Hunting Headaches – Shampoo Up My Nose

It is time for a status report on my Hunting Headaches project. For the new readers, almost a year ago I started a quantified self project to track down the cause of my late night headaches. Many ideas have been tried and so far the headaches continue.

A few months ago I got an idea that my sinus headaches may have roots in some form of chronic infection. This troubled me, because I can run all sorts of self experiments, but if it was based upon some infection then I’d need to see a doctor. And you know how I distrust doctors.

The infection idea seemed weak, but at this point I’m running out of ideas. Then I heard a health podcast that gave me a bizarre yet effective idea for eliminating chronic sinus infections. You add a small amount of baby shampoo to your Neti pot. Yes, baby shampoo!

So I tried this Neti nose cocktail three nights in a row. My recipe was 8 ounces of warm filtered water, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of J & J baby shampoo. As crazy as it seems the first time you use a Neti Pot, it is doubly weird to knowingly put shampoo up your nose. But I did it. It actually had a pleasant feel to it.

Did the shampoo up the nose trick work? No. In the week following this experiment, I had zero decrease in sinus headaches. I’m glad I bought the travel size portion and not a full bottle. I could see using this trick again if I exhibited sinus symptoms other than headaches. Oh well, the hunt continues. I do have an interesting development in Hunting Headaches that I’ll save for my next post.

UPDATE: I no longer use baking soda in the mix. Stings too much.


Add yours

  1. I am so glad you tried this! I was intrigued by a lot of the information in Chris’ podcast and I even have J&J shampoo at home right now. I just hadn’t gotten up the nerve to try it.

    I may keep it on the back burner for the next time my sinus symptoms really flare up, but I’ll assume it won’t knock out the headaches alone.


  2. well at least your nose hairs are clean.

  3. I’m wondering if the GAPS diet might not be of any help. I haven’t done it myself, only reading up about it and considering it for some minor health issues I’d like cleared up.
    What do you think?

  4. @Ali – You inspired me. After your comment, I went to your site and saw one of your recipes. I went to the grocery store and plan on making it tonight.

    @chuck -…and no tears. 🙂

    @Kimelah – I have been testing components of the GAPS one at a time, but not simultaneously. I think I would starve to death on full GAPS. Plus my digestive and skin health are excellent and I have no food allergies so I’m less inclined to believe GAPS is the answer for me.

  5. MAS,

    Leave fermented foods for a week, also dairy.

    Your ferments are a rich source of fungal and bacterial toxins and LPS. Switch to high quality probiotics for a while. Vitamin A is essential for mucosal immunity (brutally overlooked).

    You should also do a test for intestinal SIgA levels, pathogens, small intestine inflammation, etc.

    Good luck.

  6. @Enrique – Interesting idea. I’ve tested both independently, but at the same time. As soon as I finish the perishable dairy in my frig, I’ll start that test. Since I consume beef liver once a week, I should be OK on Vitamin A.


  7. Hi Michael: Just stopping by to say hi because your post sidetracked me on my way through Google+ to take care of some business 🙂 Just as your style of writing drew me in at INC, it drew me here. I also have recurring sinus/allergy issues, but rare headaches. I was prepared to read that you had been miraculously cured and eternally greatful to J&J. I felt so deflated and could feel your pain when your answer to your own question was a flat “No.” I am surprised that no one has submitted a coffee concoction to INC to cure sinus headaches…

  8. @Sandi – If you are comfortable with using a Neti Pot, then I would absolutely give the baby shampoo a chance. It ha worked for many people. Just not for me.

  9. I’m glad you were inspired, and I hope you enjoyed the spaghetti squash recipe! It has become one of my favorite “comfort foods.”

  10. Have you tried Xlear? Or any Xylitol products?

  11. @JamesK – No I haven’t. If I got zero benefit from baby shampoo, I’m wondering how likely Xlear would help.

  12. Ok Michael, I may try that one day, but haven’t used a Neti pot yet. Saw a woman use one on Dr. Oz, I think, or another TV program. She said it actually felt great. I don’t remember what solution was used, but it was unusual. How often do you use a Neti pot, and what is your favorite solution?

  13. @Sandi – I vary my schedule. I use 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt + 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda + 8 oz of warm filter water.

  14. Xlear = Xylitol, which has a fair amount of support in the medical community. From Wikipedia: “In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, saline solutions of xylitol significantly reduced the number of nasal coagulase-negative Staphylococcus bacteria. ….In a small clinical trial nasally administered xylitol reduced ear complaints in children previously having chronic complaints…by more than 92%. The author also reported beneficial effects on asthma with nasal administration.[31]” May help – I just orderd some from Amazon. I will post what I learn.

  15. @JamesK – Thanks for the research. I’m adding it to my list of ideas. Becky on a different post recommended Alkalol. Looks like my Neti will be getting a workout.

  16. Hi Michael, I was reading on thehealthyhomeeconomist blog about how she suggested emptying a probiotic into the neti pot for sinus problems.

    I’ve never tried it, but since you’re exploring solutions, it’s worth a shot. Good luck!

  17. @Emily – I tried that trick already. Did nothing. Thanks for thinking of me.

  18. Found this looking for baby shampoo in neti pots after doing it for a few weeks on a new doctor’s recommendation. I had a recurring sinus infection that would go away for a bit with antibiotics, then come back within days. He decided it was likely such a mass of goop in there that the antibiotics were only reaching the lower sections.

    So I started with the shampoo…and suffered about 2 weeks of various goop coming out as the shampoo broke it down. A couple weeks later, no more goop, and things are flowing much more smoothly for me. So it may not be a cure for all instances, but it definitely helped me out in that situation!

  19. @cj – yeah, I too have become a fan of the baby shampoo. It is the most effective Neti pot method I’ve used so far. It works and it is soothing.

  20. I myself suffer from similar headaches, I have learned to control them by diet ie;eliminating dairy. Most important is green superfood smoothies like the ones made by naked or boathouse farm. Im not sure if its the magnesium or all the antioxidants helping my buffer system raise my ph but they are very effective. I believe it is a result of an overreactive sympathatic nervous system (Fight or flight) and cortisol plays a part so I also supplement fish oil and vitamin D. Their are additional trial and errors I have,am, and will be trying if you need any help email me. But Id recommend experimanting with your diet. The neti pot should at the very least help with the inflamation.

  21. @t – I think the shampoo trick is good for those with chronic infections. Turns out I didn’t have one, so I stopped doing this. For me it seems caffeine is most likely headache trigger.

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