Nutty for Neti Pot

Gary Korb

A natural “solution” for cigar smokers with sinus problems

I’ve suffered with sinus troubles most of my life. Clogged sinuses, sinus headaches, you-name-it. Whatever problems are commonly associated with the nose, chances are I’ve had them. Moreover, as someone who smokes cigars for a living, I occasionally find my sinuses stuffed-up. I also believe it’s related to how many cigars I’ve smoked in a day. In the past, I would usually take a decongestant, but a couple of years ago I discovered the neti pot. In fact, I learned about the neti pot on a cigar forum.

So what’s a neti pot?

Neti PotA neti pot is a vessel designed to rinse the nasal cavity for treating nasal allergies, sinus problems and colds. It works pretty simply, too. Neti pot kits include the neti pot (which looks like a little Aladdin’s lamp),
saline solution packets (a powdered combination of sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride),
and a little spoon for stirring the saline solution. After mixing the contents of the packet with warm, purified water, tilt your head to one side (toward your shoulder) as far as you can, gently insert the tip of the neti pot in one of your nostrils, and pour the solution in. Because there’s nothing much but a hole up there, the water will flow out the opposite nostril. If one side is more clogged than the other, you’ll notice it takes a little longer for the solution to work its way through the membrane. After each side, blow your nose into a tissue. You won’t believe what comes out of there. All I can add is, it’s pretty ugly.

As far as the neti pot’s use relative to smoking cigars, I use it once a week as a prophylaxis, and the results have been excellent. My nose stays “clean” and I almost never get colds. Flushing your sinuses via neti pot may also help your ability to pick-up the more subtle flavors and aromas from your cigars.

Some recent reports have alleged using a neti pot can be deadly. Actually, it has been traced to two deaths of two women last year in Louisiana. It wasn’t the neti pot itself that killed them; rather, it was contaminated tap water they used in their neti pots. Contaminated water contains amoeba that can work their way into the brain causing an infection, and only in the rarest of cases, death.

Experts suggest you boil your neti pot water before using and let it cool down until it’s somewhere between tepid and warm. Never use hot water, as it will only irritate your sinus membranes and cause you even more discomfort. (Take it from me.) I prefer to use steam distilled water, then microwave it for a few seconds to warm it up.

The next time you feel your sinuses clogging-up, reach for your neti pot. It’s also good for your psyche knowing that before you light-up that next cigar your sinuses have been properly cleansed.

Finally, please check with your physician or pharmacist on the correct use of the neti pot, and whether or not you should even be using it.


Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.


  1. Ray Bernadisius says:

    I use an electric neti pot: Waterpik® SinuSense™ It works great! You are right that even with just a weekly use you get less colds, have less congestion and does help your sense of smell. The SinuSense is easy to use. I use distilled water, mix it with the solution pack and warm it in the microwave. Them shoot half up one nostril and the other gets the other half. Works like a charm!

  2. John Cochrane says:

    I used to get sinus infections every winter until my wife got me a neti pot. It’s cold and dry to begin with and sadly, cigars don’t help. The neti keeps the nasal membrane moist and wahes out the junk that causes infections. The only problem is that right after a neti, cigar smoke tastes funky. Kind of like drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth. Best to wait a bit and eat something savory before lighting up.

  3. John says:

    I have to say that a neti pot is awesome. Not only is it great in irrigating and keeping your nasal membranes hydrated and cleansed, it also helps ward off common cold infections. If, during the day, you come in contact with someone sporting the sniffles, it is always a great idea to use the pot to “cleanse” your membranes. I have to admit though, the first time feels like you are drowning or something similar…odd and highly beneficial!

  4. John Cochrane says:

    Are you referring to the Jan 12, 2011 blog on cigars and winter colds? I posted under Johnny Cigar but someone else mentioned the neti first.

  5. Pierre Verdon says:

    After several sinus surgeries at the local hospital, I saw a renowned sinus specialist in Montreal. He says to all of is patients, that rinsing their noses, is like brushing their teeth. It should be done every day, even 2 times a day. For myself I do it several times a week with the saline solution and the plastic bottle from Neil Med sinus rinse. I can tell you that yes; it helps to prevent cold, sinus pain and to feel so good after. It is also true regarding the taste of cigar smoking; I smoke at lease one cigar a day, sometime two on weekends’ days.

  6. Michael says:

    I have been smoking cigars for 1 1/2 years. About 6 months after I started smoking, I discovered the “retro-hale”; exhaling the cigar smoke through your sinuses. I LOVED it! It added a whole new dimension to the cigar smoking experience. But, it wasn’t long after I started retro-haling that I started getting regular sinus congestion, headaches, sinus drainage, and infections. I started using a neti pot in an attempt to correct those issues, but, even though the sinus washing felt good, it didn’t correct the problems. I eventually stopped using the neti pot, for lack of results, but have since been taking a daily 24 hour oral antihistamine. This has worked pretty well, allowing me to enjoy the retro-hale experience with a minimum of ill effects. I don’t particularly like the idea of taking antihistamines prophylacticly, but I enjoy the retro-hale so much, I don’t want to give it up.

  7. Dave says:

    If you use a product called Alkolol in the pot you will be surprised how well it works. Back in the 70′s ENT’s would recommend putting alkolol in a water pic and flushing the sinus out when the person had plastic stints placed in the nose after surgery to help with cleaning and infections. I recommend mixing it with just a bit of water, pulling it up in a syringe and warming it a bit by holding it under warm running water in the sink. Then you snort it up your nose be careful not to swallow any if it goes to the back of your throat. It will clean your sinuses like nothing you have ever tried. It will leave a camphor smell for a bit but not bad. Will get rid of a headache from congestion so fast it will make your head spin. Oh…whatever you do don’t swallow this stuff. It will get your stomach.