A Neti Pot

Warning: This is a post about snot.

Well, it's not entirely about snot. But snot is part of it. So if you're uncomfortable speaking about snot in mixed company (hey! it's nothing to be ashamed of, we all have it), you may want to skip this post. Have a nice day. See you tomorrow.

OK. Who's still with me? Brace yourself for this.

This is a neti pot.

Specifically, this is a blurry picture of my neti pot.

At least, it has been my neti pot since just after Christmas, when My Mom shipped it to me because she had amassed a collection of them.

[I know what you're thinking right now. Despite its appearance, you do not smoke anything out of this little purple pot. Do you really think My Mom would recommend that sort of thing? Come on. Focus.]

My Mom sent this to me after Christmas in D.C., when I was thoroughly congested and snotty and both My Mom and My Sister insisted that I needed to start using one. I resisted—I'm not a big fan of things getting too close to my nose, thanks. But once My Mom sent this lovely little thing, I had to give it a try.

And I have used it religiously twice a day since then. Now I can't live without it. Between the neti pot and my daily Claritin, I have not had any cold-like symptoms, excessive snottiness, or sinus headaches, despite the fact others around me have gotten sick and I am allergic to the dog I live with.

But wait. I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? You're still wondering what the heck the neti pot is and why I use it, right?

The idea of nasal irrigation originates in a land far, far away, a land known as India (you know, the home of Ayurveda and Yoga). That's what you do with the neti pot: you irrigate your nasal passages. Sounds delicious, doesn't it?

Basically, a neti pot is a means for keeping your sinuses healthy. I've heard that sinus problems are the number one reason people in the United States see a doctor, and I'd believe it based on personal experience. Nasal cleansing alone can't solve all the world's sinus problems, mind you, but it can keep your nose clean and your sinuses clear. Today, even many doctors in the United States (including My Mom's) recommend use of the neti pot. Basically, what you're doing is clearing the pollution, pollen, dust, etc. from you nasal passages—all those irritants that can cause allergies, sinus infections, and the like.

It's super easy to do. You fill the pot with warm water (make sure it's warm ... I've learned that water that is too cold or too hot is a bit uncomfortable). Then you add in some salt (non-iodized; mine is specifically made for neti pot use). Now, stand over the sink and tip your head to the side. Put the neti pot spout up to your nostril and pour. If your nose isn't too clogged, the water will eventually start pouring out of your other nostril. Repeat on the other side until the pot is gone.

Sounds easy, right? I'll be the first to admit, though, that it's intimidating as hell at first. And a bit uncomfortable. That's why I was so hesitant. The first time I tried it my nose was so stuffed the water didn't go anywhere; it just came pouring out all over my face. It was a nice saltwater facial and all, but not very effective.

Later when I tried it with my nose cleared, it felt terrible. Terrible. You know when you go to the ocean and get so pummeled by a wave that later that day you bend over and salt water comes pouring out of your nose, even though you left the ocean behind hours ago? That's what it feels like at first.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Still, I forged ahead, knowing all those people who rave about neti pots can't be wrong. I realized a few easy techniques make neti pot use much easier—and almost enjoyable.

First, you have to play around and make certain you get your head tilted correctly so the water flows through the right pipes, if you will. Otherwise you get that ocean water in the nose feeling or you start to notice the salt water working its way into your throat. Blech.

Second, you have to breath. Breath loudly, slowly, through your mouth. It's relaxing, and it takes your mind off the sensation of the water flowing through your nasal passages. Of all the things I tried, breathing made using the neti pot worthwhile.

Give it a try. Stick with it. Once you get past the initial discomfort and confusion, it's really easy. And it starts to feel good. Trust me, your schnoz will thank you for it.

Still not sure how it works? Lucky you I found this video, complete with soothing music and step-by-step instructions (full disclosure: when I use my neti pot, there isn't any music playing and I am not this serene, which is probably by Conservative Boy makes himself scarce when the snot pot comes out).

(Sorry, it's a bit lame. Maybe My Sister will channel the hours she used to spend making infomercials in front of our bathroom mirror when we were kids and make her own video. Now that would be entertaining.)

If you want to learn more (and buy your own), The Himalayan Institute can hook you up. Or if you think this is all a bit of hippie hoo-hoo, perhaps this WebMD explanation will make you feel better. I learned Oprah's a big fan too. And if Oprah's a fan, well, shouldn't you be too?

1 comment:

Jason said...

Regarding Oprah: No. That said, I'm a fan of the Sinus Rinse version (got mine at Walgreens) where you don't have to tilt your head to the side at just the right angle, you just lean forward over the sink, breathe (with an E), and wait for all of the crazy crap to come out of your nose. I've been using mine (irregularly) for almost a year now, and it definitely kept the allergies down last summer.