The jala neti, or nasal wash, is an old yogic technique used to irrigate the nasal passages and sinuses and rid them of extra mucus, allergens, and germs. Nasal washing has proven to be effective in the treatment of chronic sinonasal symptoms. While the technique is very old, it has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, as research has shown daily saline nasal irrigation decreases sinus symptoms and medication use in patients with frequent sinusitis and improves quality of life (Rabago D. Et al., 2006).
Moistening, Cleansing, Healing of the Nasal Passages
Many doctors today recommend their patients use a saline nasal spray for the moistening and cleansing of the nasal passages. They often refer patients to their local drugstore or pharmacy for purchase of these products. It is our belief that over-the-counter products are unnecessary, costly, and less effective than the use of a good, old-fashioned neti pot, now easily available online or at your local wellness store. A neti pot is typically made of glass, metal, ceramic, or heavy plastic. It looks like a small, squatty watering can with a long, narrow spout that fits inside the nostril.
The basic premise of nasal irrigation using a neti pot is for saline water to travel in one nostril and out the other (with the more adept practitioner, the water can exit out of the mouth). Each of us has probably experienced the discomfort of accidentally snorting water from the pool or bathtub, which leaves our noses in a burning or painful stupor and causes our eyes to water uncontrollably. Thankfully, the nasal wash feels nothing like this. While the process may sound intimidating, within a few short days you can become a neti pot pro and wow all your friends at your next dinner party with your amazing water breathing feat.
Over time, you will find your nasal wash becomes a regular part of your day and without it, your snout will just not feel quite right. We recommend you use your neti pot every single day as part of your bathing or shower ritual.
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Simple Directions for your Daily Nasal Cleanse
Many folks go to extravagant lengths to buy special salts, solutions, or drops for their neti pot. We prefer to keep it pure and simple, using the following technique:
While in the shower, fill your neti pot with warm water from your shower head or tap.
Add uniodized salt, as directed by the manufacturer of your neti pot. Uniodized salt is basically pure salt without the addition of iodine. It can be easily found in your grocery store and is usually priced under a dollar for a large tub. Typically speaking, the perfect water to salt ratio is 3/4 teaspoon of salt to 16 ounces of water. Since neti pots vary in size, we recommend you use the salt/water ratio as recommended by the manufacturer of your neti pot, or get a gallon of distilled water and add salt, using the ratio prescribed above. You will find that over time, once you get a feel for your neti pot, you will simply be able to fill your pot with tap water, and estimate your salt usage with your fingers.
Tami's Neti Story
Before I left my job in advertising I was suffering from chronic sinus infections. I don't know whether I was so stressed that my immune system was compromised at the time, or whether I was never really able to get rid of one infection which, ultimately, led to the next. What I do know is that I couldn't breathe, I had constant sinus pain, and I felt absolutely miserable; it was like a bad cold that never went away.
I had made several trips to the doctor's office and went through several rounds of antibiotics and even steroids to help reduce the swelling in the sinus cavities. I would get better for a short amount of time and then the infection would reoccur. In desperation, I went to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, who did a CT scan of my sinuses. He called me in for a consultation and said that every single one of my sinuses had scar tissue and damage, which meant that I would need surgery if I was ever going to feel better.
Before scheduling the surgery he suggested I go on a 30-day course of antibiotics. During this time, I decided to try the ancient yoga tradition of sinus washing.
I bought a neti pot, some uniodized salt, and set to work with my nose bidet in a last-ditch effort to save myself from surgery. I used the neti pot every single day. Miraculously, I started feeling better. The long-term course of antibiotics combined with the neti pot helped me avoid surgery. In the 10 years since that time, I have had only one sinus infection. In fact, the daily use of my neti pot has lessened the symptoms of seasonal allergies and makes recovery time from the common cold and other illnesses quite speedy.
There have been times when it has been nearly impossible to use the neti. During bad colds or times when nasal passages are inflamed, it is very challenging to get water through them. I stick with it, though. Just getting water into the nose can be a very soothing experience when you aren't feeling your best. I have been using the neti pot daily for over a decade now and am convinced it has been an inexpensive, pure, and easy way for me to avoid surgery, recover more quickly from illness, and keep me feeling healthy. It is one of the best investments you can make in your holistic health.
©2010 by Tamara Quinn, Elisabeth Heller.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Findhorn Press.
www.findhornpress.com. All Rights Reserved.
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
The Infertility Cleanse: Detox, Diet and Dharma for Fertility
by Tami Quinn, Beth Heller.
Women who are trying to conceive will find a holistic approach in this hands-on manual. Step-by-step guidelines help implement a three-part program—of yoga, hypoallergenic and anti-inflammatory nutrition, and stress-reduction techniques—to cleanse the body, mind, and spirit in preparation for pregnancy. Also based on new clinical research that suggests that gut health, chronic inflammation, and environmental toxins may be root causes of infertility, this important book offers all women a natural, holistic approach to readying the womb for a child.
About the Authors
Tamara Quinn and Elisabeth Heller, M.S. are registered yoga instructors. They are the cofounders and codirectors of Pulling Down the Moon, Inc., Integrative Care for Fertility (ICF™), a revolutionary holistic fertility center that has changed the standard of care for women experiencing infertility. They are also the coauthors of Fully Fertile.
Tami was called to this work after a 14-year career in the corporate world. Struggling to find balance between career and family, Tami turned to yoga and discovered ancient healing techniques that not only helped with her stress, but also provided tools to help live a more balanced life. Tami has a Bachelor of Science degree; is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Beth earned her Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics in 1999 and prior to founding PDtM, she spent four years working as a Nutrition Researcher for the Women’s Walking Program, a large National Institutes of Health-funded study that examined the impact of walking exercise on the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of menopausal women. She entered yoga teacher training at Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago where she researched and wrote her thesis in 2001 on yoga practices to restore fertility. Beth is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. She teaches yoga in classes and in one-on-one instruction throughout the Chicago-land area and is a creator, co-director and teacher for Pulling Down the Moon, Yoga for Fertility.