Sinus irrigation with salt water, also known as “nasal lavage” or “nasal irrigation” is a procedure that acts to dislodge mucous and draw out infection in order to cleanse the nasal passages and ensure free air flows through both nostrils. The airborne pollutants (dust, dirt, pollen and other irritants) that get trapped by the nasal mucosa can easily be washed away by this simple procedure.

It is particularly helpful in cases of:

  • Colds
  • Nasal and sinus allergies
  • Acute and chronic sinusitis and/or rhinitis
  • Post sinus and nasal surgeries
  • CPAP users with sleep apnea
  • Oxygen users
  • And almost any acute or chronic condition where one feels excessive mucus and/or pain in the nasal and sinus passages

Many people have infection behind the nose that is typically known as sinusitis. The idea behind the nasal lavage program is to reduce the chronic infection so the body can heal itself. Frequently, antibiotics are not able to resolve these infections but the long-term use of nasal lavage may prove extremely beneficial. To begin, use at least 2-3 times per day. As your condition improves you will be able to reduce the frequency of this procedure.

Materials needed:

  • NetiPot or rubber bulb syringe – available in local pharmacies and health food stores for specific nasal washing use. Also, a product called NeilMed Sinus Rinse can be used (available online at
  • Salt – ¼ of finely ground salt; or ½ tsp if using coarse varieties such as kosher or sea salt. The salt should be pure, non-iodized, and have no additives in it, as indicated on the label.
  • 8 oz. of boiled water – as clean, filtered, and free of contaminants as possible


  1. Start by pouring 8 oz. of the freshly boiled water into a NetiPot, or a bowl if using a rubber bulb syringe. Add the salt to the water and allow it to dissolve. Or alternatively, add just enough hot water to dissolve the salt, then add the remainder as cold water.
    Note: The resulting saline solution should not burn and should be only as salty as tears.
  2. Let the mixture cool until just above body temperature (98.6°F/37°C).
    Note: Water that is too cool may increase congestion, while water that is too warm may cause irritation of the delicate lining of the nose.
  3. Lean over the sink so that you are looking directly into the basin then rotate your head to the side so that one nostril is directly above the other. The forehead should remain level with the chin or slightly higher. Insert the NetiPot or bulb syringe with the warm salt water solution into the upper nostril and let it drain out through the lower. You should be able to breath comfortably through your mouth. If the solution drains into your mouth, spit it out. Try again, lowering your forehead in relation to your chin. Continue alternating nostrils.
  4. Alternately: if using the bulb syringe, you can tip your head back and squirt some of the solution into one nostril and let the water drain all the way back into your throat. When you taste the water in your mouth, spit it out into the sink. Then repeat the procedure in the other nostril.
  5. Exhale vigorously through your nose to clear excess mucus and water. If using a tissue, do NOT pinch the nostrils closed. Continue until both nostrils are clear.Make the solution fresh every day, or even fresh each time you use it, so that the solution is always warm. Continue the routine until all symptoms resolve. For chronic infections BE PATIENT and BE PERSISTENT as this may take 3-6 months to rid your body of the chronic bacteria that may be producing the low-grade infection.
Dr. Sarah Sjovold is a Naturopathic Doctor practising at Livstil Wellness Clinic. She regularly sees patients in the Langley and Surrey area looking for help with digestion, detoxing. and immune support.

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