The Neti Pot: Your Sinuses’ Best Friend

Posted on Jul 25, 2012

The Neti Pot: Your Sinuses’ Best Friend

With as common and severe as seasonal allergies can get here in Florida, it is surprising how few people know about the humble neti pot. Originating in India, the neti pot was part of an old yoga tradition called Jala-neti which roughly translates as “to cleanse the nose with water.” There are many different designs, but the basic idea is this little pot helps you pour a saline solution in one side of your nose and let it drain out the other, rinsing out the sinuses and cleaning out any pollen/mucous/cobwebs/etc that may be in there giving you trouble. When  you’re fighting sinus congestion or irritation, the neti pot provides much-needed moisture and relief. 

 

Tips for Using a Neti Pot:

 

Use microbiologically safe water: You should absolutely use water that is either distilled, pre-boiled (and cooled!) or filtered through a 1 micron or less filter (RO water counts unless the membrane is past its expiration date). It is extremely rare, but there were 2 recent deaths from an infection of Naegleria fowleria “brain-eating amoeba.” Both cases were in Louisiana, and both victims used tap water in their neti pots. While regular municipal water treatment should make the tap water perfectly safe for nasal rinses, it is not 100% foolproof, so please make sure to use good water.

Add some salt, but not too much: Too much or too little salt in the rinse solution can cause irritation, just like swimming in the ocean or a pool and getting water in your nose does. With the neti pot, we’re going for a mild salt water solution, normally referred to as saline. Most pots you’ll buy in the drug store will come with little pre-measured packets of non-iodized salt, or you can make your own by mixing approximately 1/4 teaspoon of finely-ground salt or 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt to 8oz of water. Non-iodized salt free of anti-caking agents is important, so sea salt or kosher salt are the best choices.

Warm the water: Room temperature or cool water works just fine, but warming the water up a bit can really help soothe some unhappy sinuses. It should go without saying, but be careful not to use water that is too warm. Burned sinuses generally feel worse than congested ones.

Head to the sink: Generally the best place to use the neti pot is going to be leaning over the sink. Place the spout in one nostril and tilt your head to the opposite side as you lift the pot, letting the water flow through one nostril and out the other into the sink. Pour about half the water through one side, then stop and gently blow your nose, then repeat for the other side.

Rinse and repeat: If you’re suffering from severe allergies, have a sinus infection, are working in dusty environments, have crazy pollen covering everything or just like your neti pot, use it as often as you feel like you need to. Unlike many sinus medications, there are no side effects or overdoses, aside from maybe looking a little funny with a teapot in your nose.

If you’re regularly dealing with sinus problems, or want to prevent them, give a neti pot a try! Neti pots can be found at just about any drug store, and they have a huge selection of them available on Amazon. If you’ve used one, are skeptical about it, or have questions, let us know in the comments below! 

Image courtesy of Hamron.

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3 Comments

  1. I love my Neti! I don’t get sick as often now and whenever I feel like I am I use the Neti 3 or 4 times a day and I don’t get sick! I’ve even avoided taking antibiotics for a sinus infection by using it 3-4x every day for a week or more. For someone with mulitiple allergies and just as many drug allergies it’s a Godsend!

  2. I have the one where you squeeze the water in and I am wanting to try the Neti Pot which gently pours in instead of with force. I just get nervous when picking my water to use with the 2 deaths due to using tap water.

    • It really comes down to personal preference. I have both, and tend to use the neti pot more often. For water, I generally use water from our teapot which was RO water to begin with, and has usually been boiled a few times before I’m grabbing some for the neti. Really, as long as your water has been boiled you don’t have anything to worry about.

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