I’ve had allergies for as long as I can remember. I guess you could call them seasonal allergies, but they never completely go away. At worst, they make me sneeze and itch, cause my eyes to water, and give me a headache. (That’s when I take Clariton-D.)
At best, my only symptom is sniffling, and I end up blowing my nose a lot (probably about 10 times a day). It doesn’t really bother me, except when I wake up in the morning to sing. I’ve typically cleared things out with a warm shower and hot tea, but I recently discovered a new tool that I love - the neti pot.
Yogis have been using neti pots for millennia to clear their nasal passages prior to yoga and meditation. The practice is gaining popularity in the West as one of a few alternative treatments that has been endorsed by the medical establishment for treating allergies, colds, and sinusitis. Here’s a brief summary of the concepts behind it:
- The nasal passages act as the body’s air filtering system, keeping dirt, dust, germs, and pollen from entering the airways. Nasal cleansing is like changing (or at least cleaning) the body’s air filters.
- When nasal mucus gets thick, dry, thin, or runny, “it is easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate the nasal lining and cause the swelling and excess discharge of mucus we call a ‘cold’” (according to the Himalayan Institute).
- Running warm saline solution through the nasal passages can treat and prevent sinus problems, colds, allergies, and post-nasal drip and counteract the effect of environmental pollution.
Using the neti pot is simple, if a bit unsavory:
- Add warm distilled water and 1/4 teaspoon non-iodized salt to pot. (Note: it is essential for your health that you use distilled water)
- Standing over sink, tilt head to one side and pour solution into one nostril as it flows out through the other.
- Remove pot and blow air out through each nostril.
- Repeat process on opposite side.
Sidelining my sniffles
When I first got my neti pot, I hated it. I had read wonderful things about it and expected more than the uncomfortable feeling of salt water up my nose! However, I’ve now been using it for about a month, and it really is amazing.
My nasal passages feel much cleaner and clearer, and I blow my nose far less often. In fact, I recently got the flu (complete with a horrible sore throat and swollen vocal cords), but my nasal passages stayed surprisingly clear. I use the neti pot every day, but some people prefer to use it “as needed” following a cold, after air travel, or during pollen season.
For more info on the neti pot, visit:
Amazon.com: Neti Pot Starter Kit - This kit includes a neti pot and non-iodized salt.
Himalyan Institute: Neti Pot - Read detailed instructions on how to use the neti pot and find out more about studies on its effectiveness.
NYTimes.com: “Short, stout, has a handle on colds” - New York Times on the neti pot’s rise to fame.
YouTube.com: Himalayan Institute Neti Pot Demo - The Himalayan Institute’s official demo video.