I am sooo grateful that spring has finally decided to show itself in my neck of the woods! But after taking a nice walk through the neighborhood, enjoying all the smells and blooms and even bringing several sprigs of one bush home, I started feeling congested, lethargic, and headache-y and wondered if pollen could be the culprit. So I pulled out my trusty neti pot and gave my nasal passages and sinuses a “bath” and experienced immediate, almost miraculous relief. Ahhhhhh.
So if you have nasal or sinus problems and have never used a neti pot, then you’re missing out on a great self-help health tool that no household should be without…..
CLEANSING THE NASAL PASSAGES & SINUSES
The nasal passages are not only involved in the process of respiration, but also serve as one of the main routes in the body’s elimination system, so it is important for them to receive periodic attention. To insure nose and sinus health—and to relieve congestion, allergies, infection, and dry nasal passages—there’s a simple, natural Ayurvedic treatment that is a time-honored practice in the Orient. Essentially, it’s hydrotherapy for the nose and functions much the same as a colonic does for the colon, or a salt water flush for the digestive tract. The process requires a small, pitcher-like device called a neti pot, some pure water and high quality, uniodized salt (Himalayan crystal salt is perfect for this!).
To experience the benefits of this particular therapy, simply fill the neti pot with approximately 8 oz. warm high quality water (I highly recommend using structured water) and ¼ heaping tsp. *Himalayan crystal salt (or ½ tsp. coarse ground salt). Because it matches the body’s own salinity, this solution is gentler than straight water, and if you make the mixture using a crystalline salt, even more benefit is added. I put the salt in first, and then a little boiling water, so that the salt dissolves quickly, then alternately add hot and cold water until a comfortable temperature is achieved and the pot is full. Temperature is key here because water that’s too warm or too cool will feel uncomfortable to the nasal passages, but when it’s “just right”—sort of like the situation with Goldilocks and the three bears’ porridge—it can feel soothing.
*I read recently that you should not use sea salt as it might have algae in it.
Once the salt has completely dissolved and the pot is filled, bend over the sink, turn your head to the side and insert the spout into the upper nostril and let the solution flow through the sinuses and out the other nostril (it goes without saying that you breathe through your mouth, not your nose, during this part of the process). Then blow your nose into a tissue(s), careful not to close either nostril, to clear out the mucus, etc. loosened by the flush. After that, make another pot of the solution and repeat the process on the other nostril, with your head turned in the opposite direction. After blowing your nose again, bend over and touch your right foot with your left hand, turn your head to the right, and raise your right arm. Repeat pose using opposite hand/foot position. This helps any excess fluid lingering from the flush to drain from the sinuses, so be sure you have a tissue or two (or three!) handy.
You can use this regimen as part of your normal hygiene routine, to remove excess mucus when you’re feeling congested, during allergy season, when you’ve been exposed to smoke, soot, dust, or other airborne contaminants, or when your nasal passages are dry and uncomfortable. If the mucus that normally functions as a protective layer for the nasal passages becomes too thick and dry, or too thin and runny, it’s easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate the nasal lining and cause swelling, a cold, or infection, so it’s important to make sure this part of the body gets regular attention. And using a neti pot is an easy and inexpensive way to do that! (Note: Using Nasaline’s syringe-type device, or one of the other irrigation systems on the market, instead of a neti pot, may seem easier and more natural for some people.)
The flush routine may initially feel a little strange or even downright uncomfortable—sort of like accidentally getting salt water up your nose when you’re swimming in the ocean. But with time, it should start to feel more natural, and possibly even pleasant, and the benefits will be well worth your efforts. And if you happen to be suffering from a cold, sinus infection, sore throat, etc., the cleansing process can be very soothing and bring welcome relief. In those cases, adding something like Neti Wash Plus®, which contains extracts of organic goldenseal, phellodendron bark, barberry root bark, coptis root, grapefruit seed and more, to the saline solution will help clear out toxins, restore a healthy inner environment, and add anti-microbial and anti-viral “oomph” to the cleansing process.
Nasal sprays, such as Xlear Nasal Wash®, that contain all natural ingredients, can also be used to support nose and sinus health. Xlear® features xylitol, a natural substance with anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. When bacteria enter the body they hold on to the tissues by attaching to a variety of sugar complexes, but studies have shown that the open nature of xylitol and its ability to form many different sugar-like structures appears to interfere with the ability of many bacteria to adhere to tissues. Xylitol also helps protect teeth enamel and clear up ear infections.
And here’s a home-made remedy for allergies from Jeanette Padilla that uses apple cider vinegar (one of my favorite health aids!):
Combine all of the ingredients below and drink 1 glass a day until your allergy symptoms subside. Over time this healthy drink will help reduce inflammation, excess mucous, balance pH and help eliminate nasal allergies.
Click here to read more about natural remedies by Jeanette for nasal allergies.
FYI, you can get neti pots and irrigation systems, Neti Wash Plus, Xlear Nasal Wash, apple cider vinegar, and raw honey at any good health food store, however I buy all my health supplies on-line at a couple of discount sites. One of my favorite places to shop is iHerb.com; use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get $10 off, plus can take advantage of their wonderful Specials and Trial Offers section. Shipping is free on orders of $20 and up, and there’s no sales tax. Normally there’s an extra 5% off on orders over $60, BUT if you set up a new account by 3/31/14 there will be an extra 10% off (12% on orders of $80).
Vitacost.com is another on-line favorite of mine; if you are new to Vitacost and make your first purchase of $25 or more through the link on my webpage you will receive a $10 off coupon. And if you plan on shopping again after that, be sure to sign up for a free acct. at eBates.com, if you don’t already have one. That way you can use the eBates portal to shop at Vitacost (and 100s of other popular stores) and earn cash back on your purchases. Plus, eBates also offers some reward–I got a $10 gift card–when you place your first $25 order at a store through them. How does it get any better than that?!
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.