Nasal rinse a natural remedy for congestion

Using sinus rinseSeveral months ago the sleep doctor recommended I start using NeilMed Sinus Rinse to relieve nasal congestion. Before trying I was freaked out by the idea of sending a stream of saline through my nose, but it brought immediate relief. As we enter cold season it is becoming even more valuable. I am delighted to have found such a simple, natural remedy.

I have persistent post-nasal drip due to household allergies. It is particularly bothersome at bedtime. I might be fine all day but when I lie down to sleep everything starts to relax, shift and tickle. That is when the coughing starts.

The doctor suggested a nasal rinse before bed would help me get to sleep. The NeilMed bottle works much like a neti pot, used in traditional Indian medicine for nasal cleansing. She also gave me a formula: ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in 240 ml (8 oz) of distilled water. NeilMed does not recommend using anything but the pharmaceutical grade salt and soda contained in their single-dose sachets. However, the doctor’s recipe has worked fine for me. Do not use plain water; it will sting. So will plain saline. The soda buffers it slightly to match body chemistry.

I am not comfortable about the environmental impact of using so much distilled water. My partner and I already need it for our CPAP machines (for sleep apnea), where it is not optional. However, running water directly from the tap through your nose will give a bad swimming pool feeling. I boil a kettle of water to remove the chlorine and let it sit overnight. Tap water treated this way still contains some minerals that impart a mildly unpleasant odour, but I stopped noticing after a few uses.

I start by heating the water to lukewarm. The NeilMed bottle is microwave safe. Then add the sea salt and baking soda vigorously to dissolve it. The tube in the bottle draws water from the bottom so it can be held upright. Lean forward over the sink, insert the bottle top in the nostril and squeeze a steady flow until it runs out the opposite nostril. Use half the bottle. Blow all the water out, then repeat with the other side. It is best to employ the treatment 10 minutes before going out or going to bed because some water might hide in a recess and decide to come out later, but this has never happened to me. Refer to the NeilMed instruction booklet for more details.

I thought the sensation would be uncomfortable or that I would choke. In fact you are supposed to breathe normally through your mouth during the treatment. I have never choked. The most significant sensation of that first treatment was the incredible relief of washing out the congestion. It felt so good I thought I might become addicted, but after a few weeks I have settled down to using it once or twice a day. It can safely be used as often as needed.

This week I have a mild cold. One day I had a stuffy nose, not runny—just pressure in back that would not release. I tried a sinus rinse and it worked wonderfully, washing out some of the congestion. Some pressure remained in the irritate membranes, but it quickly relaxed. The dragon went to sleep. With one or two treatments a day I have prevented the cold from progressing to sinusitis. It has caused only minor discomfort and hardly any sneezing. So it is also a natural cold remedy.

Anything that can reduce my reliance on pharmaceutical drugs makes me happy. Doctors and nurses endlessly peave me with their insistence on recommending steroid sprays or antihistamines to treat allergies perpetually. Antihistamines have lost all effectiveness and I do not trust the side effects of long-term use. I already need two other medications and one dietary supplement to keep me healthy, but the fewer the better.

Saline solution is essentially a recreation of the primordial waters from which life emerged. It is hard to imagine a simpler natural health remedy. Thank you, Dr. E.


Nasal rinse a natural remedy for congestion — 3 Comments

  1. The picture is comic, but the cause is definitely not. I get chronic and variable nasal congestion for no apparent reason, and I also have sleep apnea despite the fact that I do not smoke nor am I overweight. It’s very strange, and it’s taken me years to get to the point of keeping the damn CPAP mask *on* all night

    I’ve tried the neti pot as well as Dr Andrew Weil’s recommendation for a similar rinse of plain water warmed up to lukewarm with a tiny bit of salt. As I recall, you put the salted water in a shallow bowl or saucer, lean forward and close one of your nostrils with a finger, then draw the water into the other nostril by inhaling very gently, and then letting the water run out of your mouth into the sink. Kind of inelegant compared to the neti pot but I found it wasn’t a bad method when I didn’t have one of those pots.

    • I would be nervous about inhaling water that way, but I was afraid of using the bottle the first time, and it has turned out to be easy and comfortable to use. My nasal congestion is similarly mysterious. I was tested for allergies about 20 years ago and know I’m allergic to dust mites, but that can’t account for all the problems I have. I am scheduled to see an allergist next month, but I had to wait 10 months for the appointment.

  2. Since dairy is a likely culprit, try phasing dairy out of your diet for one month. If you experience no change in your symptoms, you’ve ruled out dairy as a possible allergen. If you experience an improvement in symptoms, you know that your body reacts to dairy by producing more mucus, although studies indicate a no clear link between dairy and mucus production.’`*:

    Over and out

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