For those who may not
have much idea of the internal workings of the nasal cavities, it
may seem stupid to pour warm salty water through one's nose. To
help clear fears and misunderstandings, we have tried to explain
the procedure with diagrams.
The first line of nasal
defense is the tiny hair called “cilia” which should trap larger
particles entering the nose. These cilia are usually cleansed by
normal breathing and by blowing the nose, but sometimes, due to
a gradual build up of dirt, they can become clogged and may require
washing out. The entire nasal passage - from the nose tip to throat
(and beyond) - is covered with a layer of mucus. This mucus is secreted
from within the mucous lining, and its function is to trap smaller
foreign particles and bacteria. The dirty mucus is normally blown
out, snorted and coughed out or swallowed.
The sinus passages
are an even finer mechanism of filtering which, if infected, secrete
a runny mucus to evict the germs. This is generally called sinusitis
and can be a short term symptom or a chronic condition.
In Stage 1, the water
simply flows up one nostril to just above the bridge of the nose
where the usual air flows meet, backwards into the middle cavity
and then the water flows down and out the other side of the nose.
In this route, it passes by the frontal and mid nasal sinuses. In
Stage 1 there should be no flow of water back towards the throat
or into the mouth. When done correctly, there is very little sensation
as the water will be the same temperature as the blood, and the
salinity will be the same salinity as the blood. As a result, the
nose hardly notices the flow through.
In the more advanced
of Stages 2 and 3, only attempted after mastery of Stage 1, the
water flows fully through the whole nasal cavity, down the back
of the naso-pharynx and comes out through the mouth. In this route,
it passes by the post-nasal sinuses, cleansing all the nasal passages
more strongly. In neither version is there any discomfort or damage
to the nasal functions.
Ideally, at no stage,
should any water actually go up into the sinus passages or the Eustachian
tubes. However, this may happen if the practitioner breathes incorrectly
or blows too strongly when drying. This causes only momentary discomfort
and is not dangerous. In such an event, a few minutes of air-drying
will usually clear out any stray water droplets.
The way in which Jala
Neti rinses out the dirt and bacteria filled mucous lining would
be obvious to most people as the warm water loosens and dissolves
any internal build ups, and takes them outwards. But what may not
be so obvious is that, due to gravity and a venturi-effect, the
sinus passages are also drained by the vacuum pressure flow of the
water. Whereas it would normally be impossible to drain a “dead
end” cavity like the sinuses, Jala Neti achieves this ingeniously
For those with thick
mucus conditions as well as those with running sinuses, the relief
of sinus pressure can be felt within seconds. In a more detailed
examination, it would also be seen, that through the effect of osmosis
and capillary action, the blood vessels of the nose are stimulated
to cleanse as well.
The nose is the “air
conditioner” of the body. One of the many functions of the nose
is to regulate the temperature and humidity of the incoming air.
Some people have “dry noses” and suffer dry, crusty, nose bleed
type problems. Others are “wets”, with the constantly running sinuses
and the tissues always up their sleeve! Others have perpetual stuffy
and blocked nostrils. Regular practice of Jala Neti helps to establish
the correct working environment of temperature and humidity in the