Can Spicy Foods Provide Natural Allergy Relief?

When you eat a particularly spicy meal, did you ever notice that it causes your nose to run? That's because the spice can actually serve as a natural decongestant. In fact, before you turn to allergy or cold medicines, you may want to try this all natural approach and forego some of the side effects that you might get with traditional medications.

Naturally Allergy Relief

While your doctor isn't apt to write you a prescription for hot peppers, curry sauce or extra spicy salsa, the fact is that adding such foods to your diet when your symptoms are particularly bothersome just may make you feel much better. Better yet, not only will this natural allergy relief hopefully help to open up your blocked nasal passages, it may also taste great, too, and fill you up with packing in too many extra calories.

A Tasty Way to Open Sinuses

It seems that many people with chronic sinusitis and other sinus ailments that result from ongoing allergies seem to gravitate toward spicier foods, perhaps out of instinct, since they may have learned early on that eating this way does make their headache feel better.

And while eating spicy foods won't prevent an allergic reaction, this natural allergy relief is a great way to unclog your sinuses while avoiding some of the side effects that decongestants, antihistamines and other medications can cause.

These Seasonings Are Nothing to Sneeze At

Some popular spicy foods include hot peppers, cayenne sauce, tabasco, curry, chili seasoning, wasabi and garlic. All of these seasonings can be easily added to almost any food next time you need some natural allergy relief. While there is no scientific formula for what you should eat and how much, you can experiment and see what works for your symptoms and your taste buds.

Not for Everyone

Just keep in mind that although spicy foods can be a great natural decongestant, this is not the best choice for all allergy sufferers. If you have a sensitive stomach or are prone acid reflux or ulcers, eating spicy foods can aggravate these conditions even while helping you breathe better, so all you are doing is trading one ailment in for another one that may be even worse. Further, if your throat is sore or raw from your allergies, the spicy food can also be very irritating to this area. Finally, some allergy sufferers find that eating spicy foods can in itself actually spark an immune system reaction, so be on the lookout for an increase in symptoms if you do try this remedy.

Here's some food for thought, though.  If you can't bear the heat, look for similar natural allergy relief in a less dramatic way. Try eating products that contain anise or licorice extracts, since both of these are sometimes used to help ease congestion symptoms.


America Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI)

The Mayo Clinic

US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health