod liver oil naturally contains vitamins A and D which can provide further mucus membrane and immune assistance.
There are lots of herbs in Western herbal medicine that are specific for conditions involving the nasal cavity. They usually provide a range of desirable outcomes such as reduced mucous congestion, infection, allergy and inflammation. Such examples include andrographis, eyebright, elderflower, goldenrod, garlic, albizia and goldenseal. A small daily dose can be taken as a preventative and then increased in response to a cold, allergy or infection.
Allergens play a significant role in the health of our sinuses. It is helpful to identify what allergens could be contributing to your symptoms and then looking at ways to avoid them.
Common environmental triggers include animal dander, pollens, grass, mould and dust mites.
Food allergens could be playing a role too and this could involve a reaction to soy, wheat, dairy, tree nuts, fish, eggs, yeast and corn.
Your doctor or naturopath can assist you in identifying allergens in your diet and environment which could be exacerbating your symptoms.
The aim here is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in omega-3, antioxidants and fibre for healthy bowels. Cut down on grains and processed foods and increase your portion of healthy proteins (from both plant and animal sources) and vegetables. Raw nuts and seeds (if you don’t react to them), are a concentrated source of vitamin E, selenium, omega-3 and protein.
Avoid inferior quality cooking oils such as sunflower, canola and soybean oil. Instead opt for cold-pressed olive, avocado and coconut oil. Flaxseed oil is a rich source of omega-3 but isn’t recommended for cooking. It can be added to salad dressings, raw cookies, cooked porridge or mashed potatoes.
Sagit M, et al. Effect of antioxidants on the clinical outcome of patients with nasal polyposis. J Laryngol Otol. 2011 Aug;125(8):811-5
Carroll WW, et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased human sinonasal fibroblast proliferation in chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2016 Jun;6(6):605-10. doi: 10.1002/alr.21704. Epub 2016 Jan 11.
Kou W, et al. Andrographolide suppresses IL-6/Stat3 signalling in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps. Inflammation. 2014 Oct;37(5):1738-43