Thursday, February 12, 2015

Jala Neti

I realized as I mentioned neti in passing in my last post that I've never discussed neti here.  I don't consider neti to be a major part of my health turnaround, but it is an alternative health practice that I find helpful to have in my toolbox.

In short, jala neti is the practice of cleaning the sinuses with salt water.  It is an ancient hindu medical and spiritual practice, and has gotten some recent attention under the more modern term of nasal irrigation.  The water is mixed with salt in a isotonic ratio, meaning it is the same as the salt concentration in your own body, and warmed to body temperature, which makes it more soothing to delicate nasal tissues.  Water is poured in one nostril, travels through the sinuses, and out the other side.  Be sure to read and follow your nasal irrigator product instructions for how to do this safely and comfortably.  It is not hard to do, but it may take some getting used to to relax into the correct position and perform comfortably.  As your sinuses clear up it should get easier in future sessions.

I bought my pot in 2007, from Health and Yoga.  I recommend their product because it is large, easy to sanitize, and if you get the starter kit has an excellent instructional video.  It is especially important to learn how to dry your sinuses after having done neti, to reduce side effects.  Other nasal irrigation products I've looked at do not emphasise this in their instructions.

I also used the SinuCleanse Squeeze bottle.  It is a bit easier to use than a neti pot, but the anti-backwash valve got leaky after a bit.  Advocates of the neti pot dislike the squeeze bottle method as it puts pressure behind the water, which may put stress on delicate sinus tissues.  In practice it also does blast past congestion better than the more gentle method.  It has some clinical trials behind it.

Although I ditched my SinuCleanse Squeeze, I do occasionally buy their refill packets, which travel much better than a jar of kosher salt.  (Packets also available from Health and Yoga, but I can find SinuCleanse locally in many ordinary drug stores.)

In the squeeze bottle category, you can also make your own nasal irrigator with a sport top disposable water bottle.  In my area Poland Springs is the brand that offers these, but your area may vary.  Simply measure out where 500ml of water comes to, and draw a line.  (You need to know how much water you are using to mix a good isotonic salt solution.)

There are some mild side effects.  You're sticking water up your nose, and if you don't dry your nose out enough, it will come out later.  This may manifest as a runny nose or post nasal drip.  Depending on the issue you're having this may not be entirely a bad thing, as this drip will continue to flush your sinuses for several hours after your cleansing.  Secondly if you mix the water incorrectly, you may have stinging in the nose.  If this happens stop immediately, dump out your water and re-prepare according to your irrigator's instructions, the water should not hurt.