It's been several years since I first saw a neti pot being used when it was featured on Oprah, but I didn't start using one myself until about a year or two ago when my nurse practitioner suggested I give it a try. I am now convinced that the use of a neti pot is one of the simplest, most effective methods for maintaining upper respiratory health. I have seasonal allergies and the resulting inflammation caused me to get sinus infection after sinus infection (that would lead to ear infection after ear infection). After my nurse practitioner recommended a neti pot, I started using it twice a day until I got things under control. Now, even though I think I'd do well to use it every day, I only use it when I'm feeling congested, sick, or if I've spent the day caring for patients with infectious diseases. I rarely get sinus infections (haven't had one all winter!) and I don't get nearly as many ear infections. When I first started using it I didn't even realize how stuffy I always was because I was so used to feeling that way!
A lot of people use herbal preparations in their neti pots, but I prefer to stick to saline. Add 1/4 tsp. non-iodized salt and fill the neti pot with room temperature water. Repeat for each side.
It took me several tries of using a neti pot to tilt my head and breath just right so that the water didn't run down my throat, so don't give up if it's unpleasant at first! Also, watch to make sure that you don't add water that's too hot or cold or you'll get shooting pains similar to a "brain freeze" when you use it (not to mention risk for inflammation or injury to the delicate tissues in your nasal passages if you use really hot water). On a side note - spend the extra $4 to get a ceramic neti pot. They're worth it. The overpriced, cheaply made plastic ones I've seen are a horrible embarrassment to neti pots everywhere.