Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on May 04, 2012
Anna C. Kelly, MD. Anesthesiologist, Acupuncturist, Metro Acupuncture. Mark Lewinter, L. Ac. Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. Jordan S. Josephson, MD. Endoscopic Sinus Surgeon. WebMD Medical Reference: Neti Pots.
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Narrator: Whenever Phara Brown begins to get congested, she immediately turns to a centuries old method of clearing her sinuses: the neti pot.
Phara Brown, Sinus Sufferer: At first I was a little hesitant because of the whole idea of using neti pot or using something you stick up your nose to drain out the other end, but it actually works.
Narrator: How did you overcome your reluctance?
Phara Brown, Sinus Sufferer: I wanted to breathe. I wanted to breathe through my nose and congestion is an awful thing.
Jordan Josephson, MD, Endoscopic Sinus Specialist: If you're taking a showering, you are showing your nose right?
Narrator: Dr. Jordan Josephson is an endoscopic sinus specialist and author of the book Sinus Relief Now. He recommends the neti pot to patients without hesitation.
Jordan Josephson, MD, Endoscopic Sinus Specialist: You fill it up with saline and you actually irrigate your sinuses and your nose out with it. It's great for sinus problems. It's great for allergies. It's great for cough. It washes all the pollution out of your nose, the infection out of your nose, and whatever you're allergic to that may be in your nose, it'll wash that out as well.
Narrator: Side effects? Oh, you mean the feeling of drowning you can get if you don't do it properly?
Anna Kelly, MD, Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine: I'll say Can you tell my nasal is breathing is separated from my mouth breathing, you know, because you could hear the way I'm talking is different right? and they'll say Yeah yeah, and I'll say Do that, and some people can quite easily breathe through the mouth and separate the nasal passages, and other people say I don't know what you're talking about. I'm afraid to use it.
Narrator: Tip One: Practice mouth breathing before using the neti pot.
Anna Kelly, MD, Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine: If the salt concentration is too high there can be some burning of the tissue.
Narrator: Tip Two: Use only warm distilled or pre-boiled water and follow non-iodized salt instructions carefully.
Anna Kelly, MD, Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine: It tells you to use a heaping quarter teaspoon, and so thinking that more is better, you know, some patients have put in two heaping quarter teaspoons, and there's been some burning.
Narrator: Tip Three: If you add an herbal wash to the mix, read the label carefully.
Anna Kelly, MD, Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine: Some of the washes contain zinc which can temporarily reduce the sense of smell, so you might want to look for a wash that's zinc free. We don't recommend the use of the washes in pregnant women, although the use of the salt water in the neti pot is fine.
Narrator: And Tip Four: Don't be afraid to use it as often as your symptoms require.
Anna Kelly, MD, Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine: You would use a neti pot whenever there's any sinus or nasal congestion, and it can be used anywhere from once a day to once a week.
Phara Brown, Sinus Sufferer: When I can feel that postnasal drip or my sinuses starting to act up that's when I start using it and keep it from actually turning into something where I could potentially be, out of work for a couple of days or even on an antibiotic.
Narrator: For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte.