When the seasons change from winter to spring, we look for the new buds on the trees, a warm caress in the air, and fresh beginnings. But with these exciting signs of renewal may come some unpleasant features: seasonal allergies, lingering sinus infections from the winter’s colds, and nasal dryness. One way to get relief from these and more is using a neti pot.
The history of the neti pot dates back over 5,000 years to ancient hatha masters who taught their students a variety of neti practices, including jala neti, which includes flushing the nasal passages with water, milk, or ghee to prepare the mind and body for meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques). The Himalayan Institute introduced the first commercially available neti pot in the west in 1972, made of ceramic. As westerners’ health and wellness lifestyles began incorporating yoga and ayurvedic practices, companies produced neti pots in various materials, such as plastic, copper, and stainless steel. When Oprah demonstrated a neti pot on her show in 2007, she brought it into the mainstream, cementing its place as a valuable tool in the medicine cabinet.
The benefits of using a neti pot include but are not limited to: thoroughly rinsing the nasal passages and clearing all mucus, relieving sinus pressure, improving breathing and limiting congestion, and improving symptoms without the side effects from over-the-counter medication such as stimulation or drowsiness. Always check in with your healthcare provider before introducing a new treatment into your regimen. Children should use a neti pot only with the direct supervision of an adult. It is also vital that you use the neti pot correctly. With careless use, a neti pot or nasal wash can leave you with more problems than you started with!
When getting started with a neti pot, you must consider a few essential things. You can choose a neti pot from the selection found at your local health food store. Often you can find beautiful handmade glazed ceramic options, but a more budget-friendly option like a plastic pot is just as effective. Traditional neti pots most often look like small teapots and use gravity to assist the flow of water through the nasal passages. They have an open top, a handle, and a long spout. Check to ensure you get a smooth neti pot with no rough edges, especially at the tip of the spout, as this part will be placed inside your nostril. You can also find a squeeze-bottle type of nasal cleansing device, but these require finesse when using. Otherwise, it may be an uncomfortable and messy experience!
To clean the neti pot and free any debris or dust, wash it thoroughly before usage. The water you use inside the neti pot must be either distilled, filtered, boiled at room temperature, or bottled. NEVER use tap water in a neti pot. Plain, unboiled tap water can cause nasal infections. It’s also crucial to use room-temperature water; if you use a prescription nasal solution, that must also be at room temperature. Water that is too hot or too cold will make using your neti pot unpleasant or possibly painful.
Once you’re ready to go with clean water, it’s time to make a saline solution. Conveniently, you can buy pure salt at your health food store. When you purchase your neti pot, look for the salt on the shelf nearby. The nasal cleansing salt explicitly created for use in a neti pot is finer than table salt, iodine free, and free from impurities. You’ll find it in canisters and single-serve packets. The correct ratio is ¼ teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of your clean lukewarm water. In your health food store, you may also see some neti wash “boosters.” These may contain specific essential oils and herbs to make your wash more soothing and moisturizing. Feel free to ask questions of the sales associate at your store for more information and guidance.
You will find directions for making the saline solution and using your neti pot on the packaging, but the basic process is straightforward. Wash your hands and fill the neti pot with your prepared saline solution. Lean over a sink or basin, and tilt your head to one side. Breathe through your mouth, insert the neti pot’s spout into your upper nostril, and gently raise the pot by the handle so gravity pulls the solution through your sinus cavity and out the lower nostril. After completion, exhale gently through the nose to clear your nasal passage. Reverse sides and repeat the steps through your other nostril. For your last step, clean and dry your neti pot.
Generally safe and side-effect free, neti pots deliver quick results if used properly. After getting the hang of the process and becoming used to the sensation of the water rinse, many people find the practice soothing and an integral part of their connection with their bodies and seasonal wellness practice.
Alina Hornfeldt is the marketing manager at Mastel’s Health Foods in Saint Paul. Passionate about the health and wellness industry for most of her life, Alina desires to create a home base for all community members to share knowledge and experiences. Named Vitamin Retailer of the Year in 2021, Mastel’s Health Foods’ mission is to provide a safe and welcoming environment in order to assist customers in achieving their health goals through education, guaranteed high-quality supplements, and natural products.