By Jiang Liu, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine
AR Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Clinic
2024 Arkansas Valley Dr., Suite 402
Little Rock, AR 72212


Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages. A sinus infection can cause a headache or pressure in the eyes, nose, cheek area, or on one side of the head. A person with a sinus infection may also have a cough, a fever, bad breath, and nasal congestion with thick nasal secretions. Sinusitis is categorized as acute or chronic.

Since anatomical location of sinuses, if sinusitis is left undiagnosed and untreated, the complications of sinusitis can occur that may lead to severe medical problems and possibly death. The complications may include: Infection of the frontal bone; Infection of the eye socket from ethmoid sinusitis; Formation of a blood clot in the sinus area around the front and top of the face; Infection of brain.

Acute sinusitis usually follows a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract, but allergy-causing substances or pollutants may also trigger acute sinusitis. Bacteria can cause acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis. Fungi are also becoming an increasing cause of chronic sinusitis, especially in people with diseases that weaken the immune system, such as AIDS, leukemia, and diabetes.

Conventional treatment
Medications most often used to treat sinusitis include:

  • Antibiotics: Kill bacteria or fungi
  • Antiallergic medicine: Improve the allergy
  • Decongestants: Reduce the swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose
  • Analgesics: Relieve pain
  • Mucolytics: Thin the mucus
  • Corticosteroids: Reduce inflammation in the nasal passages
  • Sinus surgery is generally a last line of defense for medical doctors

Chinese medicine
Acupuncture or/and herbal formula work very well on sinusitis. They can be used alone or combined with each other. There are several kinds of sinusitis and the following are commonly observed in clinical practice.


  • Symptoms: Stuffy nose, nasal discharge (yellow/green, thick), headache, inability to smell, aversion to cold, or fever
  • Tongue: Red on tip or sides
  • Pulse: Floating and rapid
  • Treatment principle:
    • Expel wind-heat
    • Induce diaphoresis
    • Restore the descending and dispersing functions of the lung qi

Liver/gallbladder heat

  • Symptoms: Yellow discharge, red face, headaches at frontal or temporal, irritability, and bitter taste in the mouth
  • Tongue: Red on the sides, greasy yellow tongue coating
  • Pulse: Wiry, slippery and fast
  • Treatment principle:
    • Clear liver and gallbladder fire
    • Restore the descending and dispersing functions of the lung qi

Heat in the lung

  • Symptoms: Thick nasal discharge, tender sinus area, heat signs – flushed face, thirst, and feelings of heat
  • Tongue: Red with sticky yellow coating
  • Pulse: Slippery, full
  • Treatment principle:
    • Clear lung-heat
    • Restore the descending and dispersing functions of the lung qi

Spleen deficiency – Stomach/spleen damp-heat

  • Symptoms: Heavy/foggy feeling in the head, sticky /yellow discharge, red cheeks, thirst, dry lips, frontal headache, chest/epigastrium oppression.
  • Tongue: Sticky yellow coating in the stomach or spleen area
  • Pulse: Slippery
  • Treatment principle:
    • Clear heat
    • Resolve dampness
    • Tonify stomach and spleen