Neti for Cold and Flu

September 20, 2012
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Going back to school and heading into cold and flu season means our bodies can use all the immunity-boosting help they can get. Don’t overlook the power of the neti pot for daily support of your nasal passages, one of the body’s first lines of defense.

The neti pot is a centuries-old Ayurvedic tradition that utilizes a salt and water mixture that is poured through the nostril.  “Neti is one of six cleansing measures that are very old yogic practices,” says Sunny Rose, an Ayurvedic practitioner formerly at our Albuquerque store, who adds that jala neti means ‘water cleansing.’ “Yogis would do it as part of their daily measures to strengthen body and mind, and that’s basically how we use it too.”

Indeed, daily cleansing helps sweep allergens, bacteria and viruses from the nasal passages, thereby reducing the chances of infection or allergic reaction. “The saltwater will also help decrease inflammation in the nasal passages,” says Ashleigh Putnam, naturopathic doctor at our Monterey store. “When your mucosal membrane isn’t inflamed, it’s stronger and healthier.” Ashleigh adds that the less inflamed it is, the more likely it is to prevent fungal, bacterial or viral infections that can lead to cold and flu.

But nasal rinsing can also be helpful when a cold or congestion does hit. According to a 2007 study in the Archives of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, nasal washing can be more effective than nasal sprays at clearing chronic congestion. Saline solution helps flush out excess mucous as well as pollen and other irritants. That’s why experts recommend a daily wash—whether in the middle of pollen-producing spring or cold and flu season—as follows:

1) Fill a clean neti pot or squeeze bottle with 1 cup of warm distilled or filtered water* mixed with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pure sea salt works best, or pick up pre-mixed solutions from Pharmaca. Just make sure the salt is free of iodine and other additives, which can harm the nasal passages.
2) Tilt your head to one side, and place the spout in one nostril. Make clean up easy by leaning over the sink or standing in the shower.
3) Slowly pour the saline solution through one nostril, allowing it to flow through your nasal cavity and out the other nostril.
4) Repeat on the other side.

Try out the power of neti with Pharmaca’s offerings, including products from Himalayan Institute, Baraka Red Hot Ceramics or Neilmed Sinus Rinse Kits. And make sure you clean your neti pot regularly to reduce the risk of introducing bacteria to the sensitive nasal passages (try hot water and a plant-based soap, such as Pharmaca’s Defense Formula Hand Soap, filled with essential oils that naturally fight bacteria).

*The FDA recommends filtered water because of certain bacteria that can be present in tap water.

If you want to learn more about proper neti pot use, come in and talk to a Pharmaca practitioner today.

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