In the winter it’s cold season. In the spring and fall, it’s allergy time. I’ve started hearing complaints from those who suffer from seasonal allergies. The pressure, the pain, the stuffy noses, and the post-nasal drip are building and making many of us suffer the agony. Often, carrying around a wad of tissues and feeling like your head would feel better if it just exploded.
Medication may take the edge off. There’s also a natural way to clean out the crusty mucus and make your nasal defense system work better. Nasal irrigation. It comes in several forms including mists that squirt or a liquid that squirts or is poured. This article will focus on the neti pot; a tea-pot/magic lamp-type device used to pour saline solution in one nostril. The saline solution flows up through your nasal passage and sinuses and out of the other nostril.
Why Does It Work?
This ancient Ayurvedic technique has been scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies, as well as sinus infections and the common cold. The solution helps to un-stick extra thick, crusty mucus which helps the small cilia – which move mucus through your nasal passages – to move faster and in a more coordinated, i.e. more efficient, way. This movement of mucus is a major defense mechanism to keep bacteria out of your bloodstream, keeping you healthier.
How to Use a Neti Pot
- Mix a solution of warm or room temperature distilled, sterile, or pre-boiled water (see safety information below), and non-iodized sodium chloride (sea salt or kosher salt or a purchased, pre-made mix – I bought a kit with the pot and mix), about 1 tsp salt to 1 pint water. Pour half into the neti pot.
- Stand over a sink with your head dropped forward, keeping your forehead higher than your chin, and tilted so one nostril is slightly higher than the other. Put the spout of the pot against the top nostril so there’s a seal (no water leaking out from the top nostril).
- Slowly start to pour your solution into the top nostril. Breathe through your mouth.
- Pour until all the solution is gone out of the pot. Blow your nose with quick, firm exhales to remove excess solution and any mucus that was loosened.
- Repeat in the other nostril with the second half of the solution.
- Thoroughly clean your neti pot after each use.
- Use daily until symptoms subside, then 3 days/week until completely gone. Overuse can cause irritation.
- If you have any discomfort try altering the angle of your head tip or tilt, the amount of salt in your solution, the temperature of the water, or frequency of use.
There have been some safety concerns regarding nasal rinsing. Taking proper care with your process can minimize these concerns.
- Only use water that is distilled, sterile, or has been boiled for at least 5 minutes (and cooled) to prevent introduction of bacteria or amoebas that can be found in tap water.
- Properly clean your neti pot after each use by rinsing it, washing it by hand or in the dishwasher if safe, and letting it air dry.
- Ask your doctor before using if you have lowered immune function or are prone to nosebleeds.
- Do not over-use; only use when needed. (I use mine at the first sign I’m feeling ill or after being exposed to illness to rinse that bacteria out before it can cause trouble, such as when one of my 4-year-old tumblers wipes their green, gunky, clearly unhealthy snot on me in class.)
Have you tried nasal rinsing? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!