Here in North Texas, we have many fun allergens, not to mention the air pollution in the metroplex (we are one of the dirtiest cities when it comes to air). I see a lot of postings online and questions on Twitter about how to treat allergies without drugs. To be honest, I don’t necessarily have an answer for a natural way to treat allergy symptoms. What I have is a drug free method of preventing allergies before they start. It’s called the neti pot.
I’ve done a post before about the neti pot, but it’s been a while. I used to get terrible allergies all the time and have to take tons of medications to deal with the symptoms and the headaches. Then I started using the neti pot every night before bed, and I haven’t had to take an allergy medication since! The worst I get now is some eye burning and watering when the pollen gets high.
To go back to basics, a neti pot is a small pot with a spout that you put a salt water mixture into. The shape of the pot can vary as shown here:
I have had a ceramic pot and a plastic one, they were both more the streamlined, squat type, as opposed to the ones with a long thin spout.
|This is what my current neti pot looks like|
When the neti pot is filled with water, you tilt your head and POUR the water through one nostril and out the other. You do not snort the water or force it up your nose in any way. If you are doing this correctly, you should be able to continue breathing regularly while the water is pouring through. I am not going to post a video of myself using the neti pot because there are about 1 million videos like that on YouTube, just search for “neti pot”.
As it pertains to allergies, what the neti pot does is to wash the allergens that collect inside your nose out of your nasal passages so that they can’t hang out in there and cause your body to react in order to remove the allergens by sneezing, manufacturing mucus, or swelling the nasal passages shut. This is why I suggest using the neti pot before bed. What you want to do is wash the pollen and dust and dander particles out of your nose so that they aren’t incubating inside your airways all night while you sleep. Instead, you are sleeping with a relatively allergen-free airway, therefore reducing the likelihood that you’ll develop allergic reactions.
Inevitably when I mention the neti pot I get someone who says “I tried that and it didn’t work”.
Reasons a neti pot “doesn’t work”:
1) If you don’t do it nearly every day, it won’t prevent allergies. Allergens only have to build up in your nose overnight a few times to start your body on an allergic reaction path.
2) Once you have the allergy or cold symptoms and your nose is plugged up, you can’t use the neti pot until the congestion is gone. Which makes sense, of course, because you can’t pour water through something that has no opening. A lot of people I talk to haven’t tried using the neti pot until they were already congested and, of course… it doesn’t work.
3) “It hurts”
I want to address #3 separately. The neti pot should not hurt. If it does, something is being done wrong.
Reasons a neti pot hurts to use:
1) Salt/water balance is off. Either too much salt or not enough will cause the water to sting. Experiment with what works for you. When you are starting out, you can buy a neti pot kit that comes with pre-measured salt and baking soda solution and that will help, but eventually you might want to stop paying extra for pre-measured packets (affiliate link) and go to regular (non-iodized – VERY IMPORTANT!) salt. When you do that, if it burns, try reducing the amount of salt or increasing it until it no longer hurts.
2) Water temperature is too hot or cold. Using completely cold tap water will hurt for sure. And you shouldn’t use tap water anyway – boil the water first and let cool. I keep my pre-boiled water in a glass carafe on my bathroom counter so that it is room temperature. Some people heat the water. I don’t because my kitchen is downstairs and my bedroom bathroom is upstairs. If you find that you need to warm your water, you will need to find your own personal balance, since no ones ideal temperature is the same. Start with somewhere around 98 degrees Farenheit, since that is the temperature of the body, and either increase or decrease the temperature from there.
3) Nasal mucus might need to be moistened first. I recommend using the neti pot after washing your face in the evening because the heat from the water on your face helps soften the nasal tissues before you run the water through them.
I hope this tutorial might help someone! Feel free to pass it on or leave me questions you might have and I’ll answer them as best I can.
UPDATE: Please make sure that you also read my post on neti pot safety – it is important to use only boiled or distilled water in your neti pot to avoid potentially life-threatening infections.