Neti pots are a godsend for people with stuffy noses. Neti pots are basically cute little teapots for your nose! It may sound pretty disgusting, but basically it involves pouring saline solution through one nostril and having it come out the other, along with all the allergens, dust, and mucous clogging your sinuses. It’s been used as an Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and is a powerful way to help alleviate sinus issues. Since flu season is underway, this is a great tool to help fight it, and give relief to anyone having symptoms.
In Ayurveda, neti pots are used daily as a cleansing ritual to prepare oneself for yoga. The average neti pot user in America probably doesn’t schedule in nasal irrigation, but if you’d like it’s certainly safe to use daily, and even multiple times a day. To use a neti pot you need distilled water, warmed to either body temperature or slightly above. Distilled water is very important, because tap water contains many impurities, and two people have died from an amoeba that causes an extremely deadly disease that destroys brain tissue, found in tap water after using it for the neti pot (stomach acids kill the amoeba, so the tap water is apparently safe to drink, just not inhale).
My original neti pot was plastic and came with 50 packets of saline solution. Unfortunately, the plastic neti pot did not last more than three days until it sprang a leak, so I bought a longer lasting ceramic one. If you don’t have a packet of saline solution, you can make your own: 16 ounces of water to 1 teaspoon of salt (you can also buy specialized neti salt at health food stores). You can use half of it for each nostril, or use the whole 16 ounces for one side of your nose. After making the solution, double check how warm it is before pouring it through your nose–it should feel like comfortable bath water, never hot.
When your saline solution has been made, fill your neti pot and tilt your head at a 45 degree angle (ideally you should avoid head tilt, but I haven’t been able to do it without tilting my head a little bit). Lift the neti pot to your nose (I always start with the least stuffy nostril), and raise your elbow to cause the water to flow, without tilting your head any further. At first this is kind of discomforting and you may get some saline solution in your mouth–just spit it out. Breathe calmly through the mouth and let the water work its magic on your poor poor sinuses. After one nostril is done, GENTLY blow your nose so as to not hurt your eardrums, and repeat the process on the other side. You’ll be able to breathe again! It’s so amazing, and personally I went from being in an awful sickly mood, to happy as can be under the circumstances, just from feeling air in my nostrils again! Use as needed, and always use before bed to prevent nasal drip.
If your nose is too stuffy and the water doesn’t flow, using a neti pot is not advised. To help with the stuffiness, inhale some steam (I put eucalyptus drops into boiling water, or just take a hot shower) to relieve congestion and then you should be able to try the neti pot. People with chronic nosebleeds, nasal polyps, or deviated septums should speak with a medical professional before using the neti pot.
Also see: Warming Ayurvedic Tips for Winter