Neti Pot

By Asha Kreiling

For me, the worst part about being sick is nasal congestion — not being able to breathe through my nose and feeling as if my whole head is filled with mucus. With flu and cold season in full swing, many of us are left desperate for solutions and cures to these annoying symptoms. One tool people swear by is the neti pot. The first time someone explained to me how a neti pot works, I thought, “That sounds awful!” But, neti pots have been used since ancient times in Ayurvedic medicine as a trusted, and now very popular, technique to relieve clogged nasal passages when regular nose blowing doesn’t work.

Neti pots come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials; but the common design looks like little plastic or ceramic genie’s lamp or tea pot.

To use a neti pot, follow these steps:netipot right

1. Fill the neti pot with a saline solution (¼ teaspoon non-iodized salt mixed with 1 cup of warm sterile water).
2. Then, as you lean over a sink or a large bowl, turn your head to one side and insert the spout of the neti pot. Pour the solution into your upper nostril. Breathe through your mouth. Gravity will pull the liquid through your sinuses, flushing mucus, dirt, allergens, and bacteria out through your other nostril.
3. When the neti pot is empty, lean straight over the sink, face down, and forcefully exhale through both nostrils.
4. Refill the neti pot and repeat with your other nostril.

The process may be a bit uncomfortable and imperfect if it’s your first time using a neti pot, but once  you get the hang of it, it’ll become a simple cleanse, just as mouthwash is. You should use a neti pot as often as you need it. If you are very congested, twice a day may be best, a few times a week as you recover from illness. Some people who have chronic sinus congestion or allergies may want to use the neti pot daily as a regular routine.

Neti_potWhile you easily can buy a neti pot and the special saline packets online or at most drug or health stores for around $10, some online videos and blogs offer DIY versions using squirt water bottles and regular sea salt or kosher salt. You may also add drops of herbal oils, such as ginger and scullcap oils, to help treat congestion symptoms. Whichever method and version you try, make sure you use pure salt and water that has been boiled or purified. There have been cases when people used plain tap water containing dangerous parasites to fill their neti pot, resulting in serious health consequences.

If you have a runny or stuffed nose, endlessly blowing your nose with tissues can be painful and annoying, and it often doesn’t completely expunge small irritants stuck inside your nostrils. Neti pots are a great, natural way to help ease the nasal pain and misery that comes with illness and allergies.

About Asha Kreiling

Asha Kerilling wrote for in 2012 and 2013. She is now working in environmental policy analysis and implementation in US cities.

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