All About The Neti Pot

Using the Neti Pot for Allergies and Beyond

Jala neti is an extremely beneficial practice to alleviate allergies and sinus irritations and infections and assist one in bringing greater health and wellness into the head and person in general. As part of the original traditional Hatha Yoga path, the neti pot has been a basic tool of the shatkarmas or “cleansing practices” which allows a yogi or practitioner to prepare for greater awareness and deeper states of consciousness by purifying the body vessel. The neti pot does this by first cleansing the passageways of the head physically, which allows the third eye to likewise be purified and opened.

Neti translates from Sanskrit as “nasal purification” and originally jala neti was the term used to describe the use of salty warm water passed from a small pot with a longish spout through the nose.

Jala Neti

There are several ways the neti pot can be used to relieve allergies and sinus irritations. The most common method is jala neti, the warm, salty water flush. This is where purified water, just warmer than body temperature, is added to the neti pot with about ½ teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan salt. This brings the solution into a similar make up to the body's natural saline state, so it will move through the nasal passageway without being absorbed into the membranes.

To use neti with the prescribed formula of saline water, the practitioner stands with feet apart, bent slightly over at the waist, leaning over a sink, tub or the ground outside. Next, the pot is placed up to one nostril and the mouth is opened, face forward. When ready, and making sure the breath is happening through the mouth, the practitioner leans the head slightly to the opposite direction of the nostril being poured through to allow for a stream of water to pass from one nostril, through the sinus passageways out the other nostril. This will happen within a matter of a few seconds, miraculously.

The initial sensation of neti may seem a bit strange, but it is recommended to continue to pour through the first nostril for half of the neti and then to switch to the other side for the remaining liquid. It is also acceptable to do a second round so as to have poured the entire contents of one neti pot through each nostril.

After completing the neti it is crucial to practice the post-drying method so as to remove any additional water and mucous from the passage. To do this, close off one nostril with the thumb or first finger and exhale short, gentle breaths through the open nostril, making sure not to exert too much pressure and damage the recently washed membranes. The same instruction is repeated on the opposite nostril and then the bastrika pranayama breath can be implemented where alternate breathes are exhaled out each nostril in order to complete the gentle “blow-drying” of the nose. Some mucous may become present and released through this method and it is cautioned to avoid strongly blowing the nose for a bit after the neti to protect the nasal lining, as it has become sensitive after the flush and could be more prone to tear.

Ameroli Neti

An older Ayurvedic method which is perhaps lesser known and practiced in the west is that of ameroli neti, where the practitioner uses their own urine through a neti pot in order to relieve infection, allergy or irritation. This practice is extremely beneficial though the main obstacle to overcome in this method is that of the mental blocks regarding using one's own body fluids. The benefits of ameroli over saline is probably ten-fold in that the body substance contains the vitamins, minerals and necessary enzymes and elements which perfectly match what the sufferer would need to heal. The ratio of salts to water is exact to the user and every element required for healing is present. Along with the perfect solution, the sensation is hardly noticeable if one can get beyond the mental disturbance that might be blocking them from using the practice due to the make up being directly from one's own body.

For relieving intense sinus infection, nothing is better – no medicine, herb or regime – than using ameroli neti. One try and the practitioner will be convinced that indeed ameroli is some kind of a hidden miracle method. To use, collect the morning flow just after the initial first 10 seconds of urine. Place in a neti pot and use as described above.

Ameroli has been used by yogis and Ayurvedic practitioners for thousands of years in order to safely and powerfully not only relieve suffering from congestion, allergies, infections and the like, but to assist one who is practicing yoga and self-realization methods to open the third eye and come into a deeper awareness of the Self. It has been discovered that ameroli neti is especially beneficial if the practitioner is undertaking deep meditation practices as the over 24 groups of hormones found to be present in the urine assist the cardiovascular system to function properly during deeper states.

If one takes up ameroli neti it is advised that the diet be “clean” and without a lot of sweets, meats or other acid-producing foods. Rather, a largely raw food diet ought to be the norm in order to build up a powerful substance to use during the practice and to avoid any harshness or acidity in the flush.

Other Jala Neti Variations

Besides warm salty water and urine, other variants that can be used in the neti pot for nasal and sinus health are raw milk and ghee. If milk (dugdha neti) is chosen it must be fresh and unpasteurized, also slightly warmed in order to receive it into the nose without discomfort. Ghrita neti is the neti performed with warm fresh ghee – or clarified butter. The use of ghee in the neti is often recommended in Ayurvedic medicine for purification of the nasal passageway or for certain cancers, autoimmune disorders or inflammations of the nasal passageway, or for mental disorders.

Neti for Allergies and Beyond

During a neti flush, either with saline or the ameroli method, the mucous membranes of the nasal passageway are cleaned out of any foreign invaders, pollen and irritants that are contributing to discomfort. Along with the cleanse, the digestive system receives an equal “re-boot” since the sinuses are so closely tied to and related to the digestive functions. Where you have problems in the digestive system, so will there be issues with the sinuses, and vice versa. By utilizing neti, the sinuses are relieved and purified, especially if incorporated into a regular, daily practice. In this way, the bowels are likewise purified by association and the user will find their daily movements more fluid along with a healthier disposition, better sleep and clearer thinking.

Daily use can be incorporated if one is suffering from sensitivities of smell, colds/flu, sinus infections, allergies, frequent headaches or migraines, regular nosebleeds, issues with the eyes – including eye strains or infections of the eyes as well as ear problems/infections. If none of these or similar issues persist, neti can be practiced about twice per week for maintenance and for the other psychic benefits which have been reported through regular jala neti use.

The traditional Hatha Yoga text Hatha Yoga Pradipika which outlines the use of shatkarmas including neti and other cleansing practices reports the regular use of neti will “destroy all diseases above the throat” as well as “cleanse the cranium and bestow clairvoyance.” Mouth breathing, which is often a problem with children, is caused by distress in the nasal and sinus passages which later leads to memory problems and can be avoided or remedied by regular neti use.

Other benefits of the neti pot include:

  • relaxation of facial muscles
  • youthful appearance
  • relief of emotional tension
  • depression lifted
  • epilepsy relief
  • anxiety and hysteria calmed
  • balance of left and right brain hemisphere resulting in alpha brain waves
  • harmony and health in central nervous system
  • digestion improved
  • frontal lobes of cerebrum function optimally
  • higher mental functions increase
  • awakening of the psychic channel sushumna nadi
  • intuition increased
  • creativity stimulated
  • chakra and kundalini activation/awakening/balance

Using the neti pot may start as relief for allergies, but as one continues with the practice it will be found that such an addition to one's regimen has benefits that extend far beyond physical health.  As a staple in yogic and Ayurvedic health practices, neti pot usage can be easily added to a wellness program in order to increase health and avoid dis-eases of the future. All one needs is a neti pot and a bit of patience, endurance and commitment. Start out your neti practice with the basic jala neti technique and see what you've been missing.

Photo Credit: "Neti Pots" by Suzanne Schroeter is licensed under CC BY 2.0