Nasal Irrigation is becoming recognized once again as an effective way to eliminate sinus congestion, battle the common cold and relieve allergies.
Why has it come back so strong?
People are tired of drugs and want a natural alternative treatment for allergies, the common cold and sinus congestion. Nasal irrigation using the ayurvedic neti pot is the way to go – cheap, fast and extremely effective.
Popping an anti-histamine or snorting one does not remove the problem. All it does is temporarily slow down mucous production. Then, once again, one finds themselves with drugs up their nose or down their throat.
How does nasal irrigation remove the problem? It doesn’t entirely. That is a whole other topic which requires balancing the immune system, reducing stress, maintaining proper hydration and proper nutrition. To tickle your fancy though, freeze-dried nettle works really well as does quercetin.
But until one achieves this treatment, allergies persist and so does sinus congestion – especially now due to colds and flu bugs flying about. There must be relief immediately – and that is what the neti pot provides.
Basically, what the neti pot does is gently wash away excess mucous, bacteria, pollen, allergens and viruses from the sinuses. There is one main sinus that the neti pot can reach – the maxillary sinus which is on either side of your nose – basically inside the ‘cheek bone’. When they fill with pus or mucous, it hurts. Not only does it hurt, but it provides a further haven for more bacteria and viruses as the immune system cannot enter. The door is closed.
Nasal irrigation opens that door by washing out the pus and mucous. Then, the immune system’s IgA antibodies, which live on the mucous membranes of your nose, once again get back to work.
Can anti-histamines, aspirin, or tylenol do that? A resounding no.
Don’t treat the symptom. Treat the cause of the symptom. It is sooo easy to do and it is so rarely done.
One must think, “Why do I have sinus congestion and pain on either side of my nose?” Mucous buildup. Ok. Why? I’m sick due to the common cold. Good. Why? I’ve been working my butt off at work. Understandable. What are you going to do about it? Take vitamin C. (studies show that it really does work when sick) That’s a start.
What are you going to do about the pain and sinus congestion in your nose?
Going to do nasal irrigation with my neti pot. Good! Now we’re talking!
Do you want to know how to use the neti pot correctly? Silly question, I know. Of course you do!
Basically, I recommend using filtered water as chlorine is drying and an irritant to the mucous membranes as it damages proteins. You may be thinking that this is good as you want to dry the mucous membranes out and chlorine can help kill the bacteria. No – not really. It takes quite some time for chlorine to kill bacteria for one. The other is you do want your sinuses to have their natural mucous secretions as it is they which carry the IgA antibodies. The IgA antibodies are what signal the immune system to kill the bacteria and viruses in your nose.
A little medical sidenote: 1 in 700 people are IgA deficient. This is not handy for obvious reasons. A neti pot is extremely important for these people. If you get sinus infections, colds and other sinus bugs frequently, you may want to get a test done seeing if you are one of the lucky winners of an IgA deficiency. It’s a simple swab-up-the-nose test.
To use the neti pot correctly:
- Fill the neti pot preferably with warm filtered or purchased water. Not cold or hot water. Must be warm.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure salt. Do not use mineral salts or sea salts. Some people are allergic to shellfish and this will not help the situation. One can buy pure neti salt and it’s not expensive. Normal table salt is fine also but it is processed like crazy – they use about 15+ chemicals to end up with pure white table salt. You didn’t want to know that did you?
- You can add a pinch of baking soda also. This softens the water a bit so it’s easier on your mucous membranes.
- I use a tincture called Neti Wash Plus and that comes with zinc or zinc free. Basically this is a mixture of anti-bacterials, anti-fungals, and immune support nutrients and herbs which are proven effective in research. It is pre-made and just simply add a dropperful or two in the neti pot. Only use this during mucous buildup and sinus congestion. Don’t use everyday as it is designed to break up sticky mucous. If one doesn’t have sticky mucous, then it will hurt your healthy thin mucous – which you now know, you need.
- I recommend doing this procedure in the shower. This way you cannot make a mess. You can also do it over a sink or sitting down with a big bowl on the table in front of you.
- Insert the neti pot spout into one side of your nose. Lean your head slightly to one side and forward a bit. This allows the medicated water to flow from one side of your nose to the other. This action pushes out the mucous and also drops off the medicated water in your sinuses.
- Stay in this head bent and tilted position while the water runs out – say for about 15 seconds.
- When 15 seconds is up, remove the spout and gently blow your nose. Do not block one nostril while blowing your nose as this forces the mucous up closer to your brain. Also do not blow forcibly as this will push the mucous into your ear canal. Just blow lightly – like a soft outward snort.
- Repeat on the other side. Do this about 2-3 times each side. Refill the neti pot as needed. I typically can do it sufficiently with one full neti pot.
- This takes about 3 minutes. Sounds like a lot of work but it’s fast – especially as you do it more and more.
- Rinse out the neti pot or place it in the dishwasher to sterilize. I recommend buying one for each person of the family. This way you don’t have to wash it so hard every time.
You may feel one of two things: all cleared up and easier to breathe – or – stuffed up more than before. If stuffed up, don’t fret or blow your nose hard. Just wait. The Neti wash plus tincture mix is working on breaking up the mucous and within a few minutes, you’ll be searching for tissues as the mucous begins to literally flow out of your nose. It’s pretty awesome how fast it works. Remember – do not blow hard and do not occlude one nostril. If you do blow hard or occlude one nostril, you have made your sinus congestion return – or worse, moved it into your ear.
Don’t blow hard. You don’t need to. The neti wash plus and nasal irrigation does all the work for you. You just provide the tissues and the trashcan.
Try to stay rested, relaxed and healthy. Not easy to do – but when you get a cold or sinus congestion – you now know what to do!
If you have any questions about nasal irrigation, you may email me. I’d be glad to help you out.
Some basic cautions with nasal irrigation. If you have routine bloody noses, don’t do it. If you get a bloody nose, adjust the salt/baking soda/tincture ratio. If you still get bloody noses, stop as your mucous membranes may be too dried out. I don’t recommend using the neti wash plus with zinc if your nose is sensitive. They make a neti wash plus zinc free which is also effective. Zinc is added as it stimulates the immune system. Also, don’t use the neti wash plus unless you have sinus congestion or mucous buildup in your sinuses. A simple nasal irrigation with salt and baking soda is all you need if you have slight buildup – say from last night’s sleep.
Which neti pot to choose? I prefer the stainless steel neti pot as I broke my ceramic neti pot in the shower when it dropped. The plastic neti pot is also handy as you can toss it into your baggage when you travel.
NPR did a special news report on the use of neti pots and nasal irrigation. Neti pots are making a strong comeback as a main treatment for sinus congestion and allergies.
The NPR quick summary: Morning Edition, October 12, 2005. An age-old technique that may have developed from yoga traditions is turning out to be a simple and effective way to combat the cold. Flushing the nasal passageway with warm salt-water can help prevent colds and bring relief to allergy-sufferers. by Patricia Neighmond
You may listen to the program in full on this page.
Good ol’ NPR – they never cease to amaze me.
Enjoy the broadcast!
In health, Ben