The use of Neti pots started in India by yoga and Ayurvedic practitioners. This method is used for cleansing the nasal passages allowing for clearer breathing. A warm saline solution is put into a small pot with a long spout which is then poured through the nasal cavity while the head is tipped forward. This allows the solution to run out the nostrils, clearing away dust and debris.
About the Neti Pot
The Neti pot is not a new device; its use goes back hundreds of years. It has gained recent popularity here in the United States due to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey touting its effectiveness. While yoga practitioners in this country may use it in their spiritual practice, many people use Neti pots simply to bring relief from allergies or sinus infections.
The use of nasal irrigation can be effective in relieving symptoms associated with allergies. Small hairs, called cilia, act to clear mucus and other irritants out of the nasal cavity. Chronic sinus infections, pollen associated with allergies, dust particles and other debris can lodge within the nose and effect how the cilia operate. Regular nasal irrigation can cleanse cilia, which will decrease the amount of irritants causing problems for the sinuses.
Preparing the Water
Many companies offer premade solutions, sometimes at a hefty price. A homemade solution can be easily made with ingredients you already have in your cupboard.
Pour eight ounces of warm water into the Neti pot. Opinions differ on what type of water to use. Some prefer distilled or purified water. Others will say that using lukewarm water straight out of the tap is fine. If you would like to remove impurities from your tap water, use a water filter or boil it on the stove prior to use.
The important message is to use warm, not hot water once you are ready to use your Neti pot. Hot water can be painful and damaging to the nasal cavity. Heat water to the temperature you would heat a baby's bottle. Test a little on the underside of your forearm to determine if it's too hot.
Using cold water is fine, but it won't feel as good as warm water. If you are trying the Neti pot for the first time, you may want to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Making the Saline Solution
For every eight ounces of water, place ½ teaspoon of salt into the water and mix until it's dissolved. Some people swear by only using kosher, sea salt or non-iodized salt since these salts do not contain additives. Plain table salt generally contains iodine and other agents to prevent the salt from clumping. If you are concerned about the health repercussions of using one salt over the other, or about the effectiveness of Neti pots in general, consult your physician before practicing this technique.
Along with the salt, some suggest that mixing in ¼ teaspoon of baking soda can lessen the severity of the nasal wash and be a little more comforting.