Advanced and more effective nasal irrigation (jala neti) technique

Hip

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Years ago I devised a more effective "advanced" technique of nasal and sinus irrigation.

In this thread I am I going provide details of this technique, in case it is useful for anyone with chronic sinusitis or other sinus issues. My technique gets a lot more saline solution (salty water) into the sinus cavities, so this technique should be better at clearing out sinus infections and sinus toxins.

Nasal irrigation has a long history in Indian yoga, where it is called jala neti. Standard medical nasal irrigation is effectively the same as jala neti. But the standard nasal irrigation approach is not very efficient, because although it irrigates the nasal cavity well, it does not get a sufficient quantity of saline solution into the sinus cavities.

The images below show the standard approach to nasal irrigation / jala neti.

Nasal irrigation using plastic bottle.jpg Jala neti using neti pot.jpg
Left: nasal irrigation using NeilMed sinus rinse bottle. Right: jala neti using neti pot

When you irrigate your nasal cavity using the standard technique, not much saline gets into your sinuses because the sinus cavities are separate chambers connected to the nasal cavity by tiny openings or holes. These narrow openings connecting the sinuses to the nasal cavity are called sinus ostia (singular: ostium).

In the nasal cavity image below, the black dots represent the sinus ostia. When you use nasal irrigation, the saline has to pass through these tiny holes in order to enter the sinuses. But because the holes are so small, it is difficult to get the saline solution to pass through them.

Furthermore, many of these ostia are located on the top part of the nasal cavity, which may thus be above the water line in your nose as you irrigate the nasal cavity with salty water, so it may be impossible to get the saline through these higher ostia.

The nasal cavity: the black dots represent
the tiny openings (ostia) into the sinus cavities

sinus ostia.jpg

To try to get the saline to flow into these higher ostia in the nasal cavity, my first thought was to invert my head upside down while my nasal cavity was filled with saline.

To do this head inversion, I first filled my nasal cavity completely full with warm saline using a neti pot (done by looking upwards towards the ceiling while pouring in the saline). While still looking upwards, I then held my nostrils closed by pinching my nose with thumb and forefinger.

Finally, with the nose still pinch closed, I tucked my chin into my chest, and bent downwards until my head was level with my knees. This effectively inverts the head upside down. In this bent downwards body position, your nasal cavity is rotated upside down like this:

Your nasal cavity when your head is inverted upside down
sinus ostia upside down with blue water line.png
If the nasal cavity is fully filled with saline before you invert your head, the sinus ostia will all be immersed underwater once you place your head upside down (because the salty water level in your nasal cavity will be approximately up to the blue horizontal line shown in the image).

However, even in this upside down position, I found that not much saline gets in to the sinuses. And I realized why: it is because the sinus cavities are full of air, and the air cannot get out very easily, as the sinus openings (ostia) are very small. So if the air cannot escape, this means the saline cannot get in to the sinuses.

But there is an easy fix to this: while in this head upside down position, and with the nasal cavity full of saline, and with your nose still pinched closed, you close your mouth also, and then exert a suction or vacuum within your nasal cavity, by strongly breathing in with your lungs. Note: as long as you are upside down, the saline will not run down your throat.

Hold this suction for say 10 seconds, and then release the suction, re-open your mouth, and continue to breathe normally through your mouth for 20 seconds or so. But remain with your head inverted, down by your knees. And keep your nose pinched shut. Then repeat the process: close you mouth again, and create the suction again. You want to repeat this cycle several times.

Let me explain what happens during this suction process: while you are holding that suction for 10 seconds, air is pulled out of your sinuses through the ostia, and bubbles out into the saline in your nasal cavity. Then when you later release this suction, the saline in the nasal cavity rushes back through the ostia, into the sinuses to replace the air just sucked out. So in this way, you are able to get saline into your sinus cavities very efficiently.

Once you have repeated this suck-release cycle several times, and your sinuses are then filled with saline, you are nearly done. You can now stand up straight again, and just gently clear the excess saline out of your nasal cavity, and take a break for a minute or two, allowing the saline in the sinuses to do its job of purging and cleaning out the sinus infection or toxins.

After a minute's break, the final task is getting the saline out of the sinus cavities. This is easy, all you do is this: continue standing upright, and again pinch your nose closed so it is airtight, and again suck to create a vacuum in your nasal cavity. Create a nice strong suction, and this will pull most of the saline back out of your sinuses and into your nasal cavity. Then you can just blow this saline out into the sink, or into a tissue.

I have used this advanced nasal and sinus irrigation techniques hundreds of times for many years, and find it works well.

Note: after doing this advanced nasal and sinus irrigation, you may find little runs of saline occasionally coming out of your nose over the next few hours. This is a good sign, as it means you did a good job in filling your sinus cavities with saline, and it's just the last remaining drips of saline from the sinuses that are coming out slightly later.
 
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One thing I'd like to add to @Hip's suggestion is that, if you do irrigate your sinuses it's a good idea to use either distilled water, sterile water (you can purchase these by the gallon at most pharmacies), or water that you have boiled for at least a few minutes and let cool. There can be small levels of bacteria and other organisms in tap water, and although these are safe to drink it is possible that they could cause infection in the nasal passages and sinuses.

Also, it's good practice to rinse out the neti pot or bottle and dry it completely after each use to discourage bacteria growth. If you irrigate you want to make sure that you're getting rid of infection in your sinuses, not inadvertently causing a new one!
 

Hip

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Interestingly enough, about 25 years ago, I managed to completely cure my pretty bad hay-fever by using this "advanced" technique of nasal and sinus cleaning, along with taking lots of echinacea, vitamin C and gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a supplement which was legal to buy at that time (GHB is also known as sodium oxybate or Xyrem).

Though I suspect GHB did most of the work, as GHB greatly increases growth hormone output, and growth hormone has been shown to prevent autoimmune diabetes, so perhaps may also modulate the immune system to quell allergies.