A neti pot is a container designed for nasal irrigation, or rinsing debris or mucus from your nasal cavity. They can be used to naturally treat symptoms of nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds, simply by adding a solution of salt and purified water. They work by enabling the user to pour a nasal rinse into the nostrils in a way that flushes out any irritants while thinning out mucus in order to relieve congestion and make breathing easier. Any allergens or mucus that are irritating and clogging up your nose are simply flushed out. Even many doctors recommend using it for those who are fighting nasal congestion, allergies, colds and sinus infections.
One 2009 study out of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, surveyed actively practicing family physicians and found that 87 percent recommended saline nasal irrigation as part of their treatment advice for a wide range of health problems. 91 percent recommended it for sinus infections, and some two-thirds recommended it for seasonal allergies, viral upper respiratory infections, rhinitis or stuffy nose, and acute bacterial sinus infections.
There are many different types of neti pots, made from a variety of materials. Drug stores often sell the less expensive plastic versions, and you can find higher end neti pots on places like Amazon and eBay online, that are made of copper, stainless steel or ceramic.
We’ll take a brief look at the differences between them.
Plastic neti pots. This is the least expensive and most versatile type of neti pot. It won’t break if it’s knocked over since it’s plastic, and it’s incredibly lightweight, yet durable, which means it’s easy to take along when you’re traveling to use as a preventative measure. It also tends to be more comfortable against one’s nose, thanks to the taper plastic spout. There are downsides to plastic neti pots, however. They aren’t dishwasher-safe due to the hot water cycle, which is a problem when it comes to cleaning as it can’t be boiled so that all of the bacteria is removed. You’ll have to do some serious scrubbing by hand, using a sponge and dish soap after each use.
This is the best reviewed plastic neti pot available on Amazon which includes 30 saline packets.
Ceramic neti pots. A ceramic neti pot comes in a wide variety of glazes and colors, and due to its attractive looks, many people mistake it for a teapot. While it is rather durable, if it is dropped, it will break, making it not the best option if you travel a lot. Most are dishwasher safe, but it’s important to closely inspect the label as some types have a special decorative glaze and cannot be placed in the dishwasher. As it has a ceramic spot, some users simply don’t like the way it feels against their skin.
This ergonomically designed ceramic neti pot is the most popular on the market.
Stainless steel neti pots. A stainless steel neti pot tends to be very durable and long lasting. If you drop it, it isn’t going to break. Plus, you can put it in your dishwasher or place it in boiling water to get rid of that bacteria, and it will come out as good as new. These types of neti pots also don’t have to be refilled when switching from one nostril to the other, as they tend to be bigger than the ceramic or plastic type. As the material feels hard and cold, it can be a little uncomfortable to use.
If a stainless steel neti pot is for you, then this NasoNeti option is the best choice.
Copper neti pots. There are many copper neti pots made, and they’re actually considered a speciality item, but if you can find one, they’re arguably the most beautiful type of all to have in your kitchen. The gorgeous sheen of copper is just hard to beat. It’s just as durable as steel, and with proper care, it will last a lifetime. You can clean it in your dishwasher, and it’s safe for boiling in water too. There are a few minor issues with a copper neti pot, mainly that salt exposure will turn it green, but you can protect against this by looking for one that has a clear coat finish. That will prevent the pot from tarnishing, while protecting against salt damage too. Like steel, copper tends to be cold, so it can be a little uncomfortable to feel the chill inside of your nose.
If you’d like to opt for a copper neti pot, then this beautiful option is the best choice.
5 Reasons To Start Using A Neti Pot
No matter what type of neti pot you plan to use, it offers a multitude of benefits.
1. Fighting cold symptoms
If you come down with a cold, you’ll be very happy you have a neti pot to turn too. That’s because one of the classic symptoms of the common cold is nasal congestion. Using a neti pot when you’ve got a stuffed up nose due to a cold, helps to thin out mucus so that it drains out more easily. That actually helps to relieve a number of different cold symptoms. According to University Health News, most research agree that the benefits derived from nasal irrigation come from the movement of fluid through the nasal cavity to physically clear away debris and mucus, but there is likely another reason it works. The saline itself may play a part in creating physiological changes such as reducing inflammation and boosting the immune mechanisms in the nasal cavity and sinuses.
2. Relieving sinus congestion
In much the same way that a neti pot helps to fight cold symptoms and relieve nasal congestion, it can also help sinus congestion, which can be caused by a number of factors in the environment, such as chemicals, pollen, dust and synthetic fragrances. It’s one of the best tools for performing nasal irrigation to reduce general sinus congestion, no matter what the cause. It helps to reduce that irritation by flushing out excess mucus and unwanted invaders.
3. Battling sinus infections
Sinus infections can be miserable, but a neti pot can bring relief, whether you’re suffering from chronic sinusitis or an acute sinus infection. Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in July of 2016 as reported by CNN, showed that patients suffering from chronic sinus infections were able to improve symptoms and maintain positive outcomes for six months. Subjects not only enjoyed relief from sinus congestion, they had fewer headaches and didn’t find the need to resort to over-the-counter medicines as much.
Dr. Richard J. Harvey, a professor of rhinology at Macquarie University, told CNN that higher volume neti pots are much more effective than nasal sprays. He explained:
“The benefit of saline is the removal of mucus and inflammatory products in the nose and only true ‘irrigation’ brings this about — thus simple [nose] sprays and inhalations are ineffective. Higher volume neti pots and even moreso the higher volume and positive pressure squeeze bottles are more effective.”
4. Allergy relief
Millions of people suffer from allergies, and if you’re one of them, you know how miserable it can be, with common symptoms like post-nasal drip and nasal congestion. Doctors also recommend the use of a neti pot for allergy relief as one of the best ways to relieve symptoms is through nasal irrigation. Neti pots can be even more effective than medications, yet they come without those annoying side effects. That’s why even many healthcare providers consider it to be a a” first-line treatment for common nasal and sinus symptoms.”
In 2010, a scientific review from Germany that was published in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy confirmed that nasal irrigation using a saline solution was not only a safe and inexpensive way to relieve a stuffy nose caused by allergies, it was also shown to improve overall quality of life in allergy suffers, and lead to using less allergy medications.
If you snore and sinus congestion is causing it, using a neti pot can help that too, as snoring is often caused by a stuffed up nose. Once your congestion is relieved, that annoying snoring often goes away.
Neti Pot Safety Concerns
In August 2012, the FDA issued a consumer warning in regard to the use of neti pots, citing two deaths related to their use in Louisiana in 2011. But the problem wasn’t with the neti pot, rather that the manufactures of them weren’t providing instructions that were clear enough in regard to the dos and don’ts of the products.
The main safety concern is the type of water used. Tap water should never, ever be used as it contains trace amounts of protozoa and bacteria. While it’s not usually a problem when drinking it as stomach acid gets rid of the unwanted stuff, but when you use a neti pot, you’re sending those organisms directly into your nasal passages, which can result in some incredibly bad outcomes, like what happened to the Louisianans. Both, one victim a 20-year-old male, and the other a 51-year-old female, died after irrigating their sinuses using a neti pot filled with tap water as they became infected with a brain-eating amoeba.
You can use tap water, provided it’s been boiled for at least three to five minutes, and then allowed to cool to lukewarm temperature before using.
The only other acceptable water options, according to the FDA are:
- Water that is labeled “sterile” or “distilled,” which can be purchased in most grocery stores.
- Previously boiled water stored in a clean, closed container for up to 24 hours.
- Water that has gone through a filter that was specifically designed to trap potentially infectious organisms. Recommended filters include those that have an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller or a label that reads “NSF 53” or “NSF 58.”
If you have any concerns, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider to determine if nasal rinsing will be safe or effective for your particular condition. If symptoms are not relieved or worsen after nasal rinsing, be sure to let your healthcare provider know.
How To Safely Use A Neti Pot
You know what type of water to use in your neti pot, but what about the solution? You can buy premade sinus rinses, or you can make your own simply by combining a cup of purified water (using the above water options) with a one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of iodized salt. Adding a pinch of baking soda is optional.
Don’t use salt that contains any additional ingredients in your neti pot: the ingredient list should include salt only. The solution is meant to mimic the salt-to-water balance of the body’s tissues. You can use plain table salt, sea salt or kosher salt.
When your solution is in your neti pot, thoroughly wash and dry your hands before using to avoid spreading any germs. The whole process takes only about 5 minutes.
- You’ll need a good location for using your neti pot, it can be done over a sink, bowl, in the shower or outside. Just be aware that a trickle of water will be flowing out your nose, so you don’t want to do it on the couch. You may also want to wear some type of protective clothing. After doing it a few times, you probably won’t get your clothes wet, but when first starting out, it’s easy to end up with at least a few water spots. Fortunately, they tend to dry quickly and don’t stain.
- Once you’re in your desired spot, lean forward and tilt your head sideways to about a 45-degree angle and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril. Be sure the spout is fully inserted so water cannot leak out that nostril, open your mouth and breathe through it while you gently pour, aiming to use about half the solution. Try to relax. The solution will immediately begin to come out of your lower nostril, which is what you want to have happen.
- Repeat on the other side.
That’s all there is to it, the No. 1 risk is using a dangerous water source, so by following the advice here and by carefully reading the instructions that come with your neti pot, you’ll be able to relieve symptoms without risking injury or worse.
The Best Neti Pots For You To Try