For an even cheaper option, try acupressure, which a practitioner can teach you to do on your own. Basically, this means using your thumb or middle finger to put firm pressure on points in various places on your face.
Given suggests pressing the point between the eyebrows right above the nose, as well as the points on the face where the crease of the smile ends–about an inch on either side of the nostrils. To get real relief, you have to push until it hurts a bit. “Bearing down on these points can increase circulation in the nasal cavities and remove inflammation-causing substances from the tissue,” he says. You can do this in lieu of acupuncture, or as a way of giving yourself a tune-up between appointments.
It sounds counterintuitive, but a good brisk workout can also bring sinus relief. Krouse found that 81 percent of the chronic sinusitis patients he surveyed said vigorous exercise lessened their symptoms. “Exercise releases adrenaline,” says Krouse, “which causes the nose to decongest.”
The potions and pills of Chinese medicine can also help. Practitioners typically recommend one of two common herbal formulas: “pe min kan wan” and “bai yan pin.” Other single herbs, including goldenseal and Oregon grape, are good choices, too, because their antibacterial qualities can help quash infections. Horseradish root, eyebright, and goldenrod reduce inflammation. Check in with an herbalist or a doctor of Chinese medicine to get a tincture or herbs you can make into a tea.
“The herbs my acupuncturist gives me taste really awful, but I just take a deep breath and chug down the tea,” says McEntire. “The bitter taste only lasts a couple of seconds, and in the end it’s so worth it. What’s a little bitterness if you can breathe again?”