Imagine you go to the doctor with an ache in your hand. She takes your temperature and pokes your hand, asking, “Does it hurt here? How about here?” Then she scrawls some notes on her forms. She reaches into the cupboard and pulls out a small blackboard. Handing it to you, she says, “Scrape your fingernails down this once a day, and your hand will feel all better.”
You might think, “Ugh, fingernails on a blackboard!” But you’d also probably think, “Great! No costly medications! And no chemical side effects!”
That’s how I feel about using my neti pot. Probably due to a cruel older sister who held me under water at the beach in the summer, I can’t quite get comfortable with the feeling of salt water flowing through my nasal cavities. But relative to lying in bed unable to breath freely, it’s an easy, cheap, all-natural cure.
For those new to netis, a neti pot is used for “nasal irrigation,” a personal hygiene practice in which the nasal cavity is washed to flush out excess mucus and debris while moistening the mucus membranes of the nose and sinuses. It has been practiced in India for centuries as one of the disciplines of yoga.
The key to using a neti pot is accurate measuring. Fresh water or too-salty water will cause a burning sensation in your nose. If you measure fairly well, though, you won’t feel a thing. Also, be sure to use distilled or filtered water and non-iodized salt! The recipe is 8 oz warm water, ¼ tsp salt. I usually mix up just half of this, using a shot glass (2 oz) to measure the water. I stir with my finger to make sure the salt is dissolved and to test the water temperature.
If you need aid visualizing this, videos abound on YouTube. “Neti Pot How-To” is kind of long, with nice background music. This video is from a neti pot company. Other videos have dubious titles like “Gavin and Jason Flush Their Noses!” and “Neti Pot Challenge.”
Using a neti pot can feel weird at first, but after you’ve done it, your sinuses will be clearer. And when pollen starts to tickle your nose, using a neti pot each night can help control allergic reactions by whisking the pollen out. A neti pot is environmentally friendly: since it requires only salt water, there are no bottles to throw out or medicines entering the water supply. It’s a low cost way to take care of your sinuses when they’re under assault.