Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Neti Pot

A while ago, I was watching an episode of the Oprah show with Dr. Mehmet Oz. He was showing off a product that clears the sinuses; it is called the neti pot.
The purpose of the neti pot is to help with allergies, congestion and sinus infections. The process of cleaning the nasal passageway with the pot is called saline nasal irrigation. Recalling that my mother has one and uses it occasionally, I wanted to question how effective and popular it is among people. 

How does the neti pot work? First, you fill the pot with warm salt water; second, you tilt your head to the side and slowly pour it in the superior nostril. The water mixture will travel through your nostrils, thinning out and/or pushing mucus through to the other nostril. This method is an alternative to nasal sprays, strong medication, and surgery. The video below gives a visual demonstration on how it works.

It is assumed that the neti pot is easy to use, everyone can use it, and all pots [made from different materials such as plastic and ceramic] work the same way. It is also assumed that it will completely clean the sinuses and nostrils of mucus and allergies in one shot.

Looking at customer reviews on different websites (such as, for example), a lot of people love using the pot. Some people did not like it because the spout did not fit comfortably in their nostril. They also did not like the feeling of water going through their nasal passageways. Some people complained about getting bacterial infections from using the pot (possibly from not cleaning it after every use). I also found some cases where a couple of people in the US have died from a particular fatal brain infection (Naegleria fowleri, a “brain-eating amoeba thriving in unsterilized water) due to using infected tap water.

I came across a randomized research study testing the effectiveness of the neti pot. Seventy-six participants with sinusitis from six different clinics were divided into two test groups: Neti pot users and control. The neti pot group underwent saline nasal irrigation everyday for six months while the control group continued their usual treatment. The results of the study concluded that daily nasal irrigation is more effective than usual treatment for sinusitis. It helped decrease both symptoms and the number of medications people were on for their sinusitis. It was also recommended that people that want to use it get proper training so they do not get an infection from it due to user error.

I have used the pot myself a couple of times. From my experience, it did not have that much of an effect on me; I did not feel it helped with my congestion, even though I was not using it everyday like I probably should. Despite my personal testimony, I do conclude that while the neti pot may not be for everybody, for those who use it, and use it on a daily basis, it is a very effective way to improve symptoms in the sinuses; it is positively recommended by many doctors and physicians.

1 comment:

  1. A few years ago i used a neti pot when i had a sinus infection. It temporarily eased the pain and pressure and allowed me to relax for a while. But it only eased the symptoms it did not cure my infection. So i can say that it is effective but it is not a cure.