Guided Imagery and Sinusitis?

Guided Imagery can help manage chronic disease: Those who know me, know that I am a voracious reader. Over the average year, I read at least one new book per week. It helps tremendously that I am a fast reader, or I simply would not have the time. And I suppose that it helps to be awakened early every morning by back pain. At least, it helps me read more books. And I would miss it terribly if I were not able to explore all those new ideas, all those new perspectives every week.

Most of the books I read have nothing to do with medicine, and nothing to do with rhinitis, sinusitis, or any other area of pediatric ENT. A few of those books simply satisfy my voyeuristic curiosity about some celebrity, past or present – like the new biography on Steve Jobs, or anything on the Kennedy dynasty, as examples. Many of those books have to do with business theory, since I generally feel unprepared for what is happening in medicine these days. All those years of ‘larnin’ did not provide any preparation on the business side of medicine, just on the biology side of things. These days, however, small-town medicine is being replaced by “corporate” medicine, and it’s all about business. Those hospitals that ignore the business realities of corporate medicine quickly disappear. So, I continue to further my business education by reading.

Most of the books I read over the span of a year focus on my hobby interests like photography, or technology as applied to social media. I am convinced that, as our social interactions transition more into the digital world, patients and physicians will better connect in that world. Whenever I visit MY doctor’s office, I never get all of my questions answered. Not due to lack of interest by the doctor, simply as a result of my forgetting to ask. There is usually a lot of new information to absorb, and that can distract me from my intended questions. The ability to continue that conversation with the doctor later, beyond the exit door of the clinic, is a huge relief. Now I know that I will continue to have access to my doctor to answer those questions that I forgot to ask in clinic.

This is how I connect with my own patients and their families: through social networks, in the digital world. After all, that is where my patients “live” these days. All that to say, much of my reading is about how to better connect in the digital world. It is also the subject of much of my own writing these days, as I write for some medicine-business blogs.

In addition to all those non-medical books, I have read a few that ARE about medicine, about rhinitis or sinusitis or asthma.

One recent book in particular stands out:

“Free Yourself From Sinus and Allergy Problems Permanently,” by Dr. Murray Grossan.

This book has been sitting on my desk for 6 months or so, but I finally got to it last week. I am impressed by Dr. Grossan’s “outside the box” approach, especially for a mainstream, MD sort of physician. For example, I must have over a dozen books on rhinitis and sinusitis, but I cannot think of another one that introduces the notion of guided imagery for your tool-box against sinusitis. I am a huge fan of guided imagery, and I offer you an excerpt of Dr. Grossan’s book, with his permission, here in its entirety:

“Guided Visualization to Help a Sinus Problem

It’s not entirely practical that you take a two-week vacation to Hawaii, to lie in the sun and reduce your stress. You can get similar benefits by guided visualization. You can create an image, in your mind, of a quiet pleasant scene, and your body responds by producing the enzymes and chemicals that promote healing.

You must employ every one of your five senses for full benefit:

See the sights of the pleasant scene

Hear the sounds of the pleasant scene

Touch objects in the pleasant scene

Smell good smells in the pleasant scene

Taste good things in the pleasant scene

For example: Imagine – create an image in your mind – of a pleasant time when you didn’t have sinus problems.

You are drifting down a stream. Feel the sun, feel what you are sitting on, taste the chewing gum in your mouth, smell the fresh flowers in the air, hear the current of water lapping on the boat. Touch the railing; touch the rudder as you steer the boat. Feel the speed of the boat and its turns. See the water flowing past the boat. Try to enjoy each sensation. Maybe you pluck a flower and taste it.

By doing visualization daily, by employing all the senses, you can engage many of your body’s healing mechanisms. Believe me, not only your blood pressure, but other body chemistries will be different than when you are worrying and stressing and making yourself worse by reinforcing your illness. The more you imagine yourself before the illness, the more chance you will recreate the health factors that were present then.

In another useful visualization, you can visualize going into a temple of healing (or a $1000-a-day fancy spa). See yourself inside the temple, feel the warm robes you’re dressed in, smell the pleasant aromas, hear the music, and taste healing waters and foods.

Pick an experience that was very positive for you: a high-school dance, driving your first car, doing your first solo experience, your pleasure when you glided downhill on your bike. Often your body wll respond like it did before you had any illness. “

Perhaps that all sounds a bit hokey? I can hear your eyes rolling. I can hear you thinking, “How can imagining myself on the beach help my sinusitis?”

Well, there are some interesting clinical trials and scientific studies that have asked exactly that question. Some have found that guided imagery can significantly alter important body chemistry, can significantly alter our immune systems. Specifically, these techniques described by Dr. Grossan, have been found to consistently elevate both serum and secretory immunoglobulin-A (IgA).

Guess what IgA does – that’s right: IgA is the portion of our immune system that helps prevent micro-organisms from entering our respiratory tract. That is, it helps us fight off sinusitis, among other infections. Don’t believe it? Simply do a Google Scholar search to review the data.

Tune in next time when I will explore what we know about guided imagery for children. In the meantime, check our Dr. Grossan’s book. It is worth a read!

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Transparency: The link to Dr. Grossan’s book is to the boogordoctor’s Amazon Store, as an Amazon.com affiliate. That means, if you were to purchase that book on that link, or any of the other products that I endorse on Amazon, a few pennies go toward supporting this site. If you don’t want to do that, no worries, but DO check out the products and books – some great stuff.

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Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog.

Russell Faust, PhD, MD boogordoctor

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Comments

  1. Do you believe there is a connection to milk making asthma worst ?

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Daniela,
      Great question. Complicated answer. Please take a look at an article that I wrote for a wonderful blog, http://www.littlestomaks.com, at this link: http://www.littlestomaks.com/2010/09/do-milk-allegies-cause-ear-infections/
      In that post I talk about how milk may be related to ear infections. The link is indirect, and is related to how milk can be related to asthma exacerbation. The link is indirect, and based on inflammation. Please also take a look at the articles on this blog on the topic of the “Unified Airway” model. These will answer your question better than I can in a short answer. And thanks for visiting!
      RF

  2. My 3 year old seems to get recurring sinus infections, which almost always leads to conjunctivitis in her right eye. We have had to use several courses of oral antibiotics. We have been using the Little noses saline drops, do these count as a saline rinse? Would it be better to use the xyletol or manuka honey as well?

    Thanks,
    John

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi John,
      No, drops or sprays aren’t really the same as rinsing. Take a look at some of the videos on http://www.Nasopure.com to get a sense of nasal rinsing is all about. By the way, that system – Nasopure – is the one that I personally use, and recommend for my patients. (Transparency: I have NO financial relationship with Nasopure.com). Be sure to check out the video on that site showing a cute 3-year-old girl doing nasal saline rinses!
      RF

  3. Dr. Faust,

    My seven year old son has had nasal congestion for most of the summer. It eventually started to affect his hearing and now he does not hear when spoken to with a normal speaking voice. We noticed his congestion was worse when he consumed dairy (cheese, butter, goat milk and Greek yogurt). I read your article about milk allergies and ear infections and it sounds like it could very well be the cause. He also swam quite a bit this summer in a chlorinated pool and I also read in your article that Chlorine can be an allergen and contribute to COME. We have eliminated dairy and started a steam breathing protocol (with essential oils or chamomile tea). We were also given a homeopathic remedy (dulcamora 200c) that he takes once per day. He does not have pain or fever and has no signs of fluid or wax.
    My question is what else should we be doing? Will the fluid drain or do we need to see an ENT doc? We would love a recommendation if you know a good pediatric ENT in Oakland County.
    Thank You!!

    • Russell A. Faust, PhD, MD says:

      Hi Adam,
      Sounds familiar.
      I was able to keep the majority of my pediatric patients with chronic otitis media with effusion (COME) out of the operating room and without ear tubes using only a couple simple tricks:
      First, daily probiotic. Probiotics help maintain a health “microbiome.” Our microbiome is the collection of microbes, or microorganisms, that naturally live in us. We depend on them, and vice versa. A healthy collection of the proper microbes can be easily thrown out of balance, and a daily pediatric probiotic can help reduce the number of ear infections (other infections, too).
      Next, Xylitol. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring 5-carbon sugar, found in the bark of some trees, some flowers, etc. It is not metabolized by most bacteria, and in fact is toxic to many pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. The best way to administer Xylitol is to add it to saline nasal spray: I used the XLEAR brand of saline-xylitol spray. Here is the one we use for our own kids (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Xlear-Sinus-Care-Nasal-Spray/dp/B001A3BLC2/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1440523745&sr=8-5&keywords=xlear+nasal+spray The xylitol, being a sugar, is pretty sweet, which helps kids tolerate using the spray a few times per day.
      The only other thing you might consider is to have your son “pneumatize” his ears twice per day: hold his nose shut and blow air up the eustachian tubes until he hears his ears “pop.” That helps clear the vacuum from the middle ear space – it’s that vacuum that draws fluid into the middle ear, and then that fluid gets infected. That fluid also accounts for temporary hearing loss. Temporary, as long as the fluid is present he hears like he’s under water.

      We went through this with both our boys. Our 9-year-old still needs to clear his ears a couple times per day to keep his hearing up. And they’re still on daily probiotic.
      Best success, and please let me know how things go.

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