Thursday, April 9, 2009

Potheads, unite!

April seems to be the month of anniversaries around here. We've already celebrated Ides of Meatloaf (OK, belated) and Room Temperature Day, First Night's coming up, and I just realized that it was about a year ago we started the Cult of the Neti Pot. I've mentioned it before and have threatened to expound upon its virtues. Lucky you, today's the day!

Learning to love the neti pot
(or How My Family Became Potheads)

I'd heard about neti pots for years and they always kind of freaked me out. They were used by people who knew what 'macrobiotic' meant. You know, people who wore long, Indian-print skirts, never shaved, and nursed their kids until they were old enough to drive. I knew that in parts of the world they are part of the daily hygiene routine, as normal as brushing teeth, but that was there, not here. I grew up in the Midwest, the land of chlorinated public pools, and getting water up my nose ranked right up there with stepping on a wasp on the list of things I'd rather not ever do again. Even just thinking about putting water up there on purpose gave me a headache.

Mr. B had a really bad allergy season last spring and his doctor's nurse recommended a neti pot. He dutifully bought it and it sat around for a couple of weeks. I'd open the cabinet and peek at once in awhile, fascinated and repelled, and wonder exactly how in the hell it could possibly not suck. I mean, nasal irrigation sounded good in theory, but eewwww!

After one particularly miserable week, even with the help of our good friends Claritin and Flonase, he watched the instructional DVD (it must be really complicated, to warrant an instructional DVD, right?) and gave it a go. He's a brave, brave man.

He not only pronounced it do-able, but not sucky at all. And it relieved the congestion in his head and resulting post-nasal drip better than any of the medicines.

Well, OK then. Good for him. Glad that worked out for ya, fella.

Right around that time, I had a teacher conference for Young Son. I was shocked at her reports of oddball disruptive behaviors, inattention, and other things that seemed totally out of character and out of the blue. Like any mom of a boy, I wondered if these were signs of some sort of scary behavioral problems. Oh god.

While I frantically searched for explanations, it occurred to me that Young Son also had been having a miserable allergy season. I had been giving him Claritin on top of his usual Flonase. Claritin is supposed to be OK for kids, right? It's sold over-the counter in children's doses, with kites and flowers on the box and everything. But it was the only thing that had changed recently, so stop it I did, the very next day. And the Flonase, too, just for good measure. I'm a huge fan of 'Better living through chemistry' and all, but was time to think outside the chemical box.

Guess what? By the end of the week, Young Son was back to his happy, jolly self. That was a huge relief. But what to do with the allergies?

Enter the neti pot.

I made Mr. B demonstrate it for me to make sure he wasn't secretly writhing in agony, then I tried it. Yeah, it stung for a minute, but it cleared out a whole bunch of crud. Like a scary bunch. Having passed the Mom Test, I decided it was time to try it out on Young Son.

Now Young Son is not one to submit gracefully to something unfamiliar and a bit suspect just because this person who calls herself 'Mom' tells him it's OK. I had visions of having to hold him in a headlock and force the thing up his nose, but it turned out to be no big deal. My boyfriend did his demo thing while I casually remarked how cool it was that the water went in one nostril and out the other! And you can even talk! Wow! Yeah, I sold it hard. It's a gift.

I mixed up a fresh batch of saline, stuck the spout in Young Son's nose, showed him how to turn his head just so, and that's all there was to it. Honest!

I demonstrated it to the Ex so he could help Young Son. He and his wife jumped right on board. A few weeks later I demonstrated it to Evil Twin and her husband Mope when we met Back East. Mope fell in love with it and demonstrated it to their college-age son, who showed it to his frat brothers. Rumor has it their local drugstore couldn't keep the things in stock.

And that, my friends, was how we launched the Cult of the Neti Pot.

We still use it daily, sometimes twice. We take it with us on travel. It doesn't suck, I swear, and that's coming from me, the huge pussy! Call me Billy Mays, but I'm not ashamed to stand tall and proclaim this thing is the shiznit.

Hey, here's a bonus: It cuts way back on the nose-picking.

Wanna see how it works? Go ahead, you know you want to.

Note: Don't use regular table salt! UN-iodized only!

Below are some details for people who care. The rest of you are excused, but be sure to check in tomorrow for Friday's Rock!

Are they gone? OK, here's the scoop.

Here's the brand I bought. Most brands come with little saline packets, and you can get refills. They carry them at Walgreen's in my area. I use picking salt, which is un-iodized (very important!) fine-grain salt. I mix three parts salt to one part baking soda in a container and we use about 1/2 tsp per pot. I keep it in a little sugar bowl with a little spoon. Cute!

Also, the first few times I used it, it did sting a little, but nothing like getting a snoot full of pool water.

I found that plain salt without the baking soda can sting a little, as can using too much salt, or water that is too hot or too cold. They say shoot for body temp water, where you can't really tell what temp it is when you stick your finger in it. I usually go just a hair warmer because my hands are always cold. It won't take long for you to dial it in right where you want it.

So there you go. Yes, it's weird and foreign, but it works, and it's safe for kids. And you can talk while water comes out your nose. Doesn't get any better than that.


  1. Hiya Liz. First time reader, longtime pot head. ;) Congrats on being FOTD! Thanks for the video. I have a Neti pot sitting in my medicine cabinet that I only tried once and ended up sputtering like... well, like I'd inhaled a bunch of salty water. Hmmm. I guess I did something wrong. I'll try it your way.

  2. Aaaakkk!!! Do NOT use tap water!! Chlorine. This is where the sting comes from - use distilled water only. Pleeeeeze. This is hurting me to watch this lady putting tap water up her nose. Ohhhh shudders... Use distilled water, people. Or real spring water. Ahhh.

  3. Oh, and surprisingly, cool water works well, too. After you get used to warm, try cool. And you don't need the fancy gizmo, a cup works too. But you have to kind of inhale the water up your nose (plugging one nostril at a time.) Have a cup of warm, tepid, or cool distilled (or pure spring) water with sea salt, plug one nostril with finger whilst dipping your snout into water and "inhaling" not with your lungs, but rather using your mouth as sort of a vacumn, kinda hard to explain. (On second thought, maybe you should get the gizmo.) But cool or tepid water helps with the inflamation, helps open everything up better.

  4. @Julie: People with well water are OK, and we're lucky that our tap water has minimal chlorination. When I loved on the East Coast, tho - yikes! Also, with the pot, you don't want to inhale. I bet you could take a paper cup and pinch the side, then pour... oh, I'll shut up now. I'm getting all carried away.

    @Bev: Try just letting gravity do its thing. Don't inhale - you may be pulling the water in too deep.

    Gah! I'm acting like Ms-Know-It-All. Someone slap me, please.

  5. Came here from Cary's. Great page! You're a humorous read.

    Also, loved your comment on the True Office Confessions post hahaha.

  6. Ok, I tried it this morning - thinking of you. Don't you feel honored that some chick thinks of you whilst pouring water up her nostrils? You know you do.

    Anywho, it worked better this time! I think I like it... time will tell. Thanks for the tips!

  7. I like that. Can I use it in my ass, too?

  8. "I keep it in a little sugar bowl with a little spoon. Cute!"

    Oh. I thought that was something else in that bowl with a spoon. Explains a lot!

    --and Cary, yes you can! Fits nicely.

  9. Jebus, Cary! They make those in DISPOSIBLE containers, bro. Check the "I can't poo" aisle of your local pharmacy.


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