As a chronic nasal polyps sufferer, I explored many treatment options and undertaken extensive research on this condition. I concluded that a holistic approach works best, available only in traditional systems of medicine.
“Ayurveda” or “Science of Life” is a system of healing that originated in the Indian sub-continent and is today known throughout the world. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, but conservative estimates put the history of Ayurveda as beginning somewhere in 3000 BC.
Its essential principles state that human beings are part of nature and share the same basic composition. Life consists of five basic universal elements: air, fire, water, earth and ether and three elemental substances (“doshas”) which need to be in equilibrium for health because they control the physiological functions of the body. There are also several other combinations of substances and qualities, and the doshas combine with these to produce different aspects of the body like breathing, digestion, growth etc. Imbalances result in illness.
Nasal Polyps Overview
Nasal polyps are fleshy, non-cancerous, transparent growths that occur inside the nasal cavity and along the sinuses. By themselves, they are harmless. But if they increase in size and number, they can block the irrigation pathways of the nasal cavity, cause severe headaches, breathing difficulties, sleep problems, snoring, etc. They may also affect vision and sense of smell. Another issue is that there is no real known cause in conventional medical science, hence treatments are mainly symptomatic.
Some of the triggering factors could be
- Frequent allergies
- Frequent nasal infections
- Colds and coughs
- Aspirin allergy
- Pressure on the mucosal walls
- Changes in body composition
- Lack of exercise
- Faulty food habits
Ayurveda Approach to Nasal Polyps
Since allopathy does not have clear solutions to the problem, sufferers have turned to alternative, traditional and holistic healing systems with great benefits. In Ayurveda, nasal polyps are referred to as “kapha rakta granthi” or an imbalance in the kapha (phlegmatic) dosha system. Consequently, treatments concentrate on restoring its balance.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Nasal Polyps
Nasyam Treatment: This is essentially a treatment meant for any problems in the head region. Medicated oils and powders are administered through the nostrils. It helps to remove toxins from the head and neck region, stimulates the mucosal membrane inside the nostrils, removes the obstructions to the optimum flow of kapha element, thereby restoring the balance of this element. Nasyam treatment stimulates the para-nasal sinuses and releases the kapha toxin build-up.
Three types of nasyam treatment are available:
- Virechana: Irrigation with medicated oils, ghee or herbal decoctions.
- Dhamana: Filling the nostrils with medicated powders, herbs etc to unblock the passages and nourish the tissues.
- Shamana: Warm oil is allowed to flow through the nostrils and the face, neck and head are gently massaged. This helps to clear the passages and these regions are strengthened.
Apart from this specific therapy, there are several other types of treatments, including regular infusion of warm Anu Tailam (specific oil for nasyam treatments) to prevent any blockage in the ear, nose and throat region.
Nasyam treatments should be done under strict supervision of a qualified, experienced Ayurvedic physician. If there is bleeding in the nasal polyps, nasyam treatments should be completely avoided. In such cases, direct application of oils and powders on the polyps is to be done with the help of cotton buds.
Life-style management and Ayurvedic treatment for Nasal Polyps
Being a holistic approach, mere symptomatic treatment is insufficient in Ayurveda. Hence, there are several measures recommended to balance the kapha element.
- Drinking organic kapha teas
- Adding kapha churna to food
- Aromatherapy with kapha diffusing oils
- Regular, vigorous exercise for short periods daily
- Avoid cold temperature/climate
- Fresh fruit, vegetables and pulses
- Pungent, bitter and astringent foods
- Light, dry, warm food
- Reduction of cold, oily, salty or over-sweet foods
- Keep regular hours for sleeping/waking
What to avoid in Kapha Imbalance Constitutions
- Heavy fruits especially bananas, oranges, figs, pineapples, dates, avocados, coconut and melons
- Wheat, rice, barley, millet
- Tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, zucchini
- Soya beans/Tofu
- Full cream milk
- Excessive salt
These items can be substituted with lighter fruits like apples, pears etc. honey instead of sugar, low-fat dairy, turmeric/ginger added to warm milk to be drunk at night.
Additional Ayurvedic treatments for nasal polyps
These include inserting medicated Varti (suppositories) into the nasal-cavity, breathing exercises, nasal irrigation, diluted cayenne-pepper sprays, inhalation of golden-seal and other herbs/spices to increase immunity and boost resistance to allergens. Yoga, meditation and a sattvic diet are to be followed to sustain the beneficial effects of any treatment.
Ensure that you select a reputed, well-established, knowledgeable physician for Ayurvedic treatment for nasal polyps. Follow all instructions consistently and carefully, especially food and life-style changes.