Health and Fitness

Published on June 26th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle


Neti Pot Safety for Ritual Nasal Cleansings

Neti pots are a popular and successful treatment for sinus pain. However, recent news about Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba, being transmitted in two cases through the use of Neti pots has users on edge. The amoeba was traced to the New Orléans water supply and in both cases and both people had used neti pots with tap water. While some may be scared away from this natural treatment, there is no need for fear. Following instructions for your neti pot allows you to enjoy the benefits without risking your health and safety. Those who perform ritual nasal cleanings can stay safe with the following information.

Here is how to safely use your neti pot to avoid or ease sinus pain and perform ritual nasal cleansings.

neti pot

One example of a neti pot

What is Naegleria Fowleri?

Naegleria fowleri, which also goes by N. Fowleri, is a one-celled amoeba found in warm bodies of water as well as soil. It’s actually quite common but often left undisturbed. It recently found its way to New Orleans drinking water.  In 2008, The CDC reported that 13 Muslims in Pakistan contracted Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis caused by N. fowleri. In these cases their religion was critical in causality as Muslims take part in ritual ablution, cleansing of the nostrils with water. The amoeba enters the nasal cavity and is drawn to brain where its presence leads to Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis which thus far has proven fatal in all cases. However, even when the amoeba is found in a water supply, steps can make the water viable for nasal rinsing and ritual cleansing.

Use Distilled Water to Safely Use Your Neti Pot

Distilled water is boiled water which is than condensed with its steam draining into a clean container. This removes impurities. It is quite common and readily available in most grocery stores. Distilled water is often preferred over tap water because of its absence of chemicals and is what’s required for humidifiers. Distilled water is also allowed for use in ritual cleansings like Wudu, a Muslim cleansing ritual.

Use Filtered Water for Your Neti Pot

Filtered water is purified through a process of screening using straining systems or with the addition of chemicals. Since the act of Wudu requires clean water, purified water is allowed. Again, filtered water is available at grocery stores or vending machines.

Boil Your Neti Pot Water

For those who do not want to spend money on bottled water, tap water is safe to use for nasal cleansing so long as it is boiled. Boiling water for five minutes removes the dangers of amoebas and other harmful microbes. By the time the water is brought to boiling point, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens are destroyed. For safety, the water should be allowed to rapid boil for an extra minute. Once boiled, cover the water and allow to cool, usually to body temperature for nasal rinsing.

How to Safely Use Your Neti Pot with Thorough Cleanings

N. fowleri. does not survive long without moisture so avoid contamination by allowing your cleaned neti pot to air dry. Use soap and warm water for cleaning and allow the pot to dry undisturbed away from water. Most neti pots are also dishwasher safe for more thorough sanitizing.

For more information on N. fowleri please visit the Center for Disease Control’s fact page.

{neti pot photo via Chiotsrun on Flickr}

Have you given up your neti pot because of these news stories? Are you willing to use them following these directions?

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About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a writer and life coach helping individuals, families, and businesses thrive. She supports small businesses especially in the areas of Green Living, Health, and Wellness. She can be found at and

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