OK, it's been on Oprah now, so it's no longer big news. Still, I can't help but think that a lot of people would still like to know more about an ancient nasal allergy cure that has made the lives of thousands of people a heck of a lot easier.
I flush my nasal passages out every day during the allergy season, and I am happy to hear that Oprah does the same thing. Here's how it's done: Mix a quarter-teaspoon of noniodized salt with 8 ounces of lukewarm water. Tilt your head over a sink and pour 4 ounces of the solution into one nostril, then wait for it to exit the other nostril. Then switch nostrils and repeat using the remaining 4 ounces.
It's often done with what is called a "Neti Pot." Sometimes people will use a simple squirt bottle like a ketchup bottle that you'd see on the table at a Denny's.
Irrigation is particularly helpful for allergy patients who have mucus that's just plain hard to blow out with a regular sneeze. Rinsing it out can be very beneficial for those with this type of persistent mucus. I use it in combination with an herb called Kan Jang, and it is a great combination.
According to the current Harvard Women's Health Watch, irrigation has been shown to lower bacteria levels, ease the symptoms of sinusitis and, in some cases, reduce the risk of getting a sinus infection.
Neti pots are widely available – they sell for about $15 at Whole Foods Market – but some use the aforementioned squeeze bottle and salt water for much less. Personally, I find the neti pot much easier to use as it has been designed with this purpose in mind.
One reason nasal irrigation hasn't been more widely used before now is that some are uncomfortable with the initial feeling of having water move from one side of the nose, through the nasal passages, and out the other side. It IS a bit of an unusual feeling.
"It is kind of weird, putting water up your nose," says one regular user of the neti pot. "But it doesn't go down your throat at all, if you're doing it right."
And you'll enjoy a few hours of blessed relief from the allergies, which makes the slight inconvenience worthwhile.