Using a Neti Pot to Combat Seasonal Allergies and Colds

Not.

Where I live in Texas, it’s pretty normal in the springtime for everyone to walk around sneezing, blowing their nose, and just generally feeling like they’ve been attacked by a gigantic pollen cloud.

I am no exception. Living like this gets very old after awhile, and it drives you to consider taking some drastic measures – something that heretofore would have seemed unthinkable…

Enter the Neti Pot.

Every time I went to the wellness section at the store, searching for a remedy to make me feel human again, an employee would suggest the Neti Pot.

It was offered as a good solution so many times that I began to suspect they were all working on some sort of Neti Pot commission. I would shudder, and say, “Uh, well, what are some other options?” Until finally, finally, I was so desperate that I decided to give it a shot. And guess what? It works! And it’s not as weird as I thought it would be – really.

So, you may be wondering, “What is a Neti Pot?”

A Neti Pot is a tool designed to help you rinse out your nasal passages. It’s a little pot (pictured below) that looks somewhat like a miniature teapot. You fill the pot with a cup of warm water and a quarter teaspoon of salt.

Then you (and here comes the weird part) tilt your head to one side, raise the spout to the nostril on the higher side, and slowly pour the warm salt water into your nose. Yes, that’s correct – you pour water into your nose. The water will run out the other nostril, rinsing out dust, pollen, and other allergens along with it. Then you repeat on the other side.

Photo by Jacqueline Raposo

I tried it first in the shower (on the advice of the very nice lady at the store) knowing it might be messy, which it was. But I soon got the hang of it so that I can now do it over the bathroom sink without any trouble. After the first time, I immediately felt better than I had in months! I’m not kidding. My sinuses were so clear; it was fabulous. I have used it daily since then, and I am very much convinced that the Neti Pot will be a permanent part of my life from now on, or at least during allergy season.

I have never liked using allergy medication or cold medicine. For one thing, I think it’s best to avoid introducing unnecessary drugs into our system. If there is a natural remedy, I will almost always try that first. And when I have a cold, I feel like cold medicine just makes it worse; it keeps the yuckiness inside of me that really just needs to get out of me! The Neti Pot gets it OUT. I wish I hadn’t resisted it for so long.

Here is a video that shows the Neti Pot in action. The video is produced by one particular brand, but there are many brands out there. Check your local health food store or pharmacy, or you can also buy them from many places online, including Amazon. It’s also much less expensive than allergy medicine, making it a great frugal choice.

Photo by Claire Powers

Important Tips:

• Make sure you don’t omit the salt.  It sounds counterintuitive, but without adding the salt, it will burn your nasal passages when you use the Neti Pot.
• Conversely, don’t use too much salt – stick with the proportions recommended by your brand of Neti Pot.
• Many Neti Pot brands will sell their own salt and while that’s convenient, it’s expensive.  You don’t have to use theirs; I use a simple and inexpensive sea salt.

Have you discovered the magic of the Neti Pot? Share your experiences and questions here!

About Katie

Katie loves to learn about natural living, and believes that caring for the earth and caring for yourself don't have to be mutually exclusive. She loves to help other people understand how they can both contribute to and benefit from a switch to a more natural and organic lifestyle. She is a stay-at-home mom and a native Texas girl, happily married to her best friend.

Comments

  1. I love my Nettie Pot! I won’t go away from home (for a trip) without it! It has been a life-saver for my family!
    .-= Pam’s last blog: The Apron – To Wear or Not to Wear? That is the question. =-.

  2. I use one too! It really works.

    If I have a cold or sinus infection, I’ll put about 1/2 teaspoon of colloidal silver in with the salt. It really seems to help clear everything up.
    .-= Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home’s last blog: Saying Hi… =-.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I love my neti pot! I don’t have to use it on a regular basis anymore, but when it’s really windy, I’ve mowed the yard or when I feel like I’m getting sick, it’s a lifesaver……Funky at first, but so necessary!

  4. I’ve been reading about certain herbal teas and green tea having antihistamine qualities that might help as well. I usually drink chamomile, but just started drinking green tea again. My seasonal allergies (so far) have been pretty minimal, but they usually get worse in June, so we’ll see (fingers crossed).
    .-= ~Heather’s last blog: Mushrooms for 2009 =-.

    • I just wanted to note for any of those with ragweed allergies, chamomile is part of the same plant family, so avoid it if you have those allergies.

  5. I have to ask…is there any risk of drowning? My boyfriend’s mother said she used to use one until the day when the water went the wrong way.

    • Kara, I’m so sorry but I’m really giggling over this question… That’s one I’ve never heard before! :) I really don’t think there is any risk of drowning. I think the worst that could happen is you end up swallowing it – or, I suppose it could go “down the wrong pipe” and you cough for awhile, but that’s exactly the same risk as drinking a a beverage! I’m not sure what she means by “the wrong way” – do you know?

      • I assumed she meant into her lungs when she said the wrong way, but I could be wrong. I mean it’s supposed to come out the other side of the nose, so I’d think the only other direction would be into the body, right?

        • If you don’t tilt forward enough the water will run down your throat but after a few tries you figure out exactly how much to tilt – pretty easy.

  6. Brooke Kingston says:

    I’ve used my Neti pot for years. It’s especially wonderful during pregnancy when one’s nose gets particularly clogged for no other reason than that your mucus membranes are working overtime! It helps me breath better at night when I’d otherwise feel like a beached whale with a bad head cold! ;)

  7. Catherine says:

    Oh it’s good to hear more about this. My mother-in-law swears by hers – using it finally put an end to years of constant sinus infections. But I must confess, being as klutzy as I am, I’m terrified of drowning myself too!

  8. Many people, including our family practitioner, have suggested neti pots to me …. but I can’t get past my initial weirdness about it – I hate the feeling of water in my nose or the feeling of something coming out my nose (like laughing so hard your drink comes out your nose) ;-)

    However, this Spring has been HORRID so far as far as my allergies and I think I’m desperate enough to try just about anything to get relief at this point.

    Timely post for me, Katie – thank you!
    .-= Kara’s last blog: It’s An Eco Date! Earth Friendly Days to Mark on Your Calendar =-.

    • I know, that’s exactly how I was, Kara! I hate those things, too. But honestly, it is so worth it, and now it doesn’t even phase me. Try it, try it! :)

  9. And, hey! Another use for my new sea salt ;-)
    .-= Kara’s last blog: It’s An Eco Date! Earth Friendly Days to Mark on Your Calendar =-.

  10. My husband is a huge fan of the Neti Pot. Since we moved back to this city four plus years ago, his allergies have diminished significantly due to assiduous use of the pot. I’m a Neti Pot user on training wheels, since I only recently developed allergies. I’m just getting over the hump, not feeling quite so much like I’m drowning!
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: The Joy of Tinkering =-.

  11. I love the Neti Pot! I have horrible allergies and just started immunotherapy, which will hopefully help, but the Neti Pot really helps me get relief from that horrible sinus pressure :)
    .-= Amanda’s last blog: Redeeming an ugly kitchen =-.

  12. We have one and dh used it with a horrible cold/sinus infection he had. I had heard so m any great things about it. He LOVED it! I couldn’t bring myself to use it though. LOL!
    .-= Sherry’s last blog: Enjoying A Family Walk =-.

  13. Wow, look at the response! We also live in the same area of Texas – my husband and I have each been here about 20 years – and my daughter and husband have horrible allergies (I’ve somehow managed to get by with only an occasional stint of sniffles, and mostly very mild issues.) My husband has always used those blue medical bulb syringes (he brings them home when they are throwing them away b/c of “expiring,” despite still being usable for years more) for the same purpose as the neti pot and also swears by it. I’ve always thought he was crazy, but I suppose if I ever develop worse allergies like everyone else around here, I might have to give it a shot too!

  14. I am quite the convert to the neti pot, I find it increases mental clarity too, quite amazing! The neti pot is part of my daily routine now. It really is an extraordinarily simple thing that works beautifully.

  15. I LOVE my neti pot. I don’t use the tea pot version I have this one. I love it. I have chronic sinuitus with awful allergies and asthma and my neti pot does the trick. I’m not at the point that I can go off my meds but with my neti pot they work so much better.
    .-= LaToya’s last blog: I’m a Diva! =-.

  16. My neti pot has been a God/dess send! For years I suffered MULTIPLE sinus/allergy migraines each spring. They would begin with a blind spot in my vision. Within a minute or two the jagged half circles of lights would come and my vision would gray out so that I only could see the lights. Within minutes of that, the pain would hit. Sharp, hard, fast and intense. It would take 4 days or more to even begin to recover at any recognizable level of humanity. Then I discovered the neti pot. I swear, without it I would have long since gone insane from these migraines. With the neti pot, I was down to having one, MAYBE two migraines per season. Even one alone is horrible enough. But to be reduced to only 1 or 2 per season was a blessing. This year, I added nettle tea to my allergy fighting repertoire. I’d read about it in several sources. Very nutritious and just LOADED with natural anti-histamines. (I can’t take OTC or prescription allergy meds. Believe me, I’ve tried them all with horrible side-effects.) Between the nettle tea (purchased in the bulk section at my local health food store) and the neti pot, so far this season (Pollen seasons is already WELL underway in Florida. You can write in the pollen just like in the pictures above!) I have yet to have a single headache much less a full blown migraine AND I’ve had the windows open day and night for weeks now! Oh I do get stuffy headed and feel a little pressure but compared to the nightmare allergy season usually is, that’s child’s play! Anytime the stuffiness comes, I just make a cup of nettle tea and it’s gone in a short time. (A word of warning…nettle tea makes you pee a LOT! LOL)
    .-= Jenna Ann’s last blog: Photos of the Week: People…The girls =-.

  17. A lot of people are mentioning use for seasonal allergies; I use mine constantly throughout the year to ward off colds and to help illness pass more quickly! When I use the neti pot, I never get to the “I want to die from sinus pressure!” stage of a cold, plus the whole thing is over so much more quickly! I also start using my neti pot if my kids come down with something; I figure it can’t hurt to wash out any germs that I’m getting from them–I really believe this preventative measure helps! Since I began using a neti pot, I haven’t had any colds that lasted longer than a couple of days, plus I’ve missed out on a lot of illnesses that the rest of my family caught (oh, how I wish there were child versions of the neti pot!)
    .-= Rachael’s last blog: Foodie Friday: Dad’s whole-wheat waffles =-.

  18. Does anyone have any ideas for how to get a preschooler to do this or is there something similar that might be easier? My daughter has terrible seasonal allergies and I would love to see if this could get her off some of her medicine. Thoughts?? I can already tell you she will NOT do the Neti pot.

  19. My “neti pot” is actually a squeeze bottle. (Truthfully, it’s the perineum bottle I got after giving birth). I used it in a fit of desperation during a particularly painful sinus infection when I was stuck at home with no vehicle. It’s fabulous (and was free).
    .-= Sarah’s last blog: He’s laughing with us, not at us =-.

  20. Using neti pot is one of those things I believed to be just one of our “little family secrets” that I’ve turned on other friends too. I guess our secret is out! :)

  21. how much salt do you use? I can’t seem to get the concentration right, so I’ve been buying those ridiculously expensive (and wasteful packaging) packets. I tried 1/4 teaspoon of 1/2 baking soda, 1/2 salt in 240ml of water, but it stung.

    • Sandy, I follow the instructions that came with my neti pot. I’m not sure how much water it holds but I am supposed to use a 1/2 tsp of salt. Don’t use baking soda, just salt – a pure salt like sea salt without iodine is best.

  22. Hi Sandy, If you’re not using the premixed packets, here’s a good recipe to follow: Mix a slightly heaping 1/4 teaspoon of pure salt with 8 ounces of lukewarm pure water. As Katie mentions, you need to be careful on the salt though. It shouldn’t have iodine or anti-caking agents because those can irritate your nasal passages. And it helps if the water is extra-pure too, like filtered, pre-boiled, or even distilled.

  23. Perhaps one of the enthusiasts on the site can help. I tried it and no water came out the other side. I’m not really sure where it went because it didn’t go down my throat either (at least from what I noticed). I really want this to work because I hate allergy meds. Thanks!!

  24. You neti pot must meet these requirements

    Non fragile as in learning stages it slips out of hand
    Must have Capacity of more than 400 ml water
    Must not have small pores as Small pores are difficult to clean.
    Must be light weight for holding purposes
    Must have cone tip for plugging in nostril

  25. The salt that came with the Neti pot worked fine. Then I tried using 1/2 teaspoon of pure NON-iodized sea salt (i.e., without caking agents). It burned my nose so much that my nose closed and the water woldn’t flow through. Then I tried 1/4 teaspoon with the same effect. Then just a pinch of sea salt and it still burned. Does anyone know why?

  26. We are currently offering a Neti Pot promotion. 50% off the Himalayan Institute Eco Neti Pot starter kit as featured on Oprah. http://www.mindbodydeals.com/deal/half-off-eco-neti-kit/

  27. I had to giggle about the drowning questions also.
    I swear by mine and recommended it to my brother. He asked how do you use it without feeling like you are being water boarded. He’s a bit of a drama queen. The thing to remember is to breathe through your mouth while using it. Just keep your mouth open! It is tricky at first, but if you focus on breathing, you will get the hang of it

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