Friday, April 27, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Saline Nasal Spray

Yes, it is still allergy season here, hard and heavy. Actually, they say that it is one of the absolute worst we have ever experienced. I have to firmly agree! Grocery stores are selling loads of fresh ginger and honey. And over-the-counter sinus medications are flying off the shelves. But the one item I hear everyone talking the most about getting to help relieve their noses and sinuses is the Saline Nasal Spray.

It's just salt water, right? That's what everyone, including doctors, says it is. That is what 'they' want you to believe. I may be mostly salt water, but there is so much more in that little squeeze bottle of salt and water. One ingredient is even listed as "not for human consumption." Now just how much more 'consumption' can you get than squirting something up your nose into your mucus membranes?!

A little over a month ago, in desperation to get relief for my sinuses and nose, I, too, purchased a bottle of this inexpensive, salty liquid, completely unaware that there was more to it than just salt and sterilized water. Not long after I used it, I had a bad reaction. I thought that was odd so I decided to look more closely at the ingredient list (I am a hopeless label reader).  Here is what I found it contained....

Benzalkonium Chloride
Disodium Phosphate
Monosodium Phosphate

Benzalkonium Chloride - What is it and what does it do? It kills germs and is one of the effective ingredients in ...... Lysol! Let me tell you, I would NOT want to squirt Lysol up my nose! This ingredient is very dangerous. According to a Hazardous Data Sheet, Benzalkonium Chloride is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Even worse, they strongly warn not to ever let this stuff into the environment. And we are suppose to put it into our bodies?!
Wikipedia states that Benzalkonium chloride can cause death if taken internally. Now, when I was still in school, I learned in my science classes that one of the fastest ways to get a medication into our bodies is through our mucus membranes, primarily our nose!  Wikipedia also states that a solution of 10% or more is toxic to humans, yet it is the FIRST ingredient listed on the label! It can cause swelling in the nose, which appears it could actually worsen the problem that it was being used for. And the latest scientific evidence shows that it may even cause birth defects! Just the first ingredient alone is enough to make me toss this dangerous liquid out. But wait.... I can't. It should NEVER be entered into the environment. Oh, and be careful, it may be in your eye drops, too.

Disodium Phosphate -  this is formed by mixing together sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acid. It is used in the industrial industry as a corrosion inhibitor (remember, the first ingredient is corrosive). It is used as a pesticide. It is also used as an emulsifier and a preservative. See more here. It can cause irritation of the respiratory system. Now, in a nasal spray, that doesn't make sense!!!  In one breath they say it is safe in small amounts... then in the other they say that, in its pure form, it can be toxic. It is listed on my bottle as only the second ingredient, so there is a lot of it in there. This stuff is scary, and I never realized how many things it is used in! I am going to have to look closer at the ingredients in one of my blood pressure meds, since it is also used in medications designed for excess fluid elimination. Here is the data sheet

Phenylcarbinol - aka Benzyl Alcohol - It is used to kill bacteria and is a local anesthetic. It is oxidized rapidly in healthy people, but it isn't healthy people that are reaching for the Saline Nasal Sprays. The safety of this chemical is questionable, although it doesn't appear to be as harmful as the first two mentioned.  Here is more information from Wikipedia. Personally, I prefer NOT to squirt anything up my nose that is used as a paint, lacquer, epoxy solvent!

Monosodium Phosphate - It is an acid salt found in dental products used for its enamel restoring qualities...  huh, so why is it in my nasal spray? It is also known as a laxative. It can be hard on the kidneys. In combination with other sodium phosphates, it is used as a pH buffer, which would be my guess as to why it is in nasal spray. Still, it certainly doesn't sound very safe. It can also be irritating to the respiratory tract, which, in a nasal spray, doesn't make sense!! Here is some more information about it at Livestrong.

and, for the FINAL ingredient in my little $1 bottle of Saline Nasal Spray . . . . .

Water - No where on that bottle does it say that water has been sterilized, nor even purified or distilled. It just says 'water'. It could be directly out of the tap, which is NOT something you want to put up your nose!

So, there you have it! That is what all is in your little bottle of Saline Nasal Spray. I don't know about you, but I'm not sticking that stuff up my nose again! Visit here for a little more interesting reading on the subject.

So, what to do.... make your own! Here is the simple recipe given to my family by a trusted doctor:

1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
8 oz. water (distilled or boiled - NOT tap)
Stir well until all is dissolved. Dissolves best if water is warm or hot. Let cool COMPLETELY before using! I have made it without the baking soda, but the baking soda helps with the pH of the solution. Personally, I prefer just 1/4 tsp. of baking soda, but the above is the doctor's actual recipe

And that little bottle I bought? It wasn't a total waste. It made a GREAT cleaner for my eye glasses!


  1. Interesting!
    Toothpaste has rat poison in it and we give to kids to digest.

    My Dearest lives on Oltravin.Think that is how you spell it. He has breathing problems through the nose all year round. He loves his Oltravin. All I know is that it is about $10. a bottle now and it lasts about 3 weeks. More expensive then feeding two dogs!

    I shall keep this solution in mind. Not that I can get him to take it.

  2. I know there is some REALLY bad stuff in toothpaste. Which is the rat poison... the fluoride? Seems I remember reading that. I don't use store bought toothpaste any more. I make my own, have been for a long time, and have MUCH better results. NO plaque formation in a long time.

    That is some expensive spray! Do you know what is in it? I would clean and save one bottle and see if you could get him to try some you make at least a couple of times. You could get two more dogs, then. LOL!


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