If you use a neti pot for nasal irrigation, do NOT fill it with regular tap water. Two Louisiana residents died after being infected with “brain-eating” amoeba from contaminated tap water in their neti pot.
Brain-eating amoeba or Naegleria fowleri thrive in warm freshwater sources, such as hot springs, lakes, poorly maintained swimming pools, and rivers, typically in Southern states.
“There’s a lot left to be discovered about Naegleria fowleri, including why only a few people become infected from swimming in warm freshwater that millions of people use recreationally each year,” says natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 32 Naegleria fowleri infections in the United States from 2001 to 2010. Thirty people were infected from contaminated recreational water and two from a geothermal drinking water supply.
How Does “Brain-Eating” Amoeba Destroy Your Health?
Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, usually occurring when people swim, inhale, or splash contaminated water into their nose. The amoeba goes to your brain, causing primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a condition that destroys brain tissue.
Initial symptoms of Naegleria fowleri contamination appear within two weeks of exposure. These include headache, nausea, fever, vomiting, and stiff neck. When the infection worsens, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations may occur. Because the parasite creates a shielding “cyst” that protects it from your immune system, infection from this type of bacteria is often fatal. Death usually occurs within one to 12 days.
Your Tap Water Is Putting You at Risk
Brain-eating amoeba and other parasites are not the only dangerous contaminants lurking in your tap water. There are over 140 chemicals in U.S. drinking water supplies that are not regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (link) These include prescription drugs, gasoline, pesticides, and rocket fuel.
In addition, over 20 percent of U.S. water treatment systems have violated key provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last six years. However, less than six percent of the violations were fined or punished.
What’s worse is that substances that may jeopardize your health are also intentionally added to water supplies – including fluoride, a highly toxic poison.
Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) also lurk in many municipal water systems. DBPs form when disinfectants like chlorine react and combine with man-made chemical contaminants, naturally occurring organic matter, bromide, and iodide during the production of drinking water. DBPs are responsible for the many toxic effects associated with chlorinated water, and not chlorine itself.
“You simply cannot trust municipal sources or government agencies to keep your water clean,” Dr. Mercola warns.
Dr. Mercola recommends testing your tap water with a comprehensive test kit from the National Testing Laboratories to ensure that it is safe and free from harmful contaminants. He also advises installing a whole house water filtration system to protect not only your health, but your appliances as well. Look for a whole house water filter with three separate stages of contamination removal:
- Stage one: Removes sediment
- Stage two: Removes chlorine and heavy metals
- Stage three: A heavy-duty (granular) carbon filter that can remove hormones, drug residues, chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides
“Find a system that uses at least 60 pounds of filter media and can produce eight or more gallons a minute. When you are running two different showers, the dishwasher and the kitchen sink at the same time, you’ll find out why these minimum levels are so important,” Dr. Mercola says.
This recommendation is for a home or apartment with about three and a half bathrooms. If your house is bigger than this, you will probably need two whole house water filtration systems.
How to Use a Neti Pot Safely
This news may discourage many people from using a neti pot for nasal irrigation, but the fact is that the contaminated water is the threat, not the neti pot. A neti pot eliminates the recurrent irritant using a natural saline solution, allowing your body to heal itself. It is part of the Ayurvedic medical tradition that’s been used since the ancient times.
“Because tap water can be home to any number of contaminants, it is extremely important to use only sterile, distilled, or boiled water (that is allowed to cool) for nasal irrigation,” warns Dr. Joseph Mercola.
To use a neti pot, you need:
- All-natural Himalayan salt or sea salt (do not use processed salt)
- Sterilized water
- Neti pot or bulb syringe
- Towel or washcloth
- Find a workable container. The neti pot has a spout that fits comfortably in one nostril. If you do not have one, you can use a bulb syringe, a small flower watering pot, a turkey baster, or a teacup (though this may be messier).
- Fill your container with lukewarm sterile salt water. The salt-to-water ratio must be one teaspoon sea salt to two cups of water.
- Over a sink, tilt your head forward so you are directly looking down toward the sink. Put the spout into your right nostril. Make sure you breathe through your mouth. Turn your head to the right and allow the water move into the right nostril and exit to the left nostril. You will feel the water passing through your sinuses. If some of the water drains into your mouth, simply spit it out and adjust the tilt of your head.
- Repeat the above procedure for the other nostril. You must use a cup of water for each nostril.
- To finish, expel any remaining water by quickly blowing air out both open nostrils 15 times over the sink. Do not block off one nostril because this may force water into your Eustachian tube.
- After this procedure, rinse the neti pot thoroughly with sterile water and allow it to air dry completely.
Do nasal irrigation up to four times a day until your symptoms improve. This may take three to six months if you’re facing a chronic sinus infection.