Every year millions of people are affected by sinus infections. Colds, allergies, pollutants and even dry or cold air can cause mucus build-up in the nasal cavities and sinuses – which can lead to discomfort and infections.
According to Mayo Clinic, medications like antihistamines can cause drowsiness, fatigue and other side effects. Many people therefore turn to age-old, natural remedies like flushing the sinuses. So-called nasal irrigation has the added benefit of removing irritants like dirt, dust and pollen.
Ayurveda, the age-old medical science from India, has traditionally used the neti pot as an alternative approach to ease nasal and sinus congestion. It is quick, cheap and effective and has no side effects if used correctly, the US Food and Drug Administration explains. The procedure is called Jala Neti in Sanskrit and means “water cleansing”.
What is a neti pot?
A neti pot resembles a small teapot but has a longer spout. (Bulb syringes and squeeze bottles fulfil the same function.) The basic principle is that a saline solution is poured into one nostril by means of the neti pot and ends up flowing out the other nostril. It is also possible to let the salt water flow from the nostril into the mouth, clearing and disinfecting the post-nasal passage.
The FDA recommends the following steps for nasal rinsing:
- While leaning over a sink, tilt your head to the side with your forehead and chin on the same level.
- Taking care to breathe through your mouth, insert the spout of the saline-filled container into your upper nostril. Slowly pour the liquid into the nostril and wait for it to drain through the lower nostril.
- Gently blow your nose, then repeat the procedure through the other nostril.
According to the Chopra Centre, apart from clearing mucus and alleviating sinus infections, using a neti pot can also help reduce:
- Allergy symptoms
- Nasal dryness
- Sinus headaches
- The need for medication
- Problems with smell and taste
- Breathing problems
- Colds and flu
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