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Neti pots are special purpose pots that look somewhat like teapots. They are used for nasal irrigation, a health and purification regime also called jali neti, which is practiced widely in Asia. While many westerners find the practice 'gross', it is no more gross than brushing one's teeth, and in fact, is a routine part of daily hygiene in India.
The process is simple - the neti pot is filled with warm salt water, and the user stands over a sink, tilting the head forward and to one side. The salt water is poured into one nostril, and flows through and out the other one. Once you have rinsed in one direction, you tilt your head the other direction and do it again.
Neti pots have spouts that are sized to be inserted into one nostril, blocking it completely so that there is no flowback of the saline solution. The water should be tepid or blood temperature, so as not to sting with chill or burn with heat. The salt should be completely dissolved. Salt is an important part of this process, since it is cleansing and can loosen and remove impurities that plain water cannot.
Who needs neti pots? People who take yoga and have learned of jali neti from their instructor often use neti pots. Jali neti is considered one of the purification rituals one must perform before practicing yoga. With more westerners practicing yoga, the practice of jali neti is gaining more attention in the west and is being credited with a number of health benefits. Others who might be interested in neti pots are allergy sufferers, people who have persistent sinus problems, or people whose jobs take them to dusty, smoky, or otherwise poor breathing environments.
The benefits of neti pots can be obvious. Your nose filters impurities from the air through fine hairs. These hairs get cleaned through blowing your nose, but actually rinsing them will get them much cleaner. Since allergens are some of the particles that neti pots rinse away, allergy sufferers report great benefits from regular use.
Neti pots are easy to find in health food and new age stores. They can be either ceramic or unbreakable plastic, and can be aesthetically pleasing or utilitarian. After purchasing a neti pot, study the instructions carefully. They should include a diagram of head placement to make sure that you both don't pour water down your airways, and don't dribble it down your clothing. It is really a lot easier than it sounds.
these actually work! i probably should use it on a more regular basis, but i usually use it when my nose is congested or feel a sinus infection coming on. although it is a little weird to have water going up one nostril, and coming out the other, it's not as bad as you'd think! i've also heard that the nasal irrigator, where you squeeze the water up into your nose, and out the other side works pretty well. since i haven't tried that yet, i don't know which one works better. anyone tried both?