A nasal bidet, also known as a neti pot, is a squat pitcher with a tapered, elongated spout used in nasal cleansing or irrigation. Nasal bidets have been used for centuries in India as a part of the Ayurvedic medical system and have recently gained both popularity and approval from the medical community in the West. Users of a nasal bidet fill it with warm saline solution, insert the tip of its spout into one nostril, tilt their head so the liquid runs through their nasal passage and sinus cavity, and then repeat the process in the other nostril. This process thins nasal mucus and allows the cilia, thin structures in the sinuses and nasal passages, to move more freely, pushing out the mucus, irritants, and bacteria that contribute to nasal congestion.
For many years, people living in the industrialized West could have a hard time finding and buying a nasal bidet. If someone wanted a neti pot, she typically had to buy one at a health food store or order one by mail. However, since medical doctors began to recommend nasal cleansing to their patients with sinus problems, neti pots have become easier to find. In fact, many drugstores sell both plastic and ceramic neti pots over the counter. A commercially sold nasal bidet may also come with packets of a pre-mixed saline solution that can be added to warm water for use with the device.
Other methods of nasal irrigation also exist, offering users alternatives to using a pot. Some people perform nasal irrigation by using a syringe or squeeze bottle. Others simply prepare a saline solution, take it into the shower, and then inhale the solution from their cupped hand while taking advantage of the nasal passage–opening steam produced by the hot shower water.
While solutions for use in a nasal bidet can be found in stores, many people choose to make their own solutions at home. The basis of a neti pot solution is salt, which should be pure and without additives. Many table salts include both iodine and an anti-caking agent, so it is generally best to use pickling salt, which is usually additive-free. Baking soda is another common ingredient in neti pot solution recipes, and some even call for glycerin, which can help prevent drying of the nasal passages. Nasal bidet users should be cautious about adding other ingredients to rinse solutions, as the ingredients may further irritate the nasal membranes, making their condition worse.