Medical Question about saline solution

  1. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

    Regarding saline solution to irrigate the sinuses (e.g., to be used in a neti pot): is it really necessary to use salt that does not contain iodine? Recipes all over the internet say to use non-iodized table salt, and I don’t understand why.

    I prefer to make my own solutions; why waste money buying salt water? The salt in my diet has iodine in it, so the membranes in my digestive tract are exposed to it every day. Why do I need to protect my nasal membranes from it?

    I use it twice a week at most, if that’s pertinent.
  2. jcsd
  3. I'm not sure about the iodine but remember that anything we take orally gets a first pass metabolism through the liver while things that get absorbed through the nasal mucosa can make a bee line for your brain. Just some speculation, maybe just use sea salt instead of the iodized stuff to err on the side of caution.

    I remembered this thread because I got this in my email this morning;
  4. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    We have a thread on these amoebas. Somewhere.
  5. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Sea salt is full of impurities, I would use plain table salt.
  6. chemisttree

    chemisttree 3,717
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

  7. Moonbear

    Moonbear 11,955
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Iodine can be irritating/drying to skin and mucus membranes. There's a lot of question whether neti pots are helpful or harmful, but at the least, use sterile water to make your saline solution and avoid doing it too often...mucus is also one of the first lines of defense against infection, so it's not good to remove too much of it. You can buy non-iodized salt right next to the iodized salt. If for some reason your local store doesn't sell it, Kosher salt is non-iodized too (why it's commonly used for canning...non-iodized salt gives less discoloration during canning). If you use Kosher salt, measure by weight, not volume, since the larger grains will alter the volume needed. Normal saline is 9 grams salt in 1L water.
  8. bobze

    bobze 651
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You probably shouldn't be using a neti pot very often, when you do you should only really use it during acute sinus infections. Like Moonbear pointed out, it isn't at all clear that it is actually beneficial. Coupled with the fact that tap water can contain organisms that could be potentially dangerous or life threatening when introduced to the nasal mucosa. Because the nasal mucosa lies in such close proximity to the CNS it creates a potential situation where organisms that would normally be easily killed off by the innate immune properties of your GI system, that could be introduced somewhere in your body that cannot handle it.

    You should probably used bottled distilled water (don't drink it though) or medical saline. If you are going to use tap water, boiling it and using it plain (after its cooled down) would probably be best.
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