Encouraged by Brenda at Grounding Thru The Sit Bones and Michelle at Find Your Balance I was reminded if I'm going to talk the talk, I better walk the walk. I posted an earlier article on ayurvedic health remedies for the Spring and purposefully left out the Neti pot. I didn't leave it out because I think its ineffective as a health regime but because I am a yellow bellied chicken liver wimp. I knew if I made this suggestion I would have to pull out my own little neti pot (see above) and use it. Common sense finally prevailed. I warmed one cup of water with 1/4 tsp of sea salt and set to work. Why I didn't do this sooner is just plain stupidity. My allergies have been kicking my ass. Waking up with headaches and an ache in my left eye has left me surly and sluggish. May 2nd was a nice warm day to reacquaint myself with this little health practice and when finished, I instantly felt better.
Learning to Neti was part of the curriculum in India. At the time we were in the middle of the Monsoon season and the last thing I wanted to do was stand in the pouring rain and add more water to my already waterlogged body. We were instructed and graded and basically you kept at it till you did it properly. I'm grateful now, but at the time I just wanted to get out of the cold and rain.
Nasal irrigation or nasal lavage is the personal hygiene practice in which the nasal cavity is washed to flush out excess mucus and debris from the nose and sinuses. It has been practised in India for centuries as one of the disciplines of yoga. Some clinical tests have shown that this practice is safe and beneficial with no significant side effects. If you suffer from certain health problems, it is advised that you seek experienced guidance before using a neti pot. These problems include: asthma, high blood pressure, migraines, chronic nose bleeds, known nasal blockages (polyps, deviated septum, etc), chronic sinusitis, and frequent ear/nose/throat infections.
Flushing the nasal cavity with salt water is believed to promote mucociliary clearance by moisturizing the nasal cavity and removing encrusted material, (although there is no clear evidence to support this.) The flow of salt water through the nasal passage flushes out dirt, airborne allergens (dust and pollen), pollutants and bacteria-filled mucus.
Salt water flushing also loosens and thins the mucus, making it easier to expel. Without this build up of mucus, the tiny cilia, or hairs in the nasal passage are able to function more efficiently, pushing excess mucus either to the back of the throat or to the nose to be expelled.
A simple yet effective technique is to pour salt water solution into one nostril and let it run out through the other while the mouth is kept open to breathe, using gravity as an aid. This is an old Ayurvedic technique known as jala neti, and the container used to administer the saline is called a neti pot. (Neti is Sanskrit for "nasal cleansing.") A neti pot can be obtained at any number of stores. The neti pot I was given in India is identical to one available at Walgreen's for $7.95. Individual preference will decide how often someone neti's. Nasal irrigation can be administered daily, seasonally or yearly.
The following is a brief but complete instruction on how to Neti:
Be well, breath deeply and happy Spring!