A case study of the Neti Pot’s rise, americanization, and rupture as integrative medicine in U.S. media discourse
journal contributionposted on 23.03.2016, 16:19 by Evelyn Y. Ho, Kathryn A. Cady, Jessica RoblesJessica Robles
In a period of only one decade in the United States, the neti pot shifted from obscure Ayurvedic health device to mainstream complementary and integrative medicine (CIM), touted by celebrities and sold widely in drug stores. We examine the neti pot as a case study for understanding how a foreign health practice became mainstreamed, and what that process reveals about more general discourses of health in the United States. Using discourse analysis of U.S. popular press and new media news (1999–2012) about the neti pot, we trace the development of discourses from neti’s first introduction in mainstream news, through the hype following Dr. Oz’s presentation on Oprah, to 2011 when two adults tragically died after using Naegleria fowleri amoeba-infested tap water in their neti pots. Neti pot discourses are an important site for communicative analysis because of the pot’s complexity as an intercultural artifact: Neti pots and their use are enfolded into the biomedical practice of nasal irrigation and simultaneously Orientalized as exotic/magical and suspect/dangerous. This dual positioning as normal and exotic creates inequitable access for using the neti pot as a resource for increasing cultural health capital (CHC). This article contributes to work that critically theorizes the transnationalism of CIM, as the neti pot became successfully Americanized. These results have implications for understanding global health practices’ incorporation or co-optation in new contexts, and the important role that popularly mediated health communication can play in framing what health care products and practices mean for consumers.
- Social Sciences
- Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies