Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Does Using a Neti Pot Prevent the Flu?

The original URL for this page is If you are reading this anywhere else (i.e. copied/plagiarized), please select the URL for the latest information and discussion on this subject.

First off, I am not a Doctor. This blog does not condone the use of Neti to preclude seeking medical help. Please remember the flu can kill! It's not my intent that you get the idea that you can skip seeing your doctor just by using your neti pot. The blog is merely meant to provide discussion concerning a personal curiosity of mine. There are both sides to the UNPROVEN argument of the title of this blog page. This page is meant to provide a forum for this discussion.

Many are familiar with the neti pot. An offshoot of Yoga, the practice gained some popularity in the U.S., mainly due to Oprah featuring it once on her show. The benefits of neti are primarily to provide nasal and sinus congestion relief. That it does very well. Am not going to go much further into describing neti, other than to suggest doing a simple Google search on the term "Jala Neti" if you wish more information on the subject.

The above being said, some people have suggested possible side benefits of using neti pots that go beyond merely providing congestion relief. One suggested benefit is cold and flu prevention, or at least mitigation, reducing the probability or severity of coming down with these ailments. Unfortunately, a search of the internet reveals no research on this matter (If any of the readers are aware of a scientific paper or article on this subject, please post a link in the discussion forum below).

About five years ago, I began regular use of the neti pot to aid in allergy and sinus relief. It worked much better than anticipated. Using the neti, I found it greatly relieved allergy nasal congestion that I had previously learned to take for granted. Now I found that I was no longer a member of the realm of "mouth breathers", and that I could also sleep much better due to the newfound ability to breathe easily through the nose.

But there was something else that I noticed. Prior to the neti pot, I was a regular candidate for colds and the flu. Like clockwork, every year I would come down with the latest flu raging through my local area. But since taking up the neti, I have not come down with a single cold or flu in five years! Now this could be just pure luck on my part. But the coincidence of timing with my start of regularly using a neti pot caught my curiosity. Doing simple internet searches, I came upon several theories that seemed plausible, but have no real scientific basis or data. These unsubstantiated theories include:

Theory 1 - Regular flushings at least twice a day with the neti pot cleanses the nasal passages where the flu virus attempts to incubate. The flushings prevent the virus from ever gaining a strong enough foothold within the nasal passages, keeping the virus numbers in check long enough that the bodies immune system can overcome it before spreading throughout the body.

Theory 2 - For best flu fighting, regular neti flushings should be conducted with salt water slightly warmer than body temperature. As live flu virus are somewhat susceptible to elevated temperatures, the warm water temperature may synergistically enhance the flu fighting effects by not only flushing the virus from the body, but actually killing off some of the virus.

Theory 3 - The necessary post-neti "Drying Steps" to remove excess water (see this link if unfamiliar) also eject accumulated material that may harbor flu virus, providing additional easing for the body's natural defenses to overcome.

This blog includes a discussion comments forum below, where the readers can relate their own flu-fighting (or lack of) experience with the neti. Readers are encouraged to participate. Additionally, polls are included in the right-hand column to help provide some basis to back or debunk the above theories. Please feel free to provide your input.

Some References: - Lists the most prevalent statements concerning flu prevention, and attempts to provide clarification on their validity. - 8 Steps to Prevent the Winter Flu.

The Yoga Dojo - Dr. Goyal's six simple tips for H1N1 flu prevention.

Health and article 1 & article 2 - Proponents of theory that neti use keeps flu at bay until bodies natural defenses can overcome it. - article that incorrectly attributes Dr. Oz claiming that neti prevents flu (he actually says it "keeps your sinuses and passages clear").

International NGO Journal - article describing Yogic techniques (including Jala Neti) for the prevention of swine flu.