spring cleaning… your nose!

Sounds delightful, doesn’t it! And hardly in keeping with the refined and beautiful palace and surrounds of Ananda in the Himalayas. However jal neti, the pouring of salt water up one nostril and down the other, is a cornerstone of an Ayurvedic detox and great for respiratory issues. Just remember to breathe through your mouth or it’s even better for streaming eyes and choking.


I had never tried ‘Ayurvedic nasal irrigation’ until my stay at Ananda in the Himalayas. As a regular hay fever sufferer my nose is delicate, and just the thought of pouring salt water up it had my eyes watering. But if it helps with allergies, as well as sinusitis, congestion and headaches, then I was happy to give it a go.

Could 5,000 years of Indian traditional medicine be wrong?

Take 1 litre of lukewarm sterilised or distilled water
And 1 teaspoon of natural salt
Add both to your neti pot and mix

Now the clever stuff. Work out which nostril is clearer.
If the left, tip the head to the right while bent over a sink, until the vertical length of your nose is parallel to the floor.
Insert the spout into your left nostril and gently pour while breathing through your mouth.
If the right, then vice versa.

That first pour is the moment of truth. With my size-challenged nostrils it was laughably difficult to force the spout of the pot up my nose in the first place, but giggles aside, the water behaved beautifully, flowing up my left nostril, and then doing a U-turn down the right one and pouring into the sink below me. No salt water down my throat. Minimal eye watering. And no nasty surprises flowing into the sink.

My therapist Deepti’s comment was, “Ha! Amazing!” delivered with a triumphant ‘nothing to be scared about’ tone. And she waved me off with the neti pot as a gift to take home. I should do this every other day she counseled. Uhuh.

The treatment is not without its controversy – the Internet reports two deaths after people used tap water, when an amoeba infected them with a neurological disease. So only use distilled or sterilized water, and clean and dry the pot between uses.

Two days later my detox sched had me repeating the exercise. I wasn’t nervous but this time my nose wasn’t as clear. The pause before the water emerged had my eyes watering. I tried not to hold my breath and finally water plus gravity equaled a healthy stream.

The acid test – would I do it at home? Well, err, so far not, but maybe one sneezy summery day…

If you’re looking to buy a neti pot you can order a beautifully blinged-up pink version at The Himalayan Institute.
Also Hong Kong’s Integrated Medical Institute sells them.