Cleansing our nasal passages with a salt water solution is something practiced daily by many people worldwide. It is becoming more popular in Western cultures as an effective home remedy. The practice clears the sinuses of pollen, pollutants, dust, mucus, and bacteria. This enables us to breathe better and to keep allergies and sinus infections in check.
There are sophisticated machines and pumps that you can use to cleanse nasal passages. These are rather costly. A simple and more affordable way to cleanse is using a neti pot. A neti pot is a small vessel that resembles a pitcher with a handle at one end, a spout at the other, and a hole for filling with water and salt in the centre.
How to Use a Neti Pot
What you will need:
- Ceramic neti pot
- 1 cup of warm purified water
- ¼ tsp of fine Himalayan salt
You will want to use filtered or distilled water. The water needs to be warm. You can boil the water and let it cool, or you can warm it up in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Some say it is ok to use warm tap water. I would only do that if you are sure your water is from a clean source with no bacteria in it.
Place the salt in the bottom of the neti pot and pour the water over it to fill the pot almost to the top. Most neti pots hold approximately 8 to 16 ounces of water. Let the salt water cool until it is the same as your body temperature. You can test it on the inside of your wrist. At this point, you can also add natural antibacterial agents, such as a drop of oil of oregano or a drop of colloidal silver. These would be beneficial if have an active sinus infection, though it is not necessary.
Once the water is a comfortable temperature (not too cool), you will bend forward over your sink and tilt your head to one side so that one nostril is higher than the other. Holding the handle, place the spout of the pot gently, but tightly, against the higher nostril and allow the water to flow from the upper nostril and out through the lower nostril, releasing 1/2 of the water. This may take some practice so as not to have the salt water trickle down into your throat. Repeat with the other nostril. This only takes a couple of minutes to do. Lightly blow your nose between and after each nasal passage cleansing to get any excess water and debris out. You can do this first thing in the morning and again before bed. You might consider using your neti pot during your morning shower to avoid any messy spills.
Clean your neti pot often. You can wash it with hot soapy water and rinse it well. Allow the pot to air dry. Alternatively, you can run your neti pot through the dishwasher.
Benefits of Nasal Cleansing
Nasal cleansing with saline water has long been used by yoga practitioners as a way to clear the sinuses, enabling better breathing while practicing. Yoga poses and postures are synchronized with the inhalation and exhalation of the breath.
Cleansing has the added benefit of naturally removing excess mucus, allergens, and bacteria from the sinuses. This can keep us breathing freely and lessen our chances of getting a sinus infection from bacteria that is lodged in the mucus membranes.
Regular irrigation or cleansing of the nasal passages is helpful for these conditions:
- Chronic sinusitis
- Seasonal allergies
- Rhinovirus or the common cold
- Sinus pressure with associated headaches and toothaches
- Post nasal drip and associated sore throat
- Dry sinuses due to indoor heating systems
- Bad breath
- Sleeping difficulty
Nasal irrigation is safe and without harmful side effects. It can effectively eliminate the need for allergy medications, prescription nasal sprays, corticosteroids, and antibiotics. Of course, always consult with a medical professional if your symptoms do not improve. It is not recommended that irrigation be performed several times a day or for extended periods of time. Our bodies, including our nasal passages, need exposure to common irritants to help build natural immunity.
Types of Neti Pots
There are three popular types of neti pots: plastic, metal, and ceramic. All three have pros and cons.
Plastic pots are lightweight and favored among people who travel frequently. They can easily be stashed in a suitcase or a carry-on bag without the worry that they will be crushed. The drawback to plastic is that the material will break down over time from exposure to the salt. Plastic may also emit an unpleasant odor. You will likely need to replace your plastic neti pot every year, if used frequently. If you want to use a plastic neti pot, be sure it is made of BPA free materials to help protect yourself and the environment.
Metal pots are generally made of either copper or stainless steel. Copper is handsome, but it will tarnish and requires maintenance to keep it looking awesome. Copper can impart an unpleasant metallic taste. If you decide to purchase a copper neti pot, make sure the soldered seams are lead free. Stainless steel pots are real workhorses, if they are pure stainless steel. They don’t require maintenance, other than cleaning. They are sturdy. Pure stainless steel does not rust or tarnish.
All metal pots are prone to damage if dropped. They are also quite expensive, assuming they are the pure metals that they claim to be. It is quite common to find neti pots labeled as copper or stainless steel that are actually other metals coated in copper or stainless steel. These hybrids will corrode and possibly rust. Rust is not something you want in your irrigation water. It is recommended that you thoroughly research metal pots before purchasing.
Ceramic net pots come in various shapes and sizes, and are often artistically unique. Glazed ceramic is easy to keep clean and is comfortable up against your nostrils. Ceramic is unlikely to deteriorate from exposure to salt. A ceramic neti pot will last a long time. Small pots will travel well if wrapped within clothing or in protective bubble wrap. The only drawback to a ceramic pot is that it can break if dropped on a hard surface. A ceramic neti pot is a hygienic, affordable, and decorative option for your nasal cleansing.