Reduce Nasal Inflammation
Written By: Sue
February 28, 2011
Why Hypertonic Rinses Work
Most nasal rinsing devices teach you to make what is called an isotonic rinse (about a 1/2 teaspoon of mineral salt to 10 oz of water). This means there are equal amounts of salt in the saline solution as in the cell walls of the body, and it comes close to the body’s pH. This rinse helps to stimulate the cilia and flush out excess mucous and particulate matter. Most expert neti pot rinsers know that if it burns when they rinse, they haven’t used enough salt. Pure water or water with low amounts of salt can feel acidic and actually aggravate the sinus cavities.
To create a hypertonic rinse, you double the salt. This means there is more salt in the saline solution than in the cell walls of the body. Here’s the benefit. Doubling the amount of salt activates an exchange of fluids through a phenomenon called osmotic pressure. The body recognizes that there is more salt in the saline solution than in the cell walls of the body. It wants to equalize the pressure so it releases fluid from the inflamed tissues. It’s quite remarkable!
Doesn’t it burn, you may ask? Doubling the salt creates a saline solution that is more alkaline than acidic. In other words, it shouldn’t burn. A hypertonic rinse will also help to liquefy mucous and decrease the pressure you feel associated with inflammation. While relief can be apparent right after rinsing for some individuals, it may take a few rounds for others. You can rinse up to 3 times a day with a hypertonic solution if you are fighting a cold.
Bottom line: If you sound nasally when you speak, and you are fighting a cold or have allergies, you could probably use a hypertonic rinse!
If you want the exact science behind this, Wikipedia does a fine job of explaining it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmotic_pressure)