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Chili Peppers and Nasal Congestion

Chili Peppers to Clear Your Sinuses

November is in full swing and so is the cough/cold season. Don’t let congestion bog you down. The next time you’re feeling a bit stuffed up and want some immediate relief, try reaching for some chili peppers! If you love spicy food, this is the perfect cure for you.

Have you ever eaten spicy food and found that suddenly your stuffy nose was clear? Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that not only makes peppers spicy, but studies have also shown that it reduces sinus symptoms, such as nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, sneezing, coughing, and mucous production.

Capsaicin can be found in all chili peppers except for bell peppers, which have a recessive gene preventing its production. Peppers, such as cayenne, jalapeños, tabasco, birdseye chili, habañeros, and Scotch bonnets all contain capsaicin. Adding them to foods, or using the ground chili powder forms, can help reduce nasal congestion.

A note on wasabi:

It may seem as if wasabi has this same effect on your sinuses. This is because wasabi may react with heat receptors in the nose causing your nostrils to flare and allowing more air into the nasal passages. Your brain is tricked to believe there is less congestion. However, studies have found that wasabi can actually block the sinuses by increasing blood flow to the lining of the nose.

Though wasabi may not work as a decongestant, it does have several health benefits, including antimicrobial properties beneficial for seasoning raw fish. If you’re a fan of wasabi and spice, enjoy!

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