This past April I began using a Neti pot to treat my chronic allergies. I had heard about them in a few articles and had seen them advertized at my local pharmacy. I have a number of chronic health conditions and am required to take medication for them but I was becoming increasingly concerned with the quantity of medication I was taking. I started seeking out ways to treat some of my conditions naturally, without medication so that it would decrease the amount of chemicals going into my body. Some of my medications simply aren’t optional but I knew I had some leeway with some of the others and the first one I looked into giving up was my allergy medication. My allergies begin each year in March and last well into November. During that time period, I have to take a prescription allergy medication twice a day and have had to do so for years. I began with that same regimen in March 2009 but by the beginning of April I had purchased and started using my Neti pot. Since that time, I have only had to use allergy medications twice. That’s two pills in the past 7 months as opposed to my usual of over 400 pills in that same time period. That’s how effective the Neti pot has been for me!
In North America, sinus problems are the number one reason for visits to a doctor. Pollution and chemicals in our environment have raised the number of occurrences of allergies, sinusitis, and asthma in the population and therefore, the amount of allergy medications being taken has greatly increased as well. A Neti pot offers an alternative to all that medication. Even if it simply decreases the amount of medication a person has to take, it has value.
In addition, doctors and scientists have found in their research that Neti pots can clear cold and influenza viruses out of the nasal passages, reducing the incidences of these viruses actually taking hold in the body. Furthermore, if used while a person has a cold, flu, or sinusitis, it can decrease the amount of time they are ill. I caught a cold about a month ago and normally for me, I will have the major symptoms of a head cold for about 5 days, followed by the cold migrating to my chest where I will have major chest cold symptoms for another 5 days and potentially causing pneumonia in my lungs. I did take Guaifenesin syrup along with using my Neti pot during this cold; I always use the Guaifenesin as it helps to prevent the cold from settling in my chest. The major difference this time though was that, with using the Neti pot to flush the germs out of my sinus passages, the major head cold symptoms lasted only 3 days and the chest cold portion, only 1 day.
I have used the Neti pot faithfully twice a day for the past 7 months not only to treat my allergies but to help prevent colds and flu and to lessen their duration should I catch anything. Although my allergy season is over, I will continue using this year round as it keeps my nasal passages lubricated even in all of the dry heat we have in our homes at this time of year in Canada. Furthermore, influenza experts have suggested that it is, along with handwashing and the other guidelines, a valuable source of some additional protection against H1N1 and that as long as it is flu season, they suggest that people continue to use it.
A Neti pot is a nasal irrigation system that utilizes gravity to assist in clearing out one’s nasal passages. It has been used in India for thousands of years, especially by those who practise yoga or Ayurveda. Some experienced users irrigate with solutions that have certain herbs or aromatherapy oils in them but for most, a simple saline solution is all that is used and all that is needed. Neti pots come in slightly different designs and different materials. Original ones were made mainly of a clay pottery or ceramics, but more modern pots come in several varieties of materials. Mine is plastic.
To use a Neti pot, you fill it with a warm saline solution. When I purchased my Neti pot, it came in a “kit” with the pot itself and a lot of packets of dry saline solution to be mixed with water in my pot. It is very important that you get the water just the right temperature. You want it slightly warm as hot water can be dangerous (you CAN burn yourself) and cold water can be extremely uncomfortable and can give you a headache. The procedure for using the Neti pot is very simple but it does take a little getting used to for most people. Honestly, it is not as uncomfortable as it looks; in fact I don’t find it uncomfortable at all. It’s just an unusual feeling that I was not used to at first.
Prior to using the Neti pot, you should blow your nose to clear it out as best as possible. You want to turn your head a bit to one side and lean slightly forward to use the pot. You have to experiment a bit to get the positioning just right. If you lean too far forward, you may find the solution is draining down the back of your throat instead out of your nostril as it should be. You insert the spout of the pot into one nostril and pour gently. If you are relaxed and positioned correctly, the solution should flow out of the other nostril. Raise the pot a tiny bit at a time to maintain an even flow through your nasal passages. You need to breathe through your mouth throughout this procedure. When you have completed one nostril, repeat on the other side. Exhaling strongly after each irrigation can help to clear out any remnants of congestion in your nasal passages and release anything the solution has loosened up that has not already been expelled. There are now nasal syringes that use a bulb type system to force the saline solution through the nasal passages but this seemed too “aggressive” to me and I felt I would be more comfortable and have heard of better results with the Neti pot instead.
As I said, when I purchased my Neti pot, it came in a kit with 50 packages of the powdered saline for me to mix with warm water in my pot. Once I finished that, I couldn’t see spending that kind of money on buying those little premixed, premeasured, individual packets all the time. I did some research and spoke to my doctor and found that I could make my own saline solution easily at home without purchasing the pre-made packets. To make the solution, you need noniodized salt such as kosher or sea salt. Combine a heaping 1/4 tsp. of the salt (if a finely ground salt) or a rounded 1/2 tsp. of a coarser salt with 1 cup warm water in your Neti pot. I put the lid on tightly and put my finger over the spout so I can give this solution a good shake to allow the salt to dissolve. This method, I find, is just as easy as using the packets but much much less expensive.
This video shows a demonstration of how to use a Neti pot.
Another blog with a post on the topic: http://www.faithandfamilylive.com/blog/neti_potapalooza/