June 2, 2010

Adventures in Neti Potting

Neti Pot: Useful tool for health and hygiene or personal water-boarding contraption?

Hello Elephants!

Welcome to allergy season!! For many of you this wonderful time of year is filled with stuffy noses and itchy eyes. I am so lucky to be one of those blessed nose-blowing, sneezing few. Each year, I promise myself that I will stop relying on various over-the-counter allergy meds and try something less chemical and more “natural.”

I’ve tried eating tons of honey. Although this method was delicious, it did not work. I kept sneezing and itching.

I’ve tried chugging water and apple cider vinegar. This method was not delicious and did not work. (So gross)

I’ve tried eating bee pollen. This method was not delicious, did not work, and, in fact, made me feel worse. I went into a mildly-serious allergic reaction where my throat swelled up and I got very nauseous. Awesome.

After hearing all the hullabaloo about these Neti pots, I figured I might as well try one out. What’s the worst that could happen?

Neti pots are originally from India, although now you can find them at your local grocery, like I did. They’re known to help with allergies/hay fever and sinus infections, or anything else you may need some “nasal irrigation” for.

To use a nedi pot, you fill it with warm water and a small (approximately 1/4 teaspoon) of non-iodized salt (or you can buy fancy “nedi pot salt”). Then you stick that sucker in your nose, tilt your head and water comes out the other nostril. For an awesome demo, please enjoy this video…

I’ve always been a little weary of neti pots. To  me, they seem like a torture mechanism. I don’t know about you elephants, but generally I don’t enjoy getting water up my nose.

But, like I said, I’m trying to kick the benedryl and still be able to function in society.

So tonight I pulled out my new sea-foam-green neti pot, filled it with the appropriate salt/water mixture and hopped in the shower (I’ve been told it is easiest to neti in the shower). I leaned my head left, smooshed the neti spout into my right nostril and started tipping. At first, I felt like my brain was going to drown. Water kept pouring into my nose, and none was coming out. Then the stream started out the left nostril, and ahhhh release. I have to admit, it felt pretty darn good. The inside of my head felt cleaner than it ever has.

“Deeee-lightful!” I thought as I prepared myself for the left-side hose-down. I inserted the neti spout and tilted my head, just like the right side and started pouring. I felt the same “drowning brain” sensation like before, only it just kept getting worse. I decided to keep pouring, in hopes that maybe I could reach a point of enough pressure to push the water out…

Wrong. Instead of coming out my nose, the water came out my mouth.


Not only do I still feel stuffy from allergies, I know feel like I’ve undergone some sort of water-boarding experiment gone wrong. One side of my nose is happy and clean, and the other is a stuffy mess. I’m unbalanced. And as a Libra, that is just not something I’m OK with.

So I’m writing to you all, dear elephants. Help me!!! Do you have any neti-tips? I’ve tried different head and pot positions, but nothing is working yet. What do I do? I’m ready to give up completely and resign to a life of antihistamines and drowsiness for the next four months. I’m desperate. I’m stuffy. I’m a mess!


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Preston Dieter May 30, 2011 11:35pm

It truly is much better to give than to be given!

Paul Dolinsky Jun 17, 2010 12:36am

I like the comments. Here are a few more. I find that it's good to do some gentle neck rotations first, in both directions before using the neti pot. That's especially helpful, since people tend to use the neti pot fairly soon after waking. I heat the water a little, and get a sense of the right temperature by feeling it with my finger first, then sampling a little on the outside of my nose, first before inhaling the liquid.
I think that regular use of the neti pot really helps my breathing — it's one of the things that really helped me with asthma, another being a breathing technique from the Buteyko method, very simple, deserves it own posting. I've also eaten macrobiotically for a long time, and that's also very cleansing to the body. Hope that folks give the neti pot a try, if they haven't used it before.

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Kelsi Coia

Kelsi is a geography nerd who researches tourism and cowboys. She is currently halfway through a master’s program at Wageningen University.