How to Neti Pot

How to Neti Pot

I’d like to go on a different direction from our usual topics here and share with you a how-to that is, in fact, marginally more impactful to my daily life and overall well-being than the topic of getting dressed (and that, as we all know, is an ever-important wellspring of discussion and inspiration). 

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The neti pot.

I have bad allergies. As a child, the nurse administering the allergy scratch test to determine what I was allergic to apologized like she’d really hurt me after lifting the grid of tiny petri dishes off my back. Angry red welts had appeared under the samples of dust, pollen, ragweed, cats, dogs, many trees, and most grasses. The bloom of spring, the wither of fall, the blast of throat-closing misery that occurs every time I enter a friend’s house with a cat or a dog, (or even simply a long time between dusting and vacuuming). While attempting to spare you too many of the details of my tender nasal passages, these environmental stressors used to a trigger a biannual sinus infection, as steady as the seasons. The foggy, stuffed up feeling combined with the “my-head-is-a-balloon: effect of the infection-killing medication had me staring mournfully out the window at a new summer, the detritus a past season still stuck in my head.

That is, until the neti pot. A vessel used to flush the nose and sinuses of mucus and debris, it has been used as a practice of personal hygiene for thousands of years in India through Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine. I am not an Ayurverdic expert, nor am I a doctor, but I can safely say that the routine of neti potting daily has dramatically impacted my life, not only alleviating my allergy symptoms but completely eliminating my regular sinus infections. Even so, one does not have to be an allergy sufferer to get all the incredible benefits of neti potting.

The practice of neti potting regularly can:

  • remove debris, pollutants, and allergens from the respiratory system,

  • relieve and quicken the lifespan of a cold,

  • increase your perception and awareness, 

  • cool the system on the brain, 

  • improve smell and taste,

  • and just generally produce a deliciously clear yet moisturized feeling in the nasal passages. 

To begin, you will need:

  • A neti pot.

    Rather than spending money on a reusable plastic vessel from the drugstore, invest in a ceramic neti-pot, which can be washed thoroughly and dried easily (look for one that is dishwasher safe for when you need to sanitize your neti pot after an illness, for instance). 

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  • Pure Sea Salt.

    Look for salt that has absolutely no additives - just sea salt. I like fine crystal sea salt. I use a 1/2 teaspoon.

  • One cup of water.

    This is important and a major safety consideration - please do not skip this step!  I use tap water, which I bring to a rolling boil to kill any bacteria, and then cool. My ideal neti pot temp is body temperature, so I boil an extra cup of water while I make tea in the morning, and then let it cool while I’m getting ready for my day.

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(If I need to speed up the cooling time, I may put stick the it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.) I test to see if it’s ready by putting a (clean!) pinky into the water — if it’s the same temperature, then it’s go time. You can also use distilled water to skip the boiling process, but I recommend warming it up to body temperature.  

Here’s how you do it.

  • Bring a cup of water to a rolling boil and then allow to cool. (Or, warm a cup of distilled water to body temperature.)

  • Mix 1/2 teaspoon of pure sea salt with the water into your neti pot.

  • Place your left elbow on the counter in front of a sink and rest your head comfortably in your left hand. 

  • Leaning over the sink, tuck the small opening of the neti pot into your right nostril. Lift your right elbow towards the ceiling and allow the neti pot solution to flow out of your left nostril. Relax, and breathe easily out of your mouth. If water drains to your mouth, try increasing the angle of your head to the side.

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  • When the water is about halfway gone, switch positions and place your right elbow on the countertop, resting your head in your right hand and lifting your left elbow towards the ceiling to drain the solution out of your right nostril. 

  • Upon completion, gently blow any excess solution from your nose. (Try not to blow too hard, or blow all of that healing solution completely out!)

Of course, as with any medically related activity, be sure to consult your doctor before trying a neti-pot.

I’d love to hear from you! Have you neti potted? Has it worked for you? Comment below or email me at Cheers and thanks for reading!

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