A very effective and ancient tool to help you get through this winter’s cold season a little easier is the neti pot. The neti pot is a small, genie-lamp shaped object that you fill with salt-water and use to rinse out your nasal passages. Rinsing the nasal passages is a technique that has been used for centuries and stems from Ayurvedic medicine. In ancient India, rinsing the nasal passages with saline solution was used as a cleansing ritual known as jala neti.

In my practice, I recommend using a neti-pot to rinse the nasal passages to patients with chronic sinusitis, colds, and hay-fever. The saline solution works to soothe the mucous membranes in the nose and sinuses. By soothing these membranes, the swelling and inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses reduce, allowing for easier breathing and less sinus pain. Saline is also anti-bacterial, so rinsing the nasal passages with salt-water is a great way to prevent a cold from turning into a bacterial sinus infection.

Colds generally last 7-10 days no matter what herbal, homeopathic, or other remedies one takes, but using natural therapies like a neti-pot can help patients feel more comfortable during the cold and help prevent the cold from lingering longer or escalating into a more serious bacterial infection. Using the neti-pot for nasal rinsing will reduce congestion and sinus pressure which will help you breathe more easily, think more clearly, and sleep more deeply.

Neti-pots are available in mainstream drug stores, health food stores, and yoga studios. When you do a saline nasal rinse for the first time, it is definitely an odd sensation, however something that is easy to get used to if you do it appropriately. The solution shouldn’t sting when it is poured through the nasal passages, if it does sting, adjust the concentration of your saline solution – too little or too much salt will cause stinging. Also, make sure the water you use is filtered, and at a comfortable temperature. Read the instructions carefully on your neti pot to help you understand how to angle your head and the neti pot to make sure you are rinsing your nasal passages and sinuses and not having the water just flow down the back of your throat. This may require some practice! Once you’re done rinsing, make sure to blow your nose really well so that there is no more solution in your nose. Rinse twice daily when you have a cold. Good luck!