Neti Pot: It just might work
OK, truth time. I’ve been meaning to write about the Neti pot since January. It’s taken me that long to get over my resistance to flushing out my sinus cavities with a saline solution.
The Ick Factor
First: Why did I take so long to try it? There is the initial ick factor; even thinking about flushing out my nasal passages made me shudder. What was going to come out? I live in the city; soot, filth and dust particles are everywhere. Add to that grass and tree pollen and mold spores. At the end of your day, visible grime specs are everywhere: on your face, in your hair and on your clothes. It begged the question: what would be in this city girl’s nose?
Then the second wave of ick: why would I want to stick a little pot’s nozzle into my nose and have water drip through my nasal passages? I wouldn’t, normally.
Third, the whole Neti pot notion seems “weird,” even to an all-natural girl like me. In the U.S., we’re simply not used to more natural methods of body irrigation, cleaning and maintaining. What’s normal and everyday for cultures and countries the world over is not the norm here.
Neti Pot Use Gains Momentum
Neti has been all over the news in the last year, prompted no doubt by Oprah and her favorite on-air doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz. About the Neti pot from Oprah.com: “Dr. Oz says the device can help clear mucus from your sinuses using warm saltwater. ‘It’s actually filling up those little nooks and crannies that you have and allowing your body to evacuate that stuff so you can actually begin to function normally’.”
If that doesn’t drive you to try the Neti (and it didn’t me) the New York Times did an article in January about the Neti pot, its origins and its uses that gives some more reasons to look into the Neti pot as a natural allergy care complimentary treatment.
“Originally part of a millennia-old Indian yogic tradition, the practice of nasal irrigation - jala neti - is performed with a small pot that looks like a cross between Aladdin’s lamp and your grandmother’s gravy boat…’ There are an estimated billion viral episodes of the upper respiratory tract a year,’ said Dr. Marple, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. ‘Studies indicate that saline nasal irrigation is a highly effective, minimally invasive intervention for people suffering from nasal issues,’ Dr. Marple said. ‘But it’s just not as sexy to talk about. People want to hear about surgery or antibiotics’.”
Does Neti Work?
So I pushed past my resistance, filled the innocuous looking Aladdin’s lamp, (it really does look like one) filled it with warm, filtered tap water and mixed in the salts to create a warm saline solution. As per the instructions, I tipped my head and inserted the spout to one nostril. The warm water took longer than I thought to fill in my sinuses; I expected to pour in the water one nostril and have it come out the other. (NB: there’s some wait time while it fills).
Once your nostrils fill up, it feels somewhat like water has gone up your nose when you go swimming, but less unpleasant. What came out wasn’t scary at all, in fact, I must have one of the cleaner noses in town. Which was another surprise, all that resistance for nothing You empty the entire pot into once nostril and refill it with more water and more salts for a repeat on the other side.
How do I feel afterward trying the Neti Pot? My nose does feel remarkably clean and happy. It will take a few weeks to be able remark on any longer term effects but for now, if you can push past any resistance you might have to the multiple potential ick factors (which turned out not to be icky at all) the Neti Pot seems to be a truly non-invasive way to keep your nose free and clear of potential environmental allergens.
Sloane wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Allergy and Asthma.