I first learned about a neti pot from my grandfather. Apparently he used to suffer from bad sinus afflictions regularly. A doctor recommended that he do a sinus rinse using a neti pot and that was forever changed. I paid no attention to my grandfather on this matter way back, but I inherited his sinus afflictions to some degree, coupled with seasonal allergies that have worsened in the last 6 years of living in Western North Carolina.
As an adult, I was re-introduced to the neti after I visited an Ayurvedic Medicine practitioner in 2009. Ayurvedic Medicine (rooted in Hindu philosophy and a Hindu system of healing from India) developed the neti pot thousands of years ago to purify the nasal passages. The practitioner suggested I try it during allergy season as I was having consistent headaches due to sinus pressure. I started with a daily practice, then went down to every other day. The headaches subsided and bonus, I could breathe better!
Essentially the neti pot looks like a little ceramic tea pot with a long spout. You fill the pot with a solution of non-iodized salt and lukewarm water and ‘rinse’ your nasal passages. Here are some detailed instructions:
Make sure to use sterile or distilled water. You can also use boiled and cooled tap water (boiled for 3-5 minutes, then cooled to lukewarm). This is a safety precaution to eliminate contamination from any bacteria that you DON’T want getting into your nasal passages. The neti pot holds about a cup of water, and a ¼ teaspoon of fine, non-iodized salt. Water should be warm to dissolve the salt, but cooled slightly to avoid any potential burning to the mucus membranes.
Standing in a shower, or over a sink, place the spout of the neti pot in one nostril and tip your head to the opposite side. The saline solution should enter one nostril and exit the other nostril. Use about half of the solution on the first nostril, then switch sides. You can pause to gently blow your nose on each side. This will help clean the nasal passages of excess mucus, debris, and allergens, and may also reduce post-nasal drip. If you have a deviated septum (many of us do) or narrow sinus cavities, regular, correct use of a neti pot can keep your secretions flowing easier.
I’ve been doing a daily neti practice for the past few weeks because allergy season is upon us and to help keep my nasal passages moist and clear as a virus protection. There are many things we can do as a preventative for colds, flus, and viruses and this is one of them. Stay well everyone!
A friend of mine that I met through the WAPF organization shared this recipe with me a couple of years back. She said, 'it's great on cooked greens! You won't be disappointed!' Well, right she was. I really love anything gingery and this one is full of bite. You could really use it on a number of dishes. But poured over cooked greens will certainly do the trick. Ginger is a great digestive tonic and anti-inflammatory. The lemon juice adds some Vitamin C. Tahini for dose of a healthy fat. And raw honey as an antibacterial, anti-fungal, and to boost immunity.
I modified her recipe below and just used about 3/4 cup of fresh ginger root with all other measurements the same.
Ginger Sauce, makes about 1.5 cups
1 ½ cups fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup honey
¼ cup tamari
2-3 TB water, to desired consistency
Bit of cold pressed, toasted sesame oil
Sauté diced ginger root in the toasted sesame oil for a few minutes (don't overcook it!). Blend with rest of ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
*Keeps in fridge for 1 week; freezes well.
Kitchari, or Kitchadi is a vegetarian stew made from cooked split mung beans and rice, usually basmati. It is a wonderful, nourishing, easily digestible food for everyone. Kitcharis are a core food in Ayurveda and it's where I first learned about them. Yellow split mung beans can be found on-line, or in many health food stores. Don't let the laundry list of ingredients deter you; the kitchari preparation is quite easy. Read on at the end for why this kitchari recipe is particularly useful for the lungs and bronchial ailments:
Lung Kitchari (serves 4)
½ cup white basmati rice
¼ cup split yellow mung beans
6 cups water
1 TB ghee
½ tsp ajwain seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp hing (asafetida)
1 stick of kombu seaweed
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cardamom seeds or powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 TB ghee (divided)
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced into 1” pcs
1 cup string beans or zucchini, chopped
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp turmeric
¾ Tsp rock salt
1 TB fresh ginger, minced
½ small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
½ tsp ground cumin
1 TB ground flaxseed
Wash rice and mung beans and rinse until the water is clear. Wash the sweet potatoes and dice them. Warm one TB of ghee in a medium saucepan. Add the ajwain seeds, cumin seeds, and hing. Cook for a moment until the seeds sizzle. Add the sweet potato plus the kombu stick, rice, mung beans, and water. Cook for about 45 minutes.
Warm the other TB of ghee in a small skillet. Add the coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, and ginger. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Then stir in the rest of the spices, onion, and garlic cloves and cook another couple of minutes. Put this spice mixture into the rice and mung. Add the other vegetables and the flax meal and 1 to 1 1/2 cup of water. Cook 20 minutes more.
Adapted from the Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar
*Amadea writes – this is an excellent kitchari for fighting winter ailments. Ajwain and ginger work to decongest the lungs, while the onion and garlic warm and stimulate the immune system and circulation. Sweet potato is rich in Vitamin A, which soothes the lung membranes and supports the immune system. Flaxseed will enhance clearing of the lungs.
Insights and Inspirations on nutrition, food, wellness, recipes, and more! All posts by Jaime Frinak.