The simple, natural, and inexpensive technique of the saline sinus flush originates from within the system of Yoga. Descriptive references of sutra neti and jala neti, sinus cleansing kriyas, are found in the Gherenda Samhita, a classic Yoga text dating from the late 1600s or early 1700s. As Yoga was an oral tradition for centuries, it's unknown just how old the techniques really are.
Jala neti, flushing the sinuses with liquid, is easy to do at home and elsewhere. Traditionally performed with only a cupped hand of salt water and a sniffing action, the technique has evolved for comfort and efficiency. Modern jala neti is performed by using a neti pot, syringes, bulbs or even Water-Pik devices. All these choices are effective.
How to Do Jala Neti
The traditional method of jala neti requires no cup, no pot, no catheter, and no other fancy equipment. It can be done anywhere at almost any time without the need to be carrying anything with you. All you need is your hand and some salt water. It’s simple, and the mechanical force precipitated by the sucking action likely leads to a better debridement of the nasal mucosa than a passive stream of liquid provided by a neti pot.
Simply mix up some saline solution by dissolving ? teaspoon of non-iodinated table salt or sea salt into 250 ml of tap water (about one cup), and then pour the solution into your rounded hand until it's full. Lower your nose to your hand and breathe in deep. Try to pull as much of the liquid in as possible, letting it drain out your mouth. It won’t hurt to swallow it, but it’s not a great idea.
If sucking salt water up your nose doesn’t really work for you, then try the gentler neti pot version. Mix the saline solution as described above and put it into a commercial neti pot. Then place the spout of the neti pot snuggly into one nostril. Lean over the sink, tilting your head to the other side and bend slightly forward. When tilting the neti pot up, saline should drain from the higher nasal passage to the lower one, coming back out that lower nostril, or sometimes out of the mouth.
How Jali Neti Works
Many people don't understand how something as simple and inexpensive as jala neti can be effective. To figure out how it works, scientists have done some research. Their findings scientifically support the use of jala neti as an effective healing measure.
• Jala neti mechanically flushes out bacteria, viruses, dust, and allergens.
• Jala neti thins the remaining mucus so that sinuses and their ostia (openings) don’t clog leading to pressure and infection.
• Jala neti decreases swelling of the nasal mucosa for less stuffiness.
• Jala neti removes histamine, leukotrienes, and other naturally occurring chemical substances that provoke inflammation and discomfort.
• Regular practice of jala neti increases the frequency that cilia beat to remove mucus, crusty deposits of snot, and dusty debris. Cilia are tiny little hair-like structures that beat back and forth like windshield wipers clearing a windshield.
Medical guidelines in both the United States and Canada are now recommending nasal and sinus saline flushing for a variety of conditions. It's an effective and well-tolerated form of treatment for sinus congestion and nasal drip due to the common cold, allergies, and sinusitis. By using this natural method of healing, people have found they need less medication to control their symptoms. Some are even able to abandon pills and steroid sprays completely.
Beyond alleviating symptoms of sinus congestion and stuffiness, jala neti is a great daily kriya to help prevent their occurrence. It's one of Yoga's many gifts for holistic healing and health maintenance.