Monday, January 4, 2010

Healthy Nose, Healthy Head

Photo found here.

Thanks to the cold weather outside, the warm, dry air inside, and the frequent nose-blowing associated with both, our nostrils really take a beating this time of year. Hopefully you have been fortunate enough to avoid a seasonal cold or allergy-bout, but the many different "bugs" working their way through our offices and schools can leave your sinuses in need of some major TLC. Enter, the Neti Pot.

What's a Neti Pot?

A traditional Neti Pot looks like a small ceramic tea pot with an extra long spout, and is used to pour a lukewarm water and saline solution up one nostril and out the other. The concept may sound bizarre and new-agey, but the Neti Pot has been around since ancient times and has been long considered a practice of yogic tradition. So how does one use a Neti Pot? And more importantly, why?

Let's start with why you might use a Neti Pot. Using a gentle saline and water solution to clean your nasal passages clears out all the gunk that blowing your nose can't. It can help alleviate sinus pressure, sooth irritated skin inside your nose, and enable you to breath easier.

As for how to use a Neti Pot, it takes a little bit of trial and error to get your own personal technique mastered. The video below is a great resource for getting started. If you've never heard of a Neti Pot before or seen somebody use one, it may seem a little scary. However, if you relax and take your time with it, I think you will find the process to be painless and well worth the effort.

A few tips for first time Neti-Potters:

Test the temperature of the water carefully, and always err on the side of caution. You do not want it to be too hot! I find room temperature water or just slightly warmer works most comfortably for me.

Be sure to lean your head forwards when you begin pouring the water. If you don't lean forward, you run the risk of the solution coming down the back of your throat and leaving you with a salty taste in your mouth.

This may seem obvious, but you'll want to position yourself and your Neti Pot over a sink, outside, or for those advanced Potters... in the shower. All that water going in will be coming out!

Take the time to clean your Neti Pot and keep it sanitary. I chose a ceramic pot that can be washed in the dishwasher.

If the Neti Pot seems a little too daunting, there are alternative products on the market that provide the same service. The NeilMed bottle, for example, can be used without tipping one's head to the side (you simply lean forward and squeeze the sides of the plastic bottle to push the water through the nasal passages), which may be easier for some.

Additional Resources

Since I started using a Neti Pot, I feel my head is much clearer and it's like I have a little secret weapon when I start to get sniffly. I love that it's a safe and easy to use product, and has been time-tested. But don't just take my word for it. Here are some additional resources to check out:

Also, I'm no expert. If you have any concerns or questions about whether or not a Neti Pot would work well for you, consider seeing your doctor, wellness expert, or healer of choice first.

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