I've tried many remedies: prescribed and over-the-counter cold medications that were equally ineffective and nasal sprays that made the inside of my nose raw and painful. Nothing worked like I felt it really should until I tried the neti pot.
The name refers to an Ayurvedic technique called "jala neti," which means "water cleaning." The pot is just a simple, miniature teapot that's used to deliver the water into your snout.
You can also use a simple syringe or even an enema bottle.
Saline solution with no additives is what's used. You can cook up your own on your stove, mixing in 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt into a liter of water at the lowest temperature possible. Ideally, the recipe calls for a saline solution made from distilled water and iodine-free salt. Kosher or sea salt works well. The mixture should be warm, around 100 degrees.
Turn your head sideways over your sink and seal the nozzle of your neti pot to your nostril. Gently pour the solution into your nose until it trickles out the other nostril, into the sink. Breathe normally through your mouth. When the pot is empty, switch sides.
There are two more stages to jala neti if you're feeling adventurous: You can, after some practice, snort the water into the deep sinus cavities and spit it out through your mouth. Harder still, and considered an advanced yoga technique, is forcing the water from your mouth out through the nose.
Though the idea of pouring water up your nose is a little intimidating at first, the process is as effective as it is ancient and leaves you able to breathe clearly and sharply through both nostrils.
CONTACT STEPHEN CARTER-NOVOTNI: snovotni(at)citybeat.com