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The Neti Pot Secret – No More Sinus Problems

April 24, 2012

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Nasal congestion can make you feel tired, sluggish, and spacey, and can cause painful pressure behind your eyes, your nose, or even your teeth. If nasal allergies or headaches get the best of you, there’s an easy, natural, tried-and-true way to clear your head while being kind to your poor stuffed sinuses: the neti pot.

The Sanskrit word “neti” refers to an Ayurvedic purification technique that dates back thousands of years to India’s ancient yogic traditions. Since congestion made it difficult for yogis to practice a set of breathing exercises called Pranayama (and achieve the enlightment resulting from it), they developed the practice of neti to help them clear nasal passages of dirt, dryness, debris, and disease and to reduce the resulting sinus inflammation. Over time, they developed the neti pot (“neti lota”), a tool created specifically for this purpose.

Neti is divided into two primary approaches. Jala (or “water”) neti uses a neti pot—a plastic, ceramic, or metal vessel that looks like a small, off-set teapot—filled with warm salt water to flush the nasal passages. Alternatively, sutra (or “string) neti, uses a thread or a piece of surgical tubing to do the same. While sutra neti requires a bit more experience and supervision, jala neti can be practiced by nearly anyone.

Want to try jala neti? Check out this video:

Courtesy of YouTube user healthandyoga

Here are a few important tips:

  • Cleanliness is key. Wash your hands before using your neti pot, and make sure you disinfect your neti pot before and after use.  
  • Always use sterile, distilled water. If your only option is tap, bottled, or filtered water (which may carry pathogens, chemicals, or bacteria), be sure to boil it for at least five minutes and cool it to a safe temperature before use.
  • Neti water should be warmed to body temperature or slightly above.
  • Neti pots come in different sizes, but the general salt-to-water ratio is approximately ⅛ to ¼ tsp. of salt per 8 oz. of water. A simple way to know if you’ve got it right is to pour a small amount of the salt water on your finger and taste; that the water should be about as salty as tears. (Unlike the video, we don’t recommend drinking directly from the neti pot.)
  • Always use sea salt or salt specifically made for a neti pot. Table salt may be iodized, and can be irritating to the delicate lining of your sinuses. 
  • Some people report that performing neti on a daily basis dries their nasal passages and causes discomfort. With this in mind, it’s best to perform neti only as needed.

     How do you keep yourself breathing free and easy?