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a neti pot sits on a wooden tray with salt and a spoon

One of the best remedies for cold and allergy symptoms is also one of the oldest: the Ayurvedic practice of nasal irrigation. Known as jala neti in Sanskrit, it’s performed with a neti pot, which looks like a cross between a tiny teapot and a magic lamp. The practice flushes out mucus and allergens while easing congestion, reducing the need for over-the-counter drugs.

What You’ll Need

Water

Use only water that’s pure and sterile. If you don’t have distilled water on hand, use boiled water that has cooled to a lukewarm (not cold) temperature.

Salt and Baking Soda

Combine 3 teaspoons of noniodized salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and add 1 teaspoon of the mixture to 8 ounces of lukewarm distilled or boiled water. (If the water stings your nose, use less salt.)

illustration of a person using a neti pot

Directions

Place the spout in your right nostril and tilt your head to the left and forward 45 degrees over a sink or basin until the water pours out of your left nostril for several seconds. Then switch to the other side. Gently blow your nose afterward. This produces the refreshing and cleansing effect of a good cry (minus the emotions).

Helpful Tips

How Often: For nasal congestion or allergies, use your neti pot once a day. For an acute sinus infection, irrigate two to three times a day. As a rule, don’t overirrigate, because this can deplete the protective mucous membrane that supports immunity. Avoid irrigating a recently injured nose; consult with your healthcare provider before using your neti pot after surgery.

How to Clean: Clean your neti pot after each use with soap and distilled or boiled water and let it air dry. Seek out a ceramic neti pot, which can last for years. For pots made of other materials, experts recommend replacing every few months to avoid bacteria buildup.

Illustration by: Colin Hayes
Terri
Terri Trespicio

Terri Trespicio is a writer and lifestyle expert based in New York City. She is the author of Unfollow Your Passion: How to Create a Life That Matters to You.

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