How To Use A Neti Pot: A Step By Step Guide

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How To Use A Neti Pot?

The neti pot is a home remedy for congested sinuses that involves nasal irrigation. Nasal irrigation refers to the process of instilling saline solution into one nostril and allowing it to drain out of the other nostril, effectively bathing the nasal cavity. 

When this device is used correctly, the treatment helps eliminate mucus and temporarily restores ease of breathing. However, The United States Food and Drud Administration (FDA) warns that if this device is used incorrectly, users run the risk of serious infections – with potentially fatal consequences.

Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to learn how to use a neti pot safely and correctly before you attempt this Ayurvedic technique at home.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • What Is a Neti Pot?
  • 7 Neti Pot Health Benefits
  • What Are the Risks of a Neti Pot?
  • How To Use a Neti Pot: 6 Steps
  • How To Make Your Own Neti Pot Saline Solution

If you’re interested in providing some natural relief to a stuffy nose in less than 5 minutes – keep reading!

a woman demonstrating how to use a neti pot and pouring water in her nose

What is a Neti Pot?

The earliest record of nasal irrigation comes from the practice of Ayurveda, a system of medicine rooted in ancient India. Translated literally, Ayurveda means “the Science of Life.” The name is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘Ayu’, meaning Life, and ‘Veda’, meaning Knowledge.

Ayurveda is an alternative approach to health that emphasizes bringing balance to the mind and body and holistic wellness. As such, it encompasses medicine, diet, psychology, yoga, massage and more. 

Neti is sanskrit for “nasal cleansing”, and this device does just that. Neti pots are small, ceramic, teapot-looking devices that help a person pour a saltwater solution into their nasal cavity.

One of the main purposes of nasal irrigation is to relieve symptoms of sinus congestion. Neti pots help achieve this end by keeping the mucus membranes moist and flushing the sinuses of any irritants or materials causing a blockage.

However, it is vital to follow instructions carefully.

Although most tap water is fine for drinking, it is not safe for irrigating your nose. Users must ensure that the liquid is a dedicated saline nasal rinse. Do not use tap water or any form of unsterilized liquid.

NB: If you suffer from a weakened immune system, always consult your doctor or a healthcare professional before using any nasal irrigation systems.

a white neti pot sitting on a wooden chopping board next to a pot of salt

7 Neti Pot Health benefits

The neti pot has a number of powerful health benefits. Several studies have proved that saline nasal irrigation is an effective management strategy for a wide variety of sinonasal conditions.

Best yet, they are easy to use and cheap to buy. Hopefully you’ll be tempted to pick one up for yourself after learning about their benefits, if you haven’t already!

#1 Reduces common cold symptoms

As we all know, one of the most frustrating symptoms of the common cold is the snotty, stuffy, blocked nose – otherwise known as nasal congestion. To top it all off, this congestion can cause sinus pain, headaches, and facial pain.

Using a neti pot thins the mucus in your nose and helps it to drain easier, relieving you of multiple symptoms at once.

#2 Reduces congestion

Allergens and environmental toxins cause irritate and pollute your nasal passages. Your body’s natural response to this is to produce large volumes of mucus in order to wash away these irritants, which can lead to blocked nasal passages. In some cases, this can lead to sinus infection.

A neti pot allows you to gently wash irritants away and also thins out the mucus in your nasal passages, thus reducing congestion.

a white neti pot with the OM symbol in front of a blue towel

#3 Reduces Allergy Symptoms

Performing nasal irrigation through use of a neti pot helps wash away pollen, irritants and allergens from your nasal passages. It also thins out the mucus your body has overproduced as a natural defence, thus reducing both your allergy symptoms and any accompanying congestion.

#4 Snoring relief

Nasal congestion is one of the main contributing factors to snoring. Using a neti pot can help clear your nasal passages and improve ease of breathing. Your loved ones will thank you for a night of peace and quiet!

#5 Improves sinonasal conditions

Research has demonstrated that using a neti pot can significantly improve symptoms of chronic sinusitis and other sinonasal conditions. One study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed that patients suffering from chronic sinus infections had significantly improved symptoms after six months. 

#6 Reduces occurrence of nosebleeds

If you suffer from regular nosebleeds, it could be because your nasal passages have become too dry. Nasal irrigation treatment can help keep the membranes moist and less likely to allow for bleeding to occur.

However, long-term overuse of a neti pot reduces the mucosal lining of the nose too much, making you vulnerable to infection. Use in moderation!

a woman sitting on a red yoga mat mixing salt into her neti pot

#7 Reduces reliance on medication

Using a neti pot to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms or common cold symptoms can stop you depending on over-the-counter medication.

Decongestants often come with a whole host of side-effects, including drowsiness, increased blood pressure and increased heart rate. They can be harmful if taken alongside certain medications, such as antidepressants.

What are the risks of a neti pot?

The FDA warns that ‘improper use of these neti pots and other nasal irrigation devices can increase your risk of infection.’

Although it is safe to drink tap water, tap water is dangerous to use as a nasal rinse.

This is because it is untreated and can contain organisms such as harmful bacteria and protozoa. These are safe to swallow because your stomach acid quickly kills them, but in your nasal passages, these organisms can survive and cause serious infections.

Using tap water as a nasal rinse can has been known to cause amoebic encephalitis a rare but lethal central nervous system infection caused by amoebae (very small germs) found in freshwater, lakes, and rivers.

Naegleria fowleri is a parasitic ameba found in various bodies of water around the world. It is sometimes present in pipes connected to tap water.

When this ameba enters the nasal passages, it can travel to the brain and cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which destroys brain tissue and is mainly fatal. In fact, the death rate for PAM is above 90%, despite antimicrobial therapy.

With this in mind, it is critical to use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water for nasal irrigation.

Please note that you cannot contract PAM by drinking contaminated water – only through using it as a nasal rinse!

a purple neti pot next to cotton buds

How to use a neti pot: 6 Steps

The whole process should take less than 5 minutes, so there’s no need to worry about it being a big obligation in terms of time. We recommend leaning over a sink when performing this nasal rinse to avoid getting water on your clothes – although this might be unavoidable the first few times!

How to correctly use a neti pot in 6 steps:

Step 1

Fill your neti pot with saline solution and lean over a sink.

Step 2

Tilt the head to one side so that the forehead and chin are at approximately the same level. This prevents the sterile water or saline solution from getting into the mouth.

Step 3

From this point on you should breathe through your mouth. Breathing through your nose will lead some painful water inhalation!

Step 4

Place the spout into the upper nostril.

Step 5

Slowly pour the solution so that it drains through the lower nostril.

Step 6

Clear your nostrils by blowing your nose and perform steps 1-6 again on the other side.

Step 7

Clean your neti pot thoroughly. In order to prevent contamination and infection, neti pots must be cleaned before and after each use and never shared. Think of it like a toothbrush!

If your neti pot is dish-washer safe, you can put it through the dishwasher every so often.

Some people find it useful to watch a demonstration first, so feel free to check out the handy video below:

You’ll notice that in the video above, Ashley makes her solution using a pre-packaged neti-salt mix. However, this solution is easy and affordable to make at home using basic cupboard ingredients.

make your own neti pot water solution: 3 Steps

Plain tap water not only carries risk of contamination, but it can also irritate your nose. The saline solution allows the water to pass through delicate nasal membranes with minimal burning or irritation.

Follow these 3 steps carefully to make your own neti-pot water solution:

Step 1

Boil 16 ounces of distilled water.

Step 2

Add 1 teaspoon of salt – we recommend kosher, pickling, Epsom, or canning – to your water. The New York Sinus Center discourages the use of table salt or iodized salt.

Let the water cool to a lukewarm temperature.

Step 3

Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to your cup and stir thoroughly. There you have it – your own neti pot solution!

Final Thoughts

Neti pots are an effective and natural way to relieve nasal congestion and allergies – just make sure to use sterile water and don’t use them too frequently. 

Dosha Quiz | Discover My Ayurvedic Body Type

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Knowing your dosha can provide a window into your inner world. 

Whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, or a combination of all three, you'll receive tailored information on your unique dosha composition at the end of the quiz. 

Answer each question instinctively, try not to overthink! 

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Lola is an Ayurveda practitioner based in London with a passion for yoga, nature and people.

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