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Sinusitis Treatment Story

This is the story of my family's successful Sinusitis Treatment using an all natural, easy home remedy.

[2023 UPDATE: Originally posted Dec. 6, 2013. Since then we have been cured of chronic sinusitis and off antibiotics for over 10 years. We still successfully use Lanto Sinus if sinusitis symptoms develop. [See Best Probiotics For Sinusitis for product information, Sinusitis Treatment Summary for methods, and Our Sinus Microbes - the sinus microbiome.]

During the 2012-2013 winter my family was struggling with chronic sinusitis that no longer responded well to antibiotics. My oldest child had just been told to get another CAT scan and to prepare for ENT surgery to "open up the sinuses more". We were desperate for something that would help us that didn't involve antibiotics or surgery.

BACKGROUND: This story started many years ago when we (husband, myself, 2 children) moved into a house with an incorrectly installed central air conditioning system. We all developed mold allergies and repeated bouts of acute sinusitis, which then led to chronic sinusitis. Eventually we discovered the problem, ripped out and replaced the air conditioning system and all duct work, but by then the damage was done. Even though antibiotics helped acute sinusitis symptoms which occurred after every cold and sore throat, we always felt like we had chronic sinusitis.

Over the years we tried everything we could think of, including antibiotics, decongestants, allergy pills, nasal sprays, saline rinses, vitamins, special diets, steam inhalation, and even balloon sinuplasties. Nothing really worked.

THE RESEARCH:  Then I read with great interest all the latest research about  how all of us have hundreds of species of bacteria, fungi, viruses (our microbiome), and how they may play a role in our health.  In fact, we are more microbes than cells!

Especially exciting was a small study published in September 2012 which looked at 20 patients about to undergo nasal surgery - 10 healthy patients (the controls) and 10 chronic rhinosinusitis (sinusitis) patients. The researchers found that the chronic rhinosinusitis sufferers had reduced bacterial diversity in their sinuses, depletion of the bacteria Lactobacillus sakei, and an increase in other bacteria. They then did a second study in mice which found that Lactobacillus sakei bacteria protected against sinusitis.

What to do?  

THE EXPERIMENT:  I looked for a natural source of Lactobacillus sakei  (or L.sakei) and decided on kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable product made with cabbage. According to studies done in Korea, many (but not all) brands of traditionally made kimchi contain L. sakei (as well as many other species of bacteria) during fermentation. I decided to try all natural kimchi made with cabbage, without any additives or preservatives, and no fish or seafood in it (personal preference). The kimchi had to be refrigerated, and could not be pasteurized.  

In February of 2013 I was feeling sicker (with sinusitis) each day. I started the Sinusitis Experiment by buying several brands of cabbage kimchi (all natural, vegan). Over the next 2 weeks I tried two brands, one after another. Not only did I eat a little bit every day, but I also smeared a little bit of the kimchi juice in my nose, going up about 1/2" in each nostril - as if I were an extremely messy eater. I did this once or twice a day initially. And yes, I was nervous about what I was doing for this was absolutely NOT medically approved. Obviously I did not discuss this with any doctor.

What microbes are in the kimchi? Even in kimchi containing L. sakei , there are many other species of bacteria. Studies said that the bacteria in kimchi varied depending on kimchi ingredients (and each brand was different), length of fermentation, and temperature of fermentation. L.sakei is found in meat, seafood, and vegetables, but I was nervous about other microbes found in seafood (which is why I tried vegan kimchi only).

The labels on the kimchi I purchased said it was a "live product"(fermentation). When I opened the jars sometimes the liquid inside was bubbling and sometimes even overflowed down the sides of the jar. It takes a leap of faith to put a bubbling, strong smelling liquid in the nose!

RESULTS: By the end of the week I found that the one brand worked and it truly felt like a miracle! Within 24 hours of first applying it I was feeling better, and day by day my sinusitis improved. All the problematic sinusitis symptoms (yellow mucus, constant sore throat from postnasal drip, aching teeth, etc.) slowly went away and within about 2 to 3 weeks I felt great - the sinusitis was totally gone.

After a few weeks the rest of the family followed, one by one, in the Sinusitis Experiment. All improved to the point of feeling great (healthy) and have been off all antibiotics since then. All four of us feel we no longer have chronic sinusitis. We are very, very pleased with the results.

Please note: everyone in my family is over 21 years of age - thus consenting adults. And yes, we all knew this was an experiment with unknown results.


KIMCHI TREATMENT METHOD: 1) Wash hands. Use a clean teaspoon to put a little juice from the kimchi jar into a small clean bowl. 2) Dip finger in the kimchi juice and dab or smear it along the insides of one nostril (about 1/2" into the nostril). 3) Dip finger in kimchi juice again and repeat in other nostril. 4) Do this several times. Try not to blow the nose for at least half an hour. 5) Throw out any unused kimchi in the little bowl, and do not replace in the main kimchi jar. (Note: Put the main kimchi jar back in the refrigerator. Also, once opened, take kimchi juice from it for no more than 6 days.)

My rationale was that I was inhaling the bacteria this way and that it would travel up the nasal passages on their own to my sinuses. I did this regimen once or twice a day initially until I started feeling better.

Interestingly, the spices in the kimchi seem to also have a temporary decongestant effect after we apply the juice to our nostrils.


MAINTENANCE: After I felt better, I cut back on my kimchi juice applications to about once every few days, and then once a week, and then only as needed. We experimented with how frequently we should apply kimchi juice when feeling well and learned to only use it when needed.

We all still have allergies so we take antihistamines as needed. The interesting part is that we actually feel healthier and more resistant to illnesses since starting the kimchi regimen.

Were there any setbacks? Family members have had several colds over the past year (which yes, resulted in full blown sinusitis symptoms again). The sick person increased the kimchi juice regimen to every other day or daily until feeling better, and then gradually reduced frequency until back to normal. And yes, each time it has worked successfully (without antibiotics). Please note: If it had become necessary, we would not have hesitated to go to the doctor for medical treatment and antibiotics.

There are times when I again see some yellow (in the mucus) when I blow my nose, but then eventually it would improve again on its own.  I would only use kimchi juice if I felt I needed to - if I felt I was sliding downward to sinusitis. 

WERE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?  What, other than feeling great?  There were no negative or any other side effects that we know of. The first month I had a minor headache 2 or 3 times, but I don't know if it had anything to do with the kimchi.

HOW DO I KNOW THERE IS Lactobacillus sakei IN THE KIMCHI? Studies (typically done in Korea) found that over the course of fermentation the bacteria populations in kimchi are changing - both in types of bacteria and proportions of each bacteria. At least two studies found that L. sakei was not present in early fermentation (the first few days), but appeared after fermentation had progressed for a while (in one study starting at about 12 to 14 days).

After about a month of fermentation some studies found L. sakei amounts drop.  The one consistency among studies that I looked at was that there was variation in results. One study found that out of 5 commercial brands tested, only three contained L. sakei and even among those the proportion of L. sakei varied.

Based on our experiences using one specific locally available commercial kimchi product (Sunja's kimchi), it seems that beneficial L. sakei bacteria are in kimchi that has fermented at least 2 weeks and up to at least 8 weeks. Thus we do not open any kimchi jars for the first 2 weeks after the kimchi is packed into jars, so as to allow at least 2 weeks of fermentation to take place.

Based on our experiences, we don't use the kimchi juice from an opened jar for more than 6 days after opening, because we noticed that L. sakei numbers have dropped too much by then.  We also noticed that some batches of kimchi somehow seemed more potent or beneficial. 

It was very simple: If the kimchi contained too little or no L. sakei, then we felt the same or "more mucusy" the next day. If it had L. sakei, then we felt better the next day. If we were already feeling good, then a "good batch" of kimchi juice seemed to make no difference in how we felt (we felt good before, and we felt good after).

What other microorganisms are in the kimchi?  Studies say that the microbial community varies depending on when the kimchi jar is first opened and the fermentation interrupted. I looked over the bacteria lists from some of the published kimchi fermentation studies (done in Korea in the past decade) and did not find any that raised a red flag. Research found several types of Lactobacillus bacteria in kimchi, and Lactobacillus bacteria are generally viewed as beneficial.

WHAT ELSE ARE WE DOING FOR SINUS HEALTH? After reading all the latest research suggesting that a number of diseases may be linked to our microbiome being out of whack (dysbiosis), and how research is now exploding whether adding "missing" bacteria can improve health, we have all made a major effort to feed and nurture our bacteria.

We eat as many unprocessed natural foods as possible. 

Eating kimchi did not have any sinus treating effect, even though it was surely good for our overall health. 

As in years past, we tried to avoid mass-produced highly processed foods, fast-foods, preservatives, additives, partially hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and titanium dioxide (nanoparticles). Avoid as much as possible "natural flavors" (What chemicals are being added? And why are they necessary?)

The rest of life stayed the same, other than if felt great to feel healthy and not be sick with sinusitis. Totally fantastic!

WHAT'S NEXT? There are so many possible research areas with important questions - for example, can a person's sinus microbiome ever fully recover after years of antibiotic treatments and constant sinusitis? What will many courses of antibiotics do to the sinus biome and how long will it take to recover? What about "snot transplants"?

As I've been saying on Lacto Bacto, microbiome research and treatments for diseases is the exciting future. A whole paradigm shift in how we view health and the microorganisms within us.

Originally posted December 6, 2013


Latest update (June 16, 2023): Ten Plus Years of Successfully Treating Sinus Infections With Probiotics

Latest SUMMARY OF MY FINDINGS for sinusitis treatment, L. sakei products and brands, other treatment possibilities: Best Probiotics For Sinusitis.

Our Sinus Microbes - all about the sinus microbiome

Click on the category Sinusitis for posts on sinusitis research.

July 2, 2014 post "Which Kimchi is Best For Sinusitis: Vegan or Seafood?"

See page SINUSITIS TREATMENT SUMMARY for quick summaries of sinusitis treatment methods.




DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor and cannot give medical advice. I am only sharing my family's story.

© Mara Silgailis and Lacto Bacto, 2013-2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mara Silgailis and Lacto Bacto with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

12 thoughts on “Sinusitis Treatment Story

  1. Laurie T

    all bacteria involved in vegetable fermentation are present on the plants to start with.
    they are not spontaneously generated during the process. as the environment changes and
    becomes more acidic, bacterial populations shift. possibly tho, commercial food manufacturers
    use a "starter culture mix" to produce a more standardized and predictable product.
    here is a good article

  2. Sima

    Laurie T: Thanks for the link. The studies which I read mentioned Lactobacillus sakei only being detected after some days of fermentation, but they all said that the amounts of L. sakei varied over the course of fermentation. These studies used gene sequencing to look at the microbial communities, but new technology may be even more accurate.

  3. Laurie T

    Might plain sauerkraut also have adequate amounts of L. sakei ? Without the hot pepper punch?
    L. sakei is listed as one in the long list of bacteria found in kraut.

  4. Bernhard

    Congratulations to your trials and success. Health history here - sinusitis and ear infections have been troubling lots in childhood. Sinusitis from time to time nowadays. We'll try this out, provided we can find reliable sources. Would like to ask you about observations related to breathing quality, for instance influence of healed sinusitis and improved breathing quality in sleep (which of course it will be, but things like snoring?)
    Looking forward to your reply. Kind regards. Peace.

  5. Sima

    Bernhard: As you can imagine, our breathing at all times is better without chronic sinusitis. However, when any of us gets a virus, acute sinusitis develops, which we so far have been able to overcome with the frequent use of (vegan) kimchi.

  6. Carlos Vegaigualada

    As a long chronic sinusitis sufferer, I'd really like to try your procedure. Could you share privately a couple of Kimchi brands you'd recommend to start with?
    Thanks in advance

  7. RMcGinnis

    I would like to know which brand of Kimchi you found effective. Can you tell me privately?

    Thank you,

  8. Russ Bova

    Would you please share with me the brands were most effective for you and your family? I have had 8 surgeries and have suffered from chronic sinusitis for 25 years.

    Thank you for your story.


  9. Sima

    Thank you all for contacting me with your questions both on this page and writing to my email address. I try to answer all those that I can.
    But I would like to know: How has it turned out for you? Has anything helped? Please let me know.

    (UPDATE: I listed various sources of Lactobacillus sakei products and kimchi brands in the frequently updated post The One Probiotic That Treats Sinusitis.)

  10. Sinusitis and Kimchi?

    Do you use nasal steroids such as beconase or nasal antihistamines such as azep as well to reduce the inflammation and control your mold allergies. I have been using sauerkraut juice similar to you describe but have trying to source some kimchi, which has given some benefits in terms of less inflammation and crusting.

    From what I understand Kimchi is fermented at a lower temperature compared to Sauerkraut and has a slightly higher salt concentration, also contains garlic and ginger. Have you considered putting the kimchi juice into a nasal spray and keeping in fridge for ease of use and deeper penetration into sinuses.

    Does the chilli spice in the Kimchi not sting your sinuses? I have some L Sakei starter culture which can be used for natural salami's but may use it to make my own Kimchi by using it as a starter in the batch. Winter here at present so temperatures are cold which should be ideal for Kimchi and L Sakei production at 5-15 deg.

    1. Sima

      We have not used nasal steroids or nasal antihistamines since we started using kimchi treatments - no need for them.
      I would never spray kimchi juice or any other food into my sinuses because of the spices, etc. in it. Just dabbing kimchi (juice) in my nostrils works great.
      Studies show sauerkraut has far less Lactobacillus sakei (if at all) than kimchi.

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