Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Neti Pot Relief

I first learned about the neti pot while watching Dr. Mehmet Oz on Oprah one night. I've been told by a doctor maybe 12 years ago that surfers don't suffer from hay fever. They have so much salt water in their nasal cavities that their noses are clear and the inflammation is lessened. I'm not sure how true that is, but this doctor (before saline nose sprays or drops were commonly seen in stores) advised me to put a bit of salt into some water in a dropper, then use it like nose drops. I tried it many times and it didn't seem to do much for me. I later tried some saline spray (with some Ocean name). It didn't make a dent in my allergies either.

When I saw Dr. Oz talk about the neti pot, that intrigued me. It made more sense to have the salt water rinse through your nasal passage instead of just drip in and stay there. When it washes through, it's actually cleaning out the pollen and mucous that is causing problems or discomfort. I've never had sinus problems, but my husband has a lot of sinus infections. He's been using the neti pot whenever he gets congested to prevent sinus infections and has found great relief from it. I've loved what it does for my allergies.

Now for the video -- the whole process isn't the prettiest thing to watch. And it feels strange to do the first few times you do it (especially the first time). If the water is too cold, you will know it and you will hate it. Just dump it out and fill it with lukewarm water. If the water is too warm, it's no fun either. But if you fill it with lukewarm water and put just shy of 1/4 t. of salt in it (non-iodized if you're an iodized salt person -- I'm not.

I use sea salt, although I've read not to because it burns -- I'd rather use a more natural salt and just have to use a little less instead of the heaping 1/4. teaspoon that this video requests). If you're not used to the saltiness of the water, it may burn a bit or feel uncomfortable. But if you have enough water in your neti pot and don't have over 1/4 t. of salt, it should be fine. Sometimes it burns a bit for me at first, but feels fine later on. Anyway, watch it to get an idea of how it works. If your nose is clogged, the water won't go through at first, but just keep working at it and is usually will by the end.

One thing I do that the video doesn't show is brace my head to the side with the arm not holding the neti pot. So if I'm putting the salt water in my right nostril, I'll use my right hand to pour the water and will rest my left elbow on the left edge of the sink, bracing my head (at my ear) in my left hand. This helps me to keep my head stable and to not worry that I'm not tilting my head right or something.

The first time I did it, I thought "am I drowning?" for the first second, but could see really quickly that I was just fine. Sometimes a little drips into the throat, but usually afterward. What's really fun is when hours later you inhale and can taste or sense the salt water in your throat and even up near your ears (which allergy sufferers know become itchy, so that's a nice relief there too).

The video shows that she inhales the last of the water at the end. I do that too and it feels great. But I sometimes have to blow my nose at the end, sometimes even in the middle of it. Sometimes it makes me sneeze. I just go with whatever is happening and then continue on until the water is gone.

I even used the neti pot after my ear infection to help reduce the swelling of my ears from the inside. If I hadn't been so sick before that, I probably would have used it at the early signs of the ear infection too.

On our way home from our vacation this weekend, I started feeling allergy symptoms (not sure if it was from the smog or some dog hair I was exposed to). I knew I had to get a handle on it before it became out of control. One day of suffering was all I wanted. So when I got home Sunday night, I used the neti pot. By the time I went to bed, I felt a little less agitated. By the time I woke up, my nose was no longer running and my other allergy symptoms were gone too. I'm feeling great!

I recommend it to everyone who tells me of nasal related problems. Not everyone is eager to try it, but for under $15, it's a bargain and a lifesaver. You can buy them at any health food store, online, or I've heard even at Wal-Mart (we don't have a Wal-Mart, so I can't verify that one). They come in different sizes and shapes, but mine is just like the picture at the top, is ceramic, and sits on the window sill above my kitchen sink. I don't use mine every day like Dr. Oz suggests -- just when I'm having problems. That seems to work for me.


  1. Welcome back Renee! I have missed your postings.

    I used a neti pot for my first time just a couple of months ago. I've actually owned one for years, but always found excuses not to use it. I ended up getting a cold with congestion so I decided to try it. It did feel really weird, but really clean me out. My cold only lasted about two days so I think the neti pot may have helped my cold go away quickly...that and lots of vitamin C and green smoothies of course.

    I have a friend that swears by steeping crushed fresh garlic in the warm water with the salt, then staining out the garlic and using the garlic/salt water in the neti pot. Garlic has natural antibiotic properties so it wouldn't surprise me if it works well. It just seems to me that you would be smelling garlic for hours after using it.


  2. Hi Evonne -- that sounds interesting about the garlic. I used to juice with it to ward off colds and it did the trick. I wonder if it has anti-inflammatory properties like salt.

  3. When I lived in the DC/Metro area I had chronic sinus infections. Using a Neti pot was the only thing that helped.
    They are awesome.

  4. Nice post. I just tried nasal irrigation as I have what seems like a sinus infection. Although I used a child's (needleless!) medicine syringe instead of a neti pot, as I haven't got one yet. Another site I read recommended the medicine syringe.

    Well the water went in fine, but it didn't come out again! Where did it go? It didn't go down my throat from what I can tell or out of either nostril...

    I suspect that I didn't use enough water, as the syringe only holds 5 ml. I know you might not be able to help as this is a rather strange quandary to be in, but just wondered if you had any ideas?!? Thanks :)