Now that spring is officially here so are seasonal allergies! Growing up in Atlanta, I always had seasonal allergies. I remember my dad’s car covered in yellow pollen this time of year. We all had runny noses, itchy eyes, and the occasional sore throat. Today I’m going to share two of my favorite Ayurvedic allergy remedies, the Neti Pot and Nasaya oil.
Since moving out west years ago my allergies changed because the pollen count was so much lower in the cities I have lived in. Another reason my allergy symptoms improved is from using a Neti Pot. I actually learned about the Neti pot from watching one of my favorite shows, Six Feet Under. Ruth’s second husband, George gifts her son David a Neti Pot during his birthday dinner. After seeing this I hopped online to learn about them and started using it.Neti Pots are an ancient Ayurvedic tool for sinus irrigation. Neti is sanskrit for ‘nasal cleansing’. Neti pots work by flooding the nostrils with slightly warm, salted water. To use the neti pot fill it with salt water and place the spout in one nostril. See it in action here. I just couldn’t bring myself to get a photo taken of me using it for the blog, seemed too weird even for me ;)
When you live in a place that has a high pollen count or in a polluted city like Los Angeles, there are loads of particles floating around in the air. These tiny particles get stuck in your sinuses and irritate the tissue. Flushing out the sinuses helps remove the debris that can cause an allergic reaction and provide incredible allergy symptom relief. For results that last it is suggested to use the neti pot everyday during allergy season.
You can also use a Neti Pot when you have a cold. The warm saline can help loosen, flush out, and thin mucous. This also helps to relieve symptoms of post nasal drip. If your sinuses are super clogged the water might not drain through but it can still help to thin the mucous. When sick use the Neti Pot when you can. I find it works best as a preventative measure.
Here are the major benefits of using a neti pot, source, Everyday Health:
- Clears the nostrils to allow free breathing
- Removes excess mucous
- Reduces pollen or allergens in nasal passages
- Relieves nasal dryness
- Reduces cold and flu symptoms
- Alleviates sinus headaches
- Improves sense of smell and taste
- Reduces snoring
Neti Pots have been widely researched for their effectiveness and it is conclusive that keeping the Neti Pot clean and using distilled water in the pot are key factors. Clean your Neti Pot well after each use and give it a good rinse before using. Whenever I am sterilizing jars for fermenting or running a load of dishes in the washer I add my Neti Pot. Store yours in a place where it won’t collect a bunch of dust—you don’t want that going into your nose when you are trying to flush it out!
Next up I want to share about Nasaya oil. This herbally infused Ayurvedic oil saved my sinuses living in such a dry and polluted city. When an excess of bodily fluids accumulates in the sinus, throat, nose or head areas, it is best eliminated through the nose. Using Nasya oil helps facilitate this cleansing process. Nasya oil soothes and protects the nasal passages and helps relieve sinus congestion.
Nasaya oil also works to combat anxiety, fear, and stress. In Ayurveda, the nose is the passage way to higher consciousness (the brain) and breathing in herbs like brahmi, calamus, skullcap, and eucalyptus help to promote clarity, a sense of calm, and restores balance. Nasaya is especially helpful to Vata types who are more prone to living in their heads.
My favorite way to use this healing oil is to put a couple of drops on my finger and massage the inside of each nostril. Some folks like to lie down and drop the oil up their nose but this never felt good to me. The massage method is much more nurturing and really helps to ground you in the moment.
There is conflicting testimony on whether you should use Nasaya oil after cleansing your nasal passages with the neti pot. Deepak Chopara says yes, Banyan Botanicals says no. The theory behind the no stance is that you should wait until your sinuses have completely drained before using Nasaya oil. If you have ever used a Neti Pot you might be familiar with some water coming out of your nostrils up to an hour after you used the pot. This has happened to me on more than one occasion and it always makes me laugh. It’s nothing to be alarmed about!
I like to use Nasaya oil before I go to bed because I live in such a dry climate. Applying it before bed helps me wind down, soothes my nose, and promotes a more restful sleep. I also like to use a little Nasaya oil before meditation, it is a wonderful way to open your senses and connect deeply to the present moment.
Experiment with the Neti Pot and Nasaya oil and see what works best for you. Please note Nasaya oil is contraindicated during pregnancy, menstruation, immediately before or after eating, while intoxicated, or with an acute fever.
Neti Pot Rinse
Mix the salt with the water in a glass until dissolved. Pour half of the water into your neti pot. Stand over the sink and lean forward. Tilt your head to one side and carefully insert the spout of the neti pot into one nostril. Raise the handle of the neti pot to allow the water to flow through and out the opposite nostril. Repeat on the other side.
To see what it looks like watch this video.
Exhale several times over the sink to clear your nose and wash up with warm water.
To clear excess water (and if you don’t have a head cold) bend over at the waist and let your head hang down, return to standing. Repeat this simple forward bend a few times and wipe up any remaining drainage with a tissue.
Finish up with a little Nasaya oil or wait a couple of hours before using it.
Wishing you an allergy-free spring.
// Photos by Asami Zenri