The practice of saline nasal wash or lavage (called Neti in the yoga tradition) is a time honored folk remedy for a variety of respiratory complaints, as well is a simple and effective tool for maintaining nasal health. The technique is simple, and if practiced correctly, provides gentle and immediate relief of nasal congestion.
The keys to comfortable nasal lavage are concentration and temperature. The solution should have the same salt concentration as your tears (0.9%) and be warmed to normal body temperature or a bit warmer. If the salt concentration is too low or too high, the experience can be very unpleasant (like getting water up your nose when you are swimming). Water that is too cool will cause the nasal membranes to swell, defeating the purpose of the wash. Water that is too hot will burn the sensitive nasal mucosa.
The solution should be prepared with water and a pure, non-iodized salt. Canning and pickling salt is pure (99.95% NaCl), cheap, and readily available (you can buy it at any supermarket that carries canning supplies). Kosher salt is an acceptable alternative, as well as sea salt.
The amount of salt you need to add will depend upon both the volume of water you use and the texture of the salt you select (the coarser the grind, the more you need).
1 cup filtered water
It may be very difficult to get past the initial revulsion and fear of choking, but once tried it can be both comfortable and soothing.
Jeannette Raskin practices at Family First Chiropractic, 142 Erickson Drive, Red Deer, Alberta. 403-347-3261. www.family1stchiro.ca.