by Wendy Kagan
Every time I get a head cold, my little neti pot stands there like a reproach to me. Psst, it seems to say. This is what I'm here for. Try me.
It happened last night, when I looked over at my trash basket filled to the brim with crumpled tissues. An angry red stripe blazed under my nose from the Kleenex assaults of the past two days. My neti pot sat there sweetly. How can you ignore me at a time like this?
A nasal irrigation device favored by yogis in the tradition of Ayurveda, the neti pot has been around for centuries. But it wasn't until a 2007 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show that the ceramic wonder penetrated the American consciouness. Endorsed by Oprah and her favorite MD, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the neti pot enjoyed newfound fame as a way to cleanse and clear the nasal passages, relieve sinus congestion and facial pain, and keep allergies and sinusitis at bay.
Right there on daytime TV, Americans got to see how it works. You fill the neti pot with about a cup of lukewarm water mixed with half a teaspoon of salt. Tilting your head to a 45 degree angle over your sink, you insert the gravy boat tip into one nostril and pour, letting the salty water spill out the other nostril. Then you refill and repeat on the other side. A sexy maneuver it is not. But neither is blowing your nose.
This morning I finally gave it a try. At first I sputtered and gagged and felt like I would drown, but eventually I got the hang of it. And you know what? It wasn't that bad. And I'll be damned if my trash basket isn't filling up a little more slowly today with crumpled tissues.