Neti Pot Use For Healthy Sinuses: Tis the Season.

© April 24, 2008; by Dan A. Gold, MD

     It is Spring again, not just by the calendar, but by many signs. Days are warmer and the trees and grasses are producing their foliage. Pollen covers all.  It is also apparent from the recent increase in head congestion complaints and sinusitis cases in my office. The good news is the existence of an age old remedy for maintenance of upper respiratory health and the treatment of sinus disease: the neti pot.

     The neti pot is a small vessel similar in appearance to a tea pot, which finds its ancient origins in the Indian subcontinent tradition of Ayurvedic medicine. For millions of people the world over, it is used once or twice a day as a health maintenance activity. What exactly is this process and what does it accomplish?

     The pot is a small vessel with a spout designed to seal against the nasal opening. It holds about a cup of warm, salty water. Instructions for mixing salt solutions and suggestions for purchasing packets of buffered salts are typically included. The technique is simple. NOTE: use sterilized water to mix the saline which can be accomplished by boiling in the microwave and then allowing to cool before use.

     After placing the spout against the nostril, lean over the sink while turning your head to the side. As you pour, the salt water flows gently into the upper nostril and drains from the bottom nostril into the sink. Mouth breathing is easy, and there should be no choking.

     It is important to note that the salt water finds its way into the hollow sinus cavities contained inside the bones of the skull while also displacing the air in the nasal passages. This is crucial, because a siphon effect is created allowing the user to empty, not only their nostrils, but also the contents of the sinuses simply by blowing the nose. Spraying the nasal passages with a salt water solution cannot accomplish this effect. Why is this process so beneficial for allergy and sinus infection sufferers?

     The nasal passages are tremendously efficient filters. As air contaminated with pollens, germs, dust and other pollutants enters the nose, it encounters ridges on the walls of the nasal passage. Turbulence is created causing the particles to lose lift and fall, becoming trapped in the mucous. The air then reaches the back of the nasal passages filtered and clean. What about the particles left behind?

Certainly blowing the nose can help clean out contaminated mucous. The regular use of neti rinsing, however, allows us to backwash our filtration system daily rather than collecting germs, pollens, and other materials in our upper respiratory passages all day, only to retire at night for an immune reaction.

     Finally, it is important to note that many practitioners of traditional, Western medicine recommend neti pot use to their patients. It is a “natural” therapy, but studies show

very significant success from regular use. One such study was reported in the Journal of Family Practice {51[12]: 1049-55, 2002} found here: .

     In summary, the treatment of chronic sinusitis is difficult. But I have seen patients who do not respond to the usual antibiotics and decongestant approach, achieve significant and sustained relief by the simple daily use of a neti pot. It is cheap, effective, and preventative. You can find them at most health food stores, larger drug stores, and on the internet. Buy one today for your bathroom, and enjoy your Spring.