Monday, May 05, 2008

Irrigate your schnozz.

I don't remember where I first heard about neti pots, but I started using one about 10 years ago for both prevention and treatment of upper respiratory crud. I may have heard about them from another singer. Singers loooooove neti pots, since we like our respiratory tracts clear and primed for optimal performance.

Mine looks like this:

It is the entry-level model you're likely to find at your local food co-op, hippie store, or Whole Foods. You can also order them from any number of internet stores.

The basic function of a neti pot is to irrigate your nasal passages with delicious salt water in order to keep things moving along, thereby preventing irritation and infection from taking hold. It's especially useful if you have allergies, sinus problems, the delightfully-named post-nasal drip, or are waging war against invading virus or infection. So basically, that means all of yous.

This is the instructional video for the neti pot, a work of film that is notable for its dead-eyed neti practitioner. It's particularly spooky with the sound off, which is the only way I've watched it. Not surprisingly, there are LOADS of neti pot videos on youtube, so if you are not sure you're doing it right OR you simply would enjoy watching a bearded comic book artist flush his nose with various liquids including coffee and bourbon, please be my guest. (It's the "Jackass" of neti pot videos.)

To harness the power of the neti pot, fill it with warm water and mix a fat 1/4 tsp of non-iodized salt (I use pickling/canning salt) into it. When it's all dissolved, I taste it to make sure the water is salty enough. Too little salt and the shit will BURN. Too much and ditto. Anyway, tilt your head to the left, plug the pot into your right nostril, and let gravity do the work. When the water has run its course, blow gently to clear things up, and repeat on the left side with a new tank of salt water.

Also, be sure you are standing over a sink.

Under normal circumstances, you will blow out mostly clear and innocuous stuff and you will feel light and cleansed. If you're on the downside of a cold, like I am, you will blow out all the sticky noxious stuff that is hanging around up in your grill, clinging to your sinuses, and refusing to be blown out into a kleenex. It is a totally gratifying process, one I could probably be doing 3 times a day with copious results each time.

There are simple yoga stretches you can (and should) use to make sure all the water is out. You don't want water sitting around in your nose.

There were years when I did this every single day. More recently I've felt like I cannot possibly add another thing to my pre-bedtime routine; it's hard enough to take an extra minute for flossing. However, you can bet that if I had any chronic schnozz problem I would be doing this on the regular. In conclusion: neti pots are rad. Clear nasal passages: radder still. Taking control of your respiratory health: raddest of all.


  1. may i add that if you start to feel like you are drowning a lil bit or taste salt water in the back of your throat, you're doing it right!!

  2. Gotta agree with you there. Thanks to the neti pot, my asthma is almost completely under control without drugs. And even when I have a cold, my nose rarely gets stuffed up. Given the low cost to high improvement of quality of life, it's a no-brainer.

  3. Oh God... I just... I just CAN'T. I'm sorry.

  4. I feel like I should be doing this, but I don't know if I can. My eyes water just thinking about it... Do you get used to it?

  5. I'm glad that I'm not the only neti pot freak out there. I heart my neti pot. Perhaps I am still a freak?

  6. I had no idea people were going to get fired up about this one! Woohoo nasal irrigation! Milk&honey (and everyone else), I don't remember having a strong reaction to this, even when I first started. I suppose claustrophobes and hydrophobes might not want to do this, but they probably had heart attacks reading my entry anyway. If the salt content is right, you seriously shouldn't feel anything much except a sort of woosh of water and then a trickle (or stream).

  7. Hmmm, I tried this once when I was sick and maybe I didn't get all of the water out. I think I felt more congested and gross.

    Although now I wonder if it would help my allergies, which are just starting up.

  8. sweet! I am going to look for one and hope it cures my asthma which I was just told is really allergies and not asthma at all.

    Thanks for the review!

  9. I second the drowning feeling. It definitely does help with the nasty colds, but as a slight claustrophobe, it's not my favorite remedy in the world. That being said, I always pull it out when colds come around...

  10. I have a friend who swears by her neti. It makes my eyes water just to read about it!

  11. I love all of your healthy advice delivered with lingo such as like "grill" and "radness."