The latest in our “We Try it So You Don’t Have To” series, we see if there’s any redeeming value in sticking a small pot of saline up your blowhole.
People seeking relief from cold and flu symptoms often seem to be stuck between equally unattractive choices: pop yet another pill, which tend to be expensive and come with uncomfortable side effects; or seek some all-natural cure, the effectiveness of which can’t be verified by anything but anecdotal accounts that can often be chalked up to the placebo effect.
But sometimes even those kooky cures make sense — like the centuries-old technique of cleansing your nose when it’s the very thing that’s bothering you.
George Sibley, as portrayed by James Cromwell on HBO’s original series Six Feet Under, is hardly what viewers would call a visionary . . . or perhaps even likable. But this complicated, often adversarial character in that drama helped introduce the mainstream to what is a most welcome homeopathic instrument for sinus relief called the Neti Pot. Now, understandably, it probably turned viewers off when George wanted to share this implement with another character, shortly after sticking it up his own nasal cavity. But let’s think of this more as an opportunity to learn the best way to use a Neti Pot, even if the cult drama didn’t introduce it in a palatable light. Just try to ignore that some doctors want to call the process a “nose enema.”
You can buy Neti Pots at most major drug store chains. The process in a pinch: a small pot is filled with warm saline solution. You stick your head out a little, tilt slightly, insert the spot into one of your nostrils, and commence pouring. You need to mouth-breathe as you do it, lest the saline start dribbling down the back of your throat. If you’re doing it properly, the saline will run out of your opposite nostril. Repeat using the opposite nostril.
Kind of gross? Yes! But if you’re suffering from nasal decongestion or pain, the Neti Pot represents very quick relief, for a very reasonable price (typically around $10).
We experienced instant relief in the nose, and our plugged-up ears followed suit. The process is admittedly a little uncomfortable, so we doubt it’ll get much use unless there’s a large degree of nasal irritation. But there’s no denying the positive effect the device has had on helping ride out one of the worst colds we’ve had in years.