Saturday, January 14, 2006

Keeping the pipes clean

Kate writes,

Can you address this bit from wikipedia in your boogers blog? Maybe something about how entirely gross and bizarre it and the human body are? "The word frenulum can also refer to the muscular connection that can be felt on the underside of the tongue. The pratice of cutting this is called Kechari Mudra and is a yogic pratice endured mostly in India to allow turning of the tongue itself up into the nasal cavity for spiritual practices."

Kate is referring to this page on Wikipedia, which tells me she has nothing better to do but look up naughty words on the internet. Nevertheless, her question provides a good opportunity to talk about yogic practices of self-cleansing -- the six shatkarmas -- and how at least one of them relates to standard treatment we employ in ENT.

Initially, I thought Kechari Mudra had to be one of the neti shatkarmas. (Doesn't that make it all clear?) In neti shatkarma, the individual douches the nasal cavities with a liquid (milk, clarified butter, or saline) or passes a long soft thread through the nose, draws it out from the mouth, and flosses gently.

My dear, that is not how you blow a Shofar.

This delightful young lady is demonstrating proper use of a neti pot. You don't need a neti pot to irrigate your nose, however, and I can make a good argument against using a neti pot. You can clean it all you like, but you can't see inside of it. I would worry about mold growth in the stem. Here in the States, you can buy a kit which includes a squeeze bottle that can be broken down, washed, and examined in its entirety. If it starts looking grungy, get another kit.

Here's a link to the product I use. No, I don't get anything for this endorsement.

I've never recommended nasal irrigation using milk or butter, but I have advised many patients to irrigate their nose with saline (salt water, buffered with bicarbonate). It can be helpful for a variety of inflammatory nasal and sinus conditions.

This is not for everyone, so make sure you discuss it with your doctor first. In particular, irrigation is a bad idea if you think you might have a sinus infection -- the infection may spread to other sinuses.

Getting back to Kate's question:

It just so happens Kechari Mudra is not a shatkarma. (It's part of kriya yoga.) I suspect Kate envisions the yogi sticking his tongue into his nostril Gene Simmons-fashion, but the reverse is true. In Kechari Mudra, the tongue is moved posteriorly and superiorly, so that the tongue tip ends up in the nasopharynx. Here's a picture, and a description.

This is done not as a self-cleansing practice, but to enhance the flow of psychic energy from the head downward. Got it?

As for the other five shatkarmas, some involve "inhaling" air through the anus, then forcefully expelling it (sthal basti), or using the abdominal muscles to suction up water through the anus, an auto-enema (jala basti). Other shatkarmas cleanse the eyes, the stomach, and the brain.

For my patients, I'll stick to nasal irrigation, thank you very much. But they're your pipes, and this is a free country.



At 5:42 PM, Blogger Kate R said...

no, I got point--you get to pick your nose on the inside of your head.

No more nasal slugs on the wall would be nice (my boys are finally outgrowing that repulsive habit. Did you know that getting dried boogers off the wall often means taking some paint along with it? Tenacious stuff.)

Wouldn't it spread lots of nasty germs into your sinuses? I mean I always hear about how a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's. Wouldn't the tongue up in that territory be bad news?

At 5:47 PM, Blogger Kate R said...

and I would LIKE to point out that I ran across that bit whilst doing research to help my friend Sally MacKenzie. Go on, ask her. She said she needed a little help understanding something. . .oh never mind.

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

We have some immunity to our own microflora. That's why you can bite your cheek and not get necrotizing fasciitis, for example. Also, there are secreted antibodies (IgA) in saliva. That may explain the whole licking-the-wounds thing.

Off to go see Sally . . .

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Kate R said...

My husband is deeply ashamed that I would ask such a question about the germy mouth. A bazillion years living with a microbiologist and I ask a question like THAT?

Okay, how about this question: how come my last couple of colds seem to start with a toothache? One side of my face hurts. IN fact it feels like it's a couple of specific teeth (I've even made dentist appointments) but a few days later I'm sneezing and snorting up a storm. The tooth pain and cold sensitivity goes away.
If you don't know the answer, how about this one:
How much should I tip the guys who are installing the new washing machine?

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Easy, Kate: maxillary sinusitis can cause pain in the upper dentition.

As for the tip, um, I never knew you were supposed to tip these guys!

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Kate R said...

But these are teeth in the lower jaw . . .

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Okay, that's weird.

I have no explanation.

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i had sinus reconstion in 2001. should i need to go back though it again

At 5:03 AM, Anonymous Kriya Yoga said...

Kriya Yoga an ancient yoga technique was reintroduced by sri yogananda paramahansa. Kriya yoga lessons are available from self realisation fellowship which was founded by sri yogananda paramahansa.


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