An Ancient Solution to Current Sinus Problems – Neti Pot for Nasal Irrigation
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, hay fever or chronic sinusitis, the practice of nasal irrigation using a neti pot is an easy to use and effective tool in getting relief. Stemming from the ancient Ayurvedic tradition, nasal irrigation or "jala neti" has been used since ancient times to help gently flush away irritants that cause allergy symptoms and sinus infections.
The intent of nasal irrigation, which is usually comprised of natural saline solution, is to reduce or eliminate the recurrent irritant so your body can be given a chance to heal itself. Oftentimes antihistamines, antibiotics or even surgical interventions are used to treat these conditions but do little to address their root causes, nor their recurrence.
Aside from allergy of sinus related issues, nasal irrigation through the use of a neti pot can also be used for normal routine cleaning.
Routine practice of nasal irrigation has been imbedded in yogic cleaning rituals for centuries, and practitioners use a neti pot (a smaller tea pot like form) to pour lightly salted warm water into one nostril and then let it run out of the other. Some will also forcefully exhale the water to further cleanse their nasal passages.
This practice proved to be beneficial, as one study of those using daily saltwater nasal irrigation showed it helped to protect against the common cold or flu.
Why Should We Use Salt for Our Sinuses?
Salt, in a natural form, has several therapeutic benefits when inhaled or used as a soak. Not only are brine baths, which you can make at home by adding a large amount of natural, high-quality salt like Himalayan salt to your bathwater, a great way to revitalize your body, but salt rooms are also growing in popularity.
These rooms, which are essentially small rooms covered in salt, originated in Eastern Europe but have made their way to the United States, including to my hometown of New York City. Visitors sit in the room to relax and rejuvenate as well as to simply breathe in the salty air. Reports indicate they’re beneficial for everything from asthma to respiratory infections to stress.
Nasal irrigation, however, is likely beneficial not only because of the therapeutic effects of salt, but also due to the physical flushing that helps to eliminate irritants.
In terms of preferred salts in your nasal irrigation, it is recommended to avoid using conventional processed salts and instead use a high-quality sea salt or even better Himalayan Salt.
How to use a neti pot for nasal irrigation
Using a neti pot needs a little practice and getting used to, but once mastered, it is easy to perform the practice daily. To start, you’ll need:
- All-natural Himalayan salt or sea salt
• Filtered or distilled water
• Ergonomic Neti pot
• Towel or washcloth
The technique, outlined below, may seem strange at first, however, once learned, one can quickly realize how beneficial it is for sinus problems:
- Start with a comfortable ergonomically designed neti pot. A neti pot is specially designed with a spout that fits comfortably in one nostril.
2. Fill the pot with lukewarm salt water. The salt-to-water ratio is 1 teaspoon sea salt to 1 pint (2 cups) water. Use filtered or distilled water only.
3. Have some tissues within reach for this next part. Over a sink, tilt your head forward so you are looking directly down toward the sink. Insert the spout into your right nostril. It is important that you breathe through your mouth. Turn your head to the right and let water move into the right nostril and exit the left nostril. Normally, you will feel the water as it passes through your sinuses.
It is fine if some of the water drains into your mouth. Simply spit it out and adjust the tilt of your head.
4. After using a cup of water, repeat the above procedure for the other nostril.
5. To finish, expel any remaining water by quickly blowing air out both open nostrils 15 times over the sink. Avoid the temptation to block off one nostril, as doing so may force water into your eustachian tube.
It is important to follow all the instructions very carefully and continue the routine until all your symptoms resolve. This may take three to six months in the case of a chronic infection, so be patient. For acute problems like seasonal allergies, perform the nasal wash up to four times per day until your symptoms improve.
For chronic problems like sinus infections, it is usual to do the wash one or more times daily and continue for several months.
How to properly clean your neti pot
Using antibacterial soap and warm water (distilled or boiled water so it's safe), thoroughly hand clean your neti pot making sure to dislodge any lingering salt or dust that might have accrued.
It is important to let your neti pot air dry after cleaning.
You should also clean your neti pot after each use and never share your pot with anyone else.