The practice of Neti (Sanskrit for nasal cleansing) has been used in eastern cultures by practitioners of Ayurveda and Yoga in India for thousands of years and is finally starting to catch on in the western cultures as a way to combat allergy and sinus problems, as well as aid in prevention of viruses that enter the body through the nose and mouth.
What Is Neti?
Neti is taught as one of the 6 preparations to get the body ready for yoga practice.
The most common Neti technique uses warm water mixed with salt to gently cleanse the nasal passages. The mixture is actually very similar to the make up of human tears and it flows through your nose and sinus, washing away pollens, mucus, viruses and bacteria. And a Neti Pot makes this process relatively easy.
Using a Neti Pot every day helps to thin mucus and flush it out of the nose. It has everything to do with the tiny, hair-like structures called cilia that line the inside of the nasal passages and sinuses. They move back and forth to push mucus to the back of the throat or to the nose to run out. People that have chronic sinus problems usually have cilia that move erratically and can no longer thin and move the mucus on their own. Saline solution helps to keep the coordination of the cilia intact so they can keep removing the bacteria, allergens, and other irritants.
Why Does It Help My Immune System?
The common cilia in a average person’s nose contains a build up of environmental and natural irritants that it has a hard time getting rid of. While these irritants continue to stay housed in the sinus cavity the immune system continues to react and fight against the foreign inhabitants. By removing them on a daily basis, the nasal passage is cleared and the immune system can rest, reducing hyperactivity and chronic reactions. This is a much better alternative to taking some kind of anti-histamine, which just turns off the immune response temporarily, but does not remove the source of the problem.
The sinus cavity, nose, and the back of the throat are lined with mucus membranes. Everything that we breathe in, including cold and flu germs, get stuck in the mucus membranes and are supposed to be moved backward toward the back of the throat and into the stomach where they are killed by stomach acids.
But like I mentioned before, sometimes those cilia become erratic and have a hard time moving the viruses and bacteria to where they need to go. Cold and Flu viruses cannot live at normal body temperatures in the beginning. They need to find a nice cozy place in the sinus cavity (which is colder than the rest of the human body) to colonize and become strong. Once they build up their forces, they can move into the back of the throat and begin a full-scale infection!
Using a neti pot with warm saltwater not only flushes out the virus but it introduces a higher temperature to help kill them off as well. Then, the mucus membranes can begin to clear out and have healthy function again. When the mucous membranes are healthy, they harbor the body’s IgA antibodies that can take down the infections naturally.
Before I use the neti pot, I also gargle with the warm saltwater. This not only feels great on the back of my throat, but it removes any of those cold and flu bugs that might be trying to make a home back there.
How Do I Use It?
First: I heat up some water to a nice warm temperature (never use water that is hot to the touch or it will cause damage to your nasal passages). Roughly 8 oz works well.
Second: I mix in my salt. I use a pre-packaged saline salt that is designed for use with nasal rinsing. Table salt should not be used because of the anti-caking additives it contains and sea salt is too harsh on the nasal passages. Most stores carry saline salt that is pre-packed in somewhere around ¼ teaspoon quantities.
Third: I gargle for about 30 seconds to clear out the back of my throat.
Fourth: I tilt my head 45 degrees to one side and pour the solution from the spout of the neti pot into my upper nostril. Breathe normally through your mouth and the solution should pass through your sinus cavity and empty out your lower nostril.
Fifth: I switch and do the same thing with the other nostril so that both sides receive an equal cleansing.
Sixth: I usually wait a few minutes to blow my nose gently so that my sinuses have emptied.
Here are a couple good videos to demonstrate the technique:
I have not had one cold or sinus infection since I have been using this daily for the past 7 months. I also have had dramatically reduced allergies and nasal congestion in that time. I just made it part of my morning routine after breakfast every day… it leaves me feeling clear and ready to start the day.
You can get a neti pot kit anywhere and it usually includes the pot and some saline packets. Even Wal-Mart or Target carries them in their pharmacy areas. They run around $10 and can be just about the best investment you can make in your immune system while you start the SCD Diet. It goes hand in hand to help promote a healthier body and help guide you on the path to intestinal healing.
You have enough to worry about, why not take one more measure to avoid getting sick?
Tell us your stories about the Neti Pot… How has it improved your life?