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The term Neti pot may well draw a blank stare, but the contraptions are becoming increasingly popular. These little pots - which look like a cross between a small watering can and Aladdin’s lamp - have been used with great success to treat a number of chronic sinus problems.
Neti pots originated as part of a yoga technique called Jala Neti and have been around for centuries. Jala Neti means water cleansing and involves a practitioner rinsing out the nasal cavity with (usually salted) water. Although still relatively obscure in the West, it is regularly used in India and other regions in South-East Asia.
Nasal irrigation is rapidly becoming more recognised in the West, and Neti pots are the most popular way. Flushing out the nasal cavity with saline solution has been recommended to patients who have undergone sinus surgery for some time in order to speed the healing process and prevent crusting.
But many people with chronic sinus problems such as bacterial infections and allergies use Neti pots to ease congestion and reduce the pressure from inflamed sinuses. Some also think that the regular use of a Neti pot can help improve breathing problems and reduce the average length of time people suffer from a common cold.
Although the benefits aren’t proven, there is anecdotal evidence that Neti pots can also improve vision, taste and and smell due to the connectivity of the sinus cavity.
There is a bit of a nak to using a Neti pot, but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. The pot needs to be filled with a salt-water solution - most pots will come with the correct measurement guidelines - and some practitioners advise using boiled and cooled water to get rid of bacteria.
With a full pot, hold your head over the sink and keeping your face forward, tilt your head to one side by about 45 degrees. Insert the spout in the uppermost nostril and pour downwards, towards the lower nostril. The fluid should flow through the nasal cavity and out of the lower nostril. Spit out any water that runs into your mouth and blow your nose afterwards. Then repeat the whole process for the other nostril.