Do neti pots promote sinus health?
Used for eons by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, neti pots are small, teapot-shaped vessels from which one empties saline solution (warm water with a bit of salt) into one nostril while leaning over a sink; the water exits from the other nostril, having dribbled through your nasal passages. Sounds gross, but people swear by their neti pot's capacity to reduce nasal congestion and ward off sinus infections. And the medical establishment has come to embrace neti pots as one of several ways to irrigate nasal passages, with doctors recommending their use by people with chronic nasal congestion, sinus infections or allergies.
But recent research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology earlier this month casts a bit of a pall on the neti pot. Researchers found that people who regularly used the pots for a year and then stopped using them for the following year experienced fewer cases of sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) when they weren't irrigating their nasal passages than when they were. Though the study was small, tracking just 68 neti-pot users, the difference was notable: The number of sinusitis cases dropped by more than 62 percent when neti-pot use ceased.
The scientists reasoned that daily, long-term use of neti pots can strip the nose of its protective, infection-fighting layer of mucus and other defenses.
It's important not to put too much stock in the findings of a study that, like this one, is not yet published. Still, a lot of people may welcome hearing about it and I'm one of them. I was really gung-ho about my neti pot when I bought it about a year ago. But while the warm water rinsing my nasal passages felt good and cleansing, I noticed that one of my sinuses kept feeling worse the more I neti-potted. I rarely use it now, and when I do, it's with trepidation.
So, I've fallen out of love with my neti pot. I know scads of people who still swear by theirs. What about you? Register your opinion about your neti pot by taking today's poll.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
December 11, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Alternative and Complementary Medicine , General Health , Is That Right? , Popular Procedures , Yoga
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