Are you suffering from a nasal allergy or a cold? Are your sinuses clogged due to allergic rhinitis?  Well, neti pot may be the solution for you.

This container is designed to rinse mucus, pollen, and other debris out from your nasal cavity and provide relief from the annoying symptoms of colds and allergies.

Popularly known as nasal irrigation, this ayurvedic practice is gaining popularity in the US as well.

What is a neti pot?

A neti pot is a fluid-filled container that is used to rinse the nasal passage with warm water. Usually made up of ceramic or plastic, a neti pot resembles a small flattened teapot.

Though the size may vary, most neti pots can hold one cup of water. This pot is filled with a saline solution which is used for nasal irrigation.

The neti pot was developed as an Ayurvedic yoga tradition in ancient India. The work ‘neti’ means nasal cleaning, and it comes from the language Sanskrit.

Jala neti or nasal irrigation is essential in yoga as it is one of the six cleansing practices that one should follow. Yogis believe that clear breathing leads to clear thinking so that you can achieve a higher state of medication.

How do neti pots work?

The unique design of the neti pot enables the users to pour the nasal rinse solution into the nostrils, which flushes out the debris and mucus. This helps in lowering the congestion and improving the breathing.

To use the neti pot, fill it with sterile water and a mixture of salt and baking soda.  This mixture can be made with equal parts of salt and baking soda and kept in dry place.

When you have to use the neti pot, you must begin with washing your hands with soap and water. Then, fill the pot with warm sterile water. Add a mixture of salt and baking soda to the water. Put the lid on top and dissolve the mixture in the water.

Now lean over the sink and tilt your head to a 45-degree angle. Put the spout of the pot into your nostril and start pouring the water into your nose.

The water will pour into one nostril and slowly flow out of the other nostril. Breathe through your mouth when you do this. Repeat the same process on the other nostril.

If the water enters your mouth, spit it out. Blow your nose out to get rid of any solution or mucus.

Tips for using the neti pot

  • Always wash your hands before handling the neti pot.
  • Clean the neti pot after each use with distilled water.
  • Always use pure distilled water for nasal irrigation.
  • Always use non-iodised salt and dissolve it completely in water before using.
  • Do not share your neti pot with any other individual even though you clean it thoroughly after every use. Certain bacteria from the upper region of the nostrils can survive and be passed on to the other individual.
  • No matter how clean you keep your neti pot, change it every few months.

Health benefits of using a neti pot

1. Congestion

Sinus congestion can occur due to many reasons like dust, pollution, exposure to chemicals or synthetic perfumes. Neti pot helps in reducing congestion. Nasal irrigation cleans out all the irritant from the nostrils and gets them in a healthier state.

2. Colds

One of the most unwanted and irritating symptoms of the common cold is nasal congestion, which can also lead to headaches and facial pain.

When you use neti pot for nasal irrigation, it helps clear out the mucus, which further helps provide relief from headaches. In addition to nasal irrigation, you should also drink a lot of water for relief from colds.

3. Sinus infections

Chronic sinusitis is complicated to treat. Patients who suffer from sinus infections also complain about nasal blockage, facial pressure, dental pain, ear pressure, fever, headaches, and fatigue.

According to one study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, using neti pot can help reduce these symptoms. The study found that the symptoms decreased more for patients using nasal irrigation than those without it (1).

4. Allergies

Millions of people suffer from seasonal allergies on a yearly basis. Nasal congestion and nasal drip are the two most common symptoms of this allergy.

Often the mucus in the nose becomes thicker, which is tough to move. Nasal irrigation helps to thin out the mucus and improve the coordination of the cilia to clear out the nasal passages.

According to the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, nasal irrigation with a saline solution is an easy and inexpensive way to clear a stuffy nose caused by allergies (2).

Nasal irrigation also helps reduce the need for medication and improves the quality of life.

5. Snoring

If clogged sinuses are causing you to snore, nasal irrigation with neti pot may be the solution for you. When you can get rid of the congestion and unclog your nose, it will be able to sleep peacefully without snoring.

6. Safe for use during pregnancy

Many women develop nasal congestion during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. While doctors sometimes recommend allergy medication during pregnancy, it is best avoided.

Experts from Mayo Clinic recommend nasal irrigation with saline water as a safe way to reduce nasal congestion (3).

7. Safe for children

Nasal irrigation has also proven to be safe and effective for children with seasonal allergies. During a 2003 study, 20 children with allergic rhinitis were enrolled in a study.

Ten of these children were given nasal irrigation three times a day for six weeks, along with oral antihistamines. The other ten were just given oral antihistamines.

The researchers observed that the children allocated to nasal hydration had reduced symptoms like itching, nasal obstruction and sneezing. They also decreased their use of anti-histamine medication (4).

Warnings

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, if you do not use the neti pot correctly, you run a risk of developing severe infections.

Always use distilled, sterile and previously boiled water to make the nasal irrigation solution. Tap water is not safe for use in your nose.

In 2011, two Louisiana natives lost their lives after using water tainted with Naegleria fowleri (a type of amoeba) for nasal irrigation.

N. fowleri can enter the nose and migrate into the brain through the olfactory nerve, and this can lead to a fatal condition known as amebic meningoencephalitis.

Many neti pots have misleading information and guidelines. Some do not provide any instructions at all. So, learn how to use a neti pot correctly from an expert before you start using it.

Side effects of using the neti pot

1. Itchiness and burning

Some people develop itchiness, nasal irritation and sneezing after using a neti pot if they use too much salt in the warm water. Burning sensation can also occur if you use water that is too hot.

2. Ears and eyes

If you do not use the neti pot correctly, the salt solution can reach your ears or eyes. This can lead to dizziness, earache and draining of the solution from the eyes.

3. Nosebleeds

People who get nosebleeds may find their situation worsening after using the neti pot. Using the wrong concentration of the saline solution can also cause nosebleeds.

4. Discomfort

Always use plain salt for nasal irrigation. Adding additional substances like ephedrine to the salt solution can cause side effects like heart palpitations. Using aromatic salt can also lead to nasal discomfort.

5. Infection

If you do not clean your neti pot regularly after each use, it can lead to bacterial infection. Also, make a fresh saline solution every time to avoid infections.

6. Pre-existing health conditions

People with a pre-existing health condition like cystic fibrosis may experience side effects like throat irritation and tightness in the chest. People with impaired gag reflex should avoid using the neti pot as they run the risk of having fluid enter their lungs.

7. Rhinosinusitis

You should not use neti pot more than thrice a week. Overuse of neti pot can make more you prone to attacks of rhinosinusitis, an infection of the lining of the sinuses.

This happens because the salt in the neti pot can gradually the deplete the mucus that acts as a protective layer on the membranes of the nose.

Final thoughts

The neti pot originated in India and is used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The neti pot is a small teapot-like device that is usually made of plastic or ceramic.

Its unique design enables the user to rinse out the nostrils and flush out the irritants and thin out the mucus that is clogging them.

While this system of cleaning out the nostrils and sinuses is beneficial, it should be appropriately used to avoid any infections and damage.

Always use clear, distilled water and plain salt without any additives. Ensure you clean your neti pot after every use and do not share it with anyone. Learn the proper method of using the neti pot from an expert before you start using it yourself.

A neti pot is a fluid-filled container that is used to rinse the nasal passage with warm water. Usually it is is made up of ceramic or plastic