In Ayurveda, performing a sinus rinse with a neti pot has been a practice for thousands of years. The nasal passages are a first line of defense from allergens and other airborne particles and regular cleansing can help reduce irritation and nasal congestion. My daughters were both able to do this by themselves at age 6!
A traditional neti pot is usually made of ceramic and looks like a little teapot. There are also squeezable plastic sinus rinse kits that some find to be very convenient, although I’m all for reducing the use of plastic. These are both ways to flush out the nasal passages using a saltwater (saline) solution).
Daily use can help reduce symptoms. During allergy season, I encourage my patients to do this practice at the end of the day to remove allergen particles that may have accumulated during the day.
How to Use a Neti Pot:
- Create a saline solution by mixing 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt per 16 ounces (two cups) of sterile, distilled or filtered warm water. Some add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to reduce stinging.
- Lean over a sink (or stand in the shower) and tilt your head at about a 45-degree angle.
- Insert the spout into your right nostril and breathe through your mouth as you tip the pot to allow the saline solution to flow into your nostril. The saline solution will flow through the right nasal passage and out the left nostril into the sink (or shower). If solution runs down into your throat, simply spit it out.
- Blow your nose gently to remove any mucus and excess solution.
- Repeat the same process in the left nostril.
- Apply a small dab of food-grade or nasal oil to the inside of your nostrils to avoid excessive dryness.
Important Tips for Using a Neti Pot:
- Always use sterile, distilled, or filtered water to avoid infectious contaminants that could lead to a serious brain infection.
- Always wash your hands before using a neti pot.
- Tips to avoid stinging:
- use non-iodized salt and make sure it’s completely dissolved
- use water that is not chlorinated or has been filtered to remove chlorine
- add ¼ teaspoon baking soda to the saline water
- Clean the neti pot thoroughly after each use with sterile, distilled or filtered water, then dry completely.
- Mild side effects such as nasal irritation may occur with regular use.
- Those with a history of nosebleeds or swallowing problems may want to avoid this practice.
- Discontinue use if symptoms worsen.