Cleanse Your Sinuses with Spicy Food

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Light those allergens aflame!

No matter how tightly I shut my doors and windows, nor how strong I run my air purifier, I can never seem to completely shut springtime allergens out of my home. I absolutely despise springtime allergies, and genuinely envy those who don’t have to put up with them. When you’re really suffering from allergies, the usual reaction is to employ some manner of allergy medication or nasal spray, but since that stuff can be a little pricy and potentially unhealthy in large doses, it’s good to have an alternative on hand. So… how do you feel about hot peppers?


When your body detects allergens like pollen, it releases special antibodies that trigger the release of histamines. Histamines, despite a normal part of your body’s defense system, are what cause symptoms like runny noses, itchy eyes, and all that other fun stuff. As it so happens, spicy foods like jalapeño peppers, wasabi, horseradish, and ginger all contain large amounts of the chemical compound capsaicin, a natural antihistamine and a common ingredient in some nasal sprays. The spiciness of capsaicin stimulates the nerves in your nasal passages, loosening mucus and counteracting the effects of histamines. You know how your nose gets kinda runny when you eat something spicy? Same thing.

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Of course, you can’t just be downing wasabi all day to fight off allergies. Using spicy foods to counter allergy symptoms is a method best used in small doses, as too much spiciness can cause irritation of its own. If you have an aversion to spiciness, you can also try adding certain herbs to your food. Herbs like elderberry, turmeric, and cardamom have similar antihistamine properties to peppers and the like without packing nearly as much of a spicy punch. Though, personally, I prefer the spicy punch.