Home remedies passed down from generation-to-generation often don’t do much to cure an ailment. However, there’s one ancient home remedy that really can help you breathe easier.
Unlucky for me, I’m one of the 36 million Americans who have chronic sinus troubles. I have to be honest; the thought of flushing my nose with saline water really grossed me out. Then I started getting sinus infections over and over again. I had six in one year and at that point, I was willing to try just about anything to stop the vicious cycle. And guess what? I started rinsing and I started feeling better.
Dr. Donald Donovan, otolaryngologist at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, says that nasal irrigation is the ancient Hindu practice of using warm salt water (or saline) to flush out the gunk that builds up in nasal passages and causes infections.
“This is one home remedy that works,” Dr. Donovan says. “We have seen it work well in people with stuffiness, sinus pain and other chronic conditions. If you do it right, it can be very soothing and effective.”
The saline solution is simple to make: just add ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to about 8 ounces of water. Dr. Donovan explains that you need to use kosher salt because it doesn’t have iodine or additives that can irritate the nose. If you don’t want to make it yourself, NeilMed makes pre-mixed packets that you can buy at your neighborhood pharmacy. To get the solution into your nose, you can purchase an inexpensive pot or bottle which is also available at most pharmacies or can be purchased online. They usually only cost a few bucks.
However, Dr. Donovan warns that nasal irrigation won’t get rid of an infection once it has taken hold in your body. “You can use irrigation to clear out thick secretions caused by a cold but it won’t get rid of the infection. You either have to use medication to reduce inflammation or let the infection run its course.”
Also, if you’re a chronic allergy sufferer, irrigation may help alleviate some symptoms in the short term, but Donovan says more traditional treatments are usually needed.
Another positive? “Nasal irrigation is inexpensive enough to just stop if you find it’s not for you,” Donovan adds. “Many people swear by it, because it’s safe and natural. And it is very easy.”
Have you ever tried a saline rinse? What home remedies work for you?