Ode to a Neti Pot

Mention neti pots and you will usually get one of two reactions:

Love it!

or

No way!

I fall firmly into the first group.  I love, love, love my neti pot.  Particularly in the winter and when I have a cold.  I feel so clear after I use it, able to breathe freely.  I also love knowing that I’m clearing stuff out.  Living in NYC I breathe in a lot of stuff.  Pollen, car exhaust, and other things I’d rather not think about.  When I use my neti pot I wash away any yuck that has accumulated in my nasal passages so it doesn’t hang around causing trouble.

But it’s when I have a head cold that the neti really shows its worth.  Even before I became interested in alternative healing I wasn’t much of a medicine taker. But I did take decongestants when I had a cold.  I really hate lying there in bed, unable to breathe, unable to sleep.  So I took over the counter medicine.  Initially I would take multi-use items like Nyquil or Alka-Seltzer.  Eventually I realized that all I really needed was decongestants so I took those.  And they work, they do, but they left my nasal passages feeling like they’d been scoured and then blown dry.  Not comfortable.

Then my lovely sister introduced me to the neti pot.  Oh frabjous day!  If I use my neti pot in the morning and just before I go to bed at night I have no problem breathing and sleeping.  And unlike decongestants it moistens the nasal passages to it  does not hurt to breathe.  It also shortens the amount of time I spend with a runny nose and since I started using my neti daily I’ve gone from 2-3 colds a season to just 1.

When I talk to those who have rejected the neti it’s usually because they had a bad first experience.  They got water in their throat or the water burned their nose.  It does not have to be this way.  If you carefully follow the directions that come with your neti you will be fine.  Here are a few tips to help you have a good experience.

1. DO NOT use table salt.  This often contains anti-clumping agents that you do not want flowing through your nose. Use pure sea salt or Kosher salt.  I like fine sea salt because it dissolves easily and quickly.

2. Use the right amount of salt.  Often people experience burning because they added too little.  You want the solution to be the same as the salt content of your cells, in medicine they call it saline solution.  Use a solid 1/4 tsp of fine salt to 8 ounces of water.  If you use coarse salt you will need more than 1/4 tsp because there is more empty space between the grains.

3. Use warm water, a bit warmer than body temperature.  Avoid extreme temperatures, either hot or cold.

4. Bend over far enough.  You want your face to be parallel to the bottom of the sink.  If you get a bit of water in the back of your throat it means you need to bend further forward.

5. Do not add extra stuff, like essential oils, without thoroughly investigating.  Essential oils in particular can irritate the mucous membranes.

6. Keep your neti pot clean.  Wash it after you use it and don’t let water stand in it.  Also, if your tap water is not the best you may want to use distilled or boiled water.

7. Buy a beautiful neti that you will love looking at as well as using, like this one by Coryell Clayworks:

I encourage you to try it and don’t give up if the first time is not so comfortable.  It is totally worth the effort.

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