How to Use a Neti Pot & Why
Over the past ten years or so, neti pots have gained popularity in the west. However, neti pots have been used for centuries in the practice of Ayurveda. But what is a neti pot, why should you use one, and how should you use it?
A neti pot is basically a small teapot-like tool used for nasal irrigation. The pot is filled with lukewarm distilled water and salt from a saline packet then rinsed through one nostril and out the other. It helps to clear out any blockages in the sinuses, relieves allergies by removing pollen, helps with cold symptoms, and can even help with rhinosinusitis when used properly.
Neti pots can be used regularly to prevent colds, the flu, and allergies. However, it is possible to overdo it and those who use their neti pot daily without taking breaks may be at a higher risk for rhinosinusitis. This may be because the salt gradually depletes the mucosa in the sinuses. Without this protective layer, you may be at a higher risk of infection. As a general rule, you should use your neti pot daily for 1-3 weeks and then take a break of approximately a week or longer if you wish.
Neti pot safety is extremely important. Your neti pot must be thoroughly disinfected between uses, and can never be shared. I use only distilled water, but some sources say it’s okay to use water that has been sterilized (look for sterile on the bottle), or tap water that has been boiled and then cooled down to a lukewarm temperature. Tap water and spring water contain bacteria that your stomach acid can easily take care of. But your sinuses don’t have acid to break down bacteria - which means that bacteria will remain in your sinuses causing infection that could spread to your brain. There have been 2 cases of people who died from using tap water in their neti pots. Even if it’s rare, this risk should be taken very seriously.
When adding salt, it is best to use saline packets. These have been pre-packaged with the correct amount for a neti pot. I would not recommend trying to guess the dilution amounts yourself. These saline packets can be bought online or in almost any drug store.
How to Use:
Make sure that your neti pot has been disinfected before each use. You can use boiling water.
Pour one saline packet into your neti pot.
Heat some distilled water and fill the neti pot about a third of the way or halfway. The salt dissolves better into warm or hot water.
Fill the neti pot with room temperature distilled water, and if needed, allow it to cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.
Bend over a sink and breathe naturally through your mouth.
Place the spout of the neti pot into your right nostril. Then tilt your head to the side until you find the right angle for the liquid to flow easily through one nostril and out the other. If you are very congested, the flow may not be easy so take your time.
Allow ½ of the liquid to run through the right side. Then remove the neti pot from your nostril and level your head over the sink, allowing any leftover water to flow out of your nose.
Blow your nose gently through both nostrils. If you only blow one side, you may hurt your ears.
Then repeat through the left nostril.
Aside from the physical benefits of using a neti pot, nasal irrigation is also said to have energetic benefits. The third eye chakra is located between the eyebrows. This energy center is along the sinus pathways. Using a neti pot may help to clear energetic blockages of the third eye, improving intuition. This can be a great tool for yoga teachers and healers.