I use one when I am feeling sinus congestion. I use either plain salt (not iodized, I use kosher salt) or salt and baking soda. I don't really have a preference. (Right now I am using the packets that came with my pot--they have both.) 8 oz. warm water to 1/8 teaspoon of salt [and 1/8 tsp. soda if you wish]
I am not sure what you mean by the feeling your brain is clogging up. Are you leaning over the sink, with your mouth higher than your nose, one ear up? The solution goes in the upper nostril. I usually pour through four ounces on one side, then turn my head and send the remaining four ounces through the other. Afterward, I blow my nose gently, repeatedly. DO NOT blow your nose hard, and do not block one nostril to try to clear the other; that is part of the problem in the first place.
If my nose is clogged on one side before I begin, I don't begin until I clear it somewhat. (If one nostril is completely blocked, the water won't get through, and it will just end up in your mouth, and that's an obnoxious feeling.)
There have been times when I repeated the process up to two more times, because I just kept getting more out when I would blow my nose after irrigating. The relief from pressure can be remarkable.
Keep trying, if you were feeling uncomfortable enough to try a neti pot in the first place, you should end up appreciating it.
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