Health Column: Neti pot therapy for allergy relief
With great gusto, spring allergies blew into the Grand Valley to the tune of 49 mph. For the allergy sufferer, this unwelcome milestone usually comes with at least a heavy dose of sneezing, itchy eyes and a stuffy nose. Here is where Ayurveda, one of the oldest healing traditions on earth from India, offers us practical and effective relief in the form of a nasal rinse —also known as Neti Pot therapy.
The purpose of the Neti Pot is simple. It cleans the nasal passages of dust, dirt, pollen and smoke that gets trapped by the body’s natural production of mucus, allowing for free airflow through both nostrils. Vitamin Cottage or Horn o’ Plenty carry porcelain containers that are specifically designed for a nasal wash, but alternatively a small regular watering can or syringe may be used. Make sure you reserve it only for this use!
1. Pour 8 ounces of clean warm water into the pot. Water that is too cool may increase congestion, while water that is too warm may cause irritation of the delicate lining of the nose.
2. Stir pure, non-iodized salt into the water until it’s completely dissolved. The amount depends on how finely ground the salt is. Use 1/4 teaspoon with finely ground salt such as table salt, or 1/2 teaspoon with coarse varieties like kosher salt or sea salt. The resulting saline solution shouldn’t burn.
3. Lean over the sink so you are looking directly into the basin, then rotate your head to the side so that one nostril is directly above the other. The forehead should remain level with the chin or slightly higher. Insert the spout into the upper nostril until it makes a comfortable seal. Keeping your mouth open, pour the solution into the upper nostril and let it drain out through the lower. You should be able to breath comfortably through your mouth. If the solution drains into your mouth, lower your forehead in relation to your chin. Continue pouring until the pot is empty.
4. Exhale vigorously through your nose to clear excess mucus and water. Quickly draw the abdomen toward the spine during each exhalation. If using a tissue, be sure not to pinch the nostrils closed. Continue until they are both clear.
5. Mix another batch of saline in the pot and repeat the procedure on the other side, again exhaling vigorously to clear the nasal passages.
6. It may be necessary to do additional techniques to clear remaining saline solution from your nose.
A. Bend forward, pointing the top of your head towards the floor. Hold for a few seconds then return to standing and do some vigorous exhalations.
B. Stand with feet 2-3 feet apart and arms out to the side. Slowly bend from the waist bringing the right hand to the left knee. Look up at your left hand stretched up towards the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the other side. Exhale vigorously through the nose. (Reference: Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy. Neti Pot. Honesdale, PA. 1994.)
Remember to include the basics of self-care during allergy season — drink plenty of fresh, clean water, eat reasonably well and get adequate sleep. In this way you can set yourself up for as easy of an allergy season as possible.
Christopher Lepisto, a GJ Free Press health columnist, graduated as a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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