About Flu Wiki
How To Navigate
New? Start Here!
Search FW Forum
Forum Rules
Simple HTML I
Simple HTML II
Forum Shorthand
Recent Active Diaries
RSS Feed


Advanced Search

Flu Wiki Forum
Welcome to the conversation Forum of Flu Wiki

This is an international website intended to remain accessible to as many people as possible. The opinions expressed here are those of the individual posters who remain solely responsible for the content of their messages.
The use of good judgement during the discussion of controversial issues would be greatly appreciated.

H1N1(Swine Flu): Old Family Health Advice for Staying Healthy - Things To Help You Avoid The Flu

by: ReginaPhelps

Mon Nov 09, 2009 at 03:16:19 AM EST


A friend of mine sent me an email asking me if gargling with saltwater could be helpful for overall health and flu prevention.  From my nursing background I remembered of course that is was often recommended for sore throats and "colds" and is very effective...so that sent me on a search...could salt water could be effective as a gargle or a nasal wash to prevent or treat colds or the flu???

ReginaPhelps :: H1N1(Swine Flu): Old Family Health Advice for Staying Healthy - Things To Help You Avoid The Flu
Tags: , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

I believe the reason that saltwater
can be effective is that the salt disrupts the outer membrane of bacteria, killing or inhibiting them, while the salt is isotonic to the mucus membranes. 1/8 tsp salt to 1 cup water is the isotonic ratio for nasal washes and gargling.

Be very careful not to add more salt than this, because too much salt is actually poisonous, especially to small children. Just a tich is all.

Herbalists will make a herbal tea such as licorice root or goldenseal, let it cool, add the 1/8 tsp salt to one cup of tea and strain; then use it for gargling or neti pot/nasal wash.  

how can that be?
If the concentration of the salt in the solution you're gargling with is the same as the concentration in the body's own cells and fluids (not all identical, but close enough for this purpose I guess), which I guess is what you mean by "isotonic to the mucus membranes", then how can it disrupt the cell walls of bacteria any more than the body's own fluids were already doing? In fact, do bacterial cells even have a different concentration of salt in them than human body cells? If not, then why would the salt solution have a different effect on bacterial cells than on human cells? You may be right, but I don't understand how this is supposed to work.

[ Parent ]
salt water gargle
I seem to remember hearing from an "oldtimer" of a saltwater/cider vinegar gargle being useful. It's been years, but I believe I tried it at the time and it did help.

my grandmother said
put 10 rocks in your pocket and take chicken soup every day (chicken soup is, of course a balanced electrolyte solution.)

Here's the key: each day, remove a rock. When the rocks are gone, you're better.

Salt Water Gargle & Neti Pots
Hi All,

Thanks to ReginaPhelps for calling attention to the use of nasal irrigation and gargling with saline solution as possible measures to prevent respiratory illness.  I use both techniques.   I respectfully offer info  below as my personal experience. I am not recommending it to anyone else, or making any claims other than that this regimen has helped me. I cannot and do not speak to the issue of potential toxicity ReginaPhelps brings up - I have never heard this concern associated with gargling or neti pot use, but that in no way means it isn't valid.  Both activities involve rinsing with, not drinking, the saline - it seems like swimming in the ocean to me, though I don't know for sure what the comparative degrees of salinity might be.  In any case, I've been doing this for years and have made it this far without any health problems to speak of.

So, here is some personal experience, followed by info that circulated here in Maine a while ago.  

I use my neti pot whenever I have the slightest first signs of any respiratory problem beginning to develop, whether allergic or viral.  I follow the directions that came with my neti pot (I have one at home and one at work - two different brands - but similar directions.)  These directions, as well as the directions on yet a third brand of salt, specifically for this use, call for 1/2 tsp of coarse-ground salt (or 1/4 tsp fine-ground salt) per cup of warm water. [Water too cold may increase congestion; water too warm may irritate the lining of the nasal passages.  Water that smells or contains chemicals may be irritating, too.  Bottled water warmed to luke warm temp. is a benign possibility.]

The proportion of salt to water that I use is rather higher than what ReginaPhelps suggests above, but lower than the suggested amount in instructions that came with my neti pots and with my new nasal salt.

In my experience, the suggested recipes are a bit too salty for me, and burned a little when I reached the bottom of the cup where the solution was a bit saltier. (Too strong a solution could dry the tissues out and potentially cause a nosebleed.)  So, I use a scant 1/4 tsp of salt.  When I first started using the neti pot, I used only sea salt.   Grocery store salt,  if it's loose in the container, likely has anti-caking chemicals in it, as well as iodine in some cases - additives that might irritate tissues. Instructions that came with my new, "special" neti-pot salt suggests that even sea salt may contain pollens or algae that could cause an allergic reaction.  The "special" salt I am now using purports to be 99.99% pure sodium chloride - just plain salt with no additives of any kind - and is very mild. (Source - health food store.)

Personally, I prefer to use the gravity feed neti pot, rather than any system that irrigates the nasal passages with saline via pressure.  It is my feeling that a pressurized introduction of saline into the sinuses could "blast" infected mucus into areas that are not infected, and thus actually spread an infection.  

I use my neti pot at work as soon as I can after I have treated someone who is sick.  I use it again at night and in the morning if I feel I have been exposed, or am actually starting to come down with something, say, after walking the dog on a cold night.  I also gargle with warm salt water at night, just like my grandma told me to. She lived to be eighty-five.

I don't have the world's greatest immune system since a teenage bout with mono.  Even so, and despite treating a great many people in my acupuncture practice who have been sick with colds and flu this season and coughing in my face despite all the posters on the walls, I have so far managed to avoid being sick. (Knock on wood.)

I feel this protocol is largely responsible for my so-far good health.  It is cheap, simple and accessible.  I may supplement it with immune-boosting, antihistamine herbal formulae, as the situation requires.  It works for me.

The following gives some strategies for staying well and supporting rationales for nasal irrigation with saline.  [I do not know Dr. Goyal, and I don't know who started sending the information around via email.  But, it works for me, and I absolutely love being advised to drink coffee!.]

Good health to all,


Swine Flu - Good Advice

Dr. Vinay Goyal is an
MBBS,DRM,DNB (Intensivist and Thyroid specialist) having clinical
experience of over 20 years. He has worked in institutions like
Hinduja Hospital , Bombay Hospital , Saifee Hospital , Tata
Memorial etc. Presently, he is heading our Nuclear Medicine
Department and Thyroid clinic at Riddhivinayak Cardiac and
Critical Centre, Malad (W).

The following message given by him, I feel makes a lot of sense and is
important for all to know:

The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic
of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid coming into
contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1
is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and
development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not
fully highlighted in most official communications, can be
practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any
part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).

3. *Gargle twice a day with warm salt  water (use Listerine if you
don't trust salt). *H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the
throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms.
Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water
has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an
infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and
powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day
with warm salt water . *Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti
or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities),
but *blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils
with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in
ringing down viral population.*
Neti pots and sinus rinse kits are available at the drug store and
relatively inexpensive....under $15.

5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C
(Amla and other citrus fruits). *If you have to supplement with
Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. *Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can.
*Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse
direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the
stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm."

Careful with the Netti Pot
Neti Pot Once a Day Can Cause Infections

MIAMI -- Contrary to popular belief, irrigating the nose every day with the help of a Neti pot may actually make patients more susceptible to sinus infections, researchers said here.


[ Parent ]
That would chime with my (personal - unproven) belief
that lavage would wipe the nasal mucosa of enteric flora, leaving a nice area of warm, moist flesh bare for pathogens to colonise.

Hygiene is a fine line between eliminating the baddies and supporting the goodies. This is why I'm reluctant to use antibacterials.

[ Parent ]
Thank you all for such good information..
I tell my kids to make the gargle/rinse water taste like tears, no more salt than that.  I hope it equals to the proper amount, and has worked for me.

Salt water gargle is symptomatic
relief, according to my mother long ago, and my dentist much more recently.

It's not designed to cure anything, but to relieve some of the soreness of the throat from a virus, and irritation in the mouth from dental work.

[ Parent ]
Two Theories About Salt Water Gargling
How Does Gargling Salt Water Help a Sore Throat?

Osmosis and Bacteria
Osmosis and Edema


[ Parent ]
Nasal irrigation discussion
In a case of exceedingly timely news, a physician at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco is advising against sinus rinses. With flu on everyone's mind, overuse of the rinses - whether salty or not - could disrupt the body's immunology at a critical flu-entry spot: the nose.

"There's a blanket of little, hair-like projections called cilia in the nose, and those cilia can be stunned if they're chronically bathed in hypertonic, which is excess salt, or hypo, which is too-little salt, rinses," said Michael J. Bergstein, senior attending physician at Northern Westchester Hospital. "Do not use nasal saline irrigation as a maintenance because you'll be altering the natural immune benefit that the sinuses have."

His opinion is not universal, however. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in reporting on the give-and-take regarding sinus rinses, cites another physician who "could not disagree more."

In refuting the limited-rinse conclusion, Dr. Jordan S. Josephson, a sinus specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan said it's possible for irrigation to wash away protective cells along with the infection, but the protective "mucous blanket" of the sinus packages re-forms and goes back to work, he said.

But the data are worth noting. The rate of sinus infections decreased 62 percent once irrigation was stopped, according to the study Bergstein cited and as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"People who were using nasal sinus irrigation were having an average of eight sinus infections a year," according to the study's author, Dr. Talal Nsouli. "They dropped to three per year." Nsouli is a clinical professor of pediatrics and allergy-immunology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and director of Watergate & Burke Allergy & Asthma Centers, in Washington D.C.

Rinsing sinuses with a saline solution might have soothing short-term benefits, but it could make the user more prone to infections by purging the nose of immunological bodies.

"By washing the nose, we are removing the bad mucus but, unfortunately, we are also removing the good mucus that contains the antimicrobial agents as well," said Nsouli. "And, by depleting the nose of its immune elements, we expose the patient to more sinus infections."

Nsouli's advice is to avoid using nasal saline irrigation on a long-term basis, limiting its use only to when an infection is present. Legions of people, according to the researchers, use nasal saline irrigation to treat sinus infections, despite lack of robust evidence to support its use.


that is timely!

[ Parent ]
I concur n/t

All 'safety concerns' are hypothetical.  If not, they'd be called side effects...

[ Parent ]

Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?

Active Users
Currently 0 user(s) logged on.

  pogge (In Memorium)
  Bronco Bill
  SusanC (emeritus)
  Melanie (In Memoriam)

  Flu Wiki (active wiki resource)
  How To Add To Flu Wiki
  Get Pandemic Ready (How To Start Prepping)
  Citizen's Guide v 2.0
  Effect Measure
  Dude's FTP

Powered by: SoapBlox