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How to Safely Use Your Neti Pot and Perform Ritual Nasal Cleansings

Posted Jun 26 2012 6:00am

Neti pots are a popular and successful treatment for sinus pain but news has circulated about Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba which was reportedly transmitted in two cases through the use of Neti pots. The amoeba traced to the New Orléans water supply and in both cases the people had used neti pots with tap water. While some may be scared away from this natural treatment, there is no need for fear. Following instructions for your neti pot allows you to enjoy the benefits without risking your health and safety. Those who perform ritual nasal cleanings can also stay safe with the following information.

Here is how to safely use your neti pot to avoid or ease sinus pain and perform ritual nasal cleansings.

neti pot

One example of a neti pot

Naegleria fowleri, which also goes by N. Fowleri, is a one-celled amoeba found in warm bodies of water as well as soil. It’s actually quite common and recently it’s been found in some drinking water supplies in the United States. However, it is commonly found worldwide.  The CDC reports in 2008, 13 Muslims in Pakistan contracted Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis caused by N. fowleri. In these cases their religion was critical in causality as Muslims take part in  ritual ablution , cleansing of the nostrils with water. The amoeba enters the nasal cavity and is drawn to brain where its presence leads to Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis which thus far has proven fatal in all cases. However, even when the amoeba is found in a water supply, steps can make the water viable for nasal rinsing and ritual cleansing.

Distilled water is boiled water which is than condensed with its steam draining into a clean container. This removes impurities. It is quite common and readily available in most grocery stores. Distilled water is often preferred over tap water because of its absence of chemicals like fluoride and is required for humidifiers. Distilled water is also allowed for use in ritual cleansings like Wudu, a Muslim cleansing ritual.

Filtered water is purified through a process of screening using straining systems or with the addition of chemicals. Since the act of Wudu requires clean water, s with most religious rituals, purified water is allowed. Again, filtered was is available, usually inexpensively, at grocery stores or vending machines.

For those who do not want to spend money on water, tap water is safe to use for nasal cleansing so long as it is boil. Boiling water for five minutes removes the dangers of amoebas and other harmful microbes. By the time the water is brought to boiling point, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens are destroyed. For safety, the water should be allowed to rapid boil for an extra minute. Once boiled, cover the water and allow to cool to the appropriate temperature, usually body temperature, for nasal rinsing.

N. fowleri. does not survive long without moisture so the best way to avoid contamination is by allowing your cleaned neti pot to air dry. Use soap and warm water for cleaning and allow the pot to dry undisturbed away from water. Most neti pots are also dishwasher safe for more thorough sanitizing.

For more information on N. fowleri please visit the Center for Disease Control’s fact page.

{neti pot photo via  Chiotsrun  on Flickr}

Have you given up your neti pot because of these news stories? Are you willing to use them following these directions?


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