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rgruby

Does eating spicy food make your nose run?

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They sure do make my nose run--and it's an effect I've used to my advantage whenever I've had a cold, and needed a pleasant alternative to over-the-counter nasal decongestants. I mean, really: given a choice between artifically-cherry-flavored NyQuil and a big steaming bowl of hot-and-sour soup, which would you choose? :laugh:

This webpage supplies a plausible rationale for the effect. Works for me.

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According to Son Peter (at the time, age 4), "because the make your sciences run." Works for me. Helps if you inhale the spicy scent.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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It's important to differentiate between various "spicy" ingredients. Mustard, wasabi and horseradish, for instance, affect your nasal passages pretty directly -- take a hit of one of those and your eyes will water and your nose will run immediately. Whereas capsaicin, while hot on the tongue, doesn't really affect mucus membranes when you eat foods that contain it. The circumstances in which capsaicin come into play are if it's dispersed in cooking -- as when you lean over a wok when you're cooking chile flakes in hot oil -- or if you inadvertently sniff cayenne (well, yes, I have, in case you're wondering -- don't ask). Not to mention touching mucus membranes with capsaicin-covered hands. But just eating foods with chiles doesn't do much to your nasal passages.

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Capsaicin is an irritant, the primary function in nature is to detract herbivores from eating plants that contain it. Human's enjoyment of spicy foods have often been called a form of benign masochism; an exchange of pain with pleasure- capsaicin with endorphins.

As an irritant, capsaicin causes an immune system response. Inflammation of mucosal membranes, increase of body temperature, profuse sweating, rise in gastric acids, etc. These are symptoms of our immune system trying to defend itself from said irritant. There's even been evidence that suggests that capsaicin, and this ritual of elevating inflammatory response of our immune system can actually be good for you.


Edited by Temple (log)

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But just eating foods with chiles doesn't do much to your nasal passages.

Perhaps chiles affect people in different ways, and certainly different chiles cause "burn" in different parts of the mouth/throat. I know from personal experience that capsaicin is a powerful decongestant--I have nasal, lung, and eye reactions from especially hot foods. Heck, you can buy capsaicin nasal decongestant spray at natural remedy/health food stores.

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But just eating foods with chiles doesn't do much to your nasal passages.

Perhaps chiles affect people in different ways, and certainly different chiles cause "burn" in different parts of the mouth/throat. I know from personal experience that capsaicin is a powerful decongestant--I have nasal, lung, and eye reactions from especially hot foods. Heck, you can buy capsaicin nasal decongestant spray at natural remedy/health food stores.

Yep. I know hot chiles clear my sinuses without being dispersed by cooking, accidently inhaled as a powder or as a result of touch. The first year I grew red savina habaneros, one ripened to red much earlier and while a good bit smaller than the rest on the plant. I thought maybe it would be a good test subject so I grabbed it from the plant, popped it in my mouth and ate it. Picture the small child crying fit... snot running from the nose, drool running from the mouth faster than I could contain it. It wasn't pretty. They sure are tasty though. That nice fruity flavor just before the pain doesn't seem to survive cooking or drying too well so it's a necessary occasional self torture to enjoy it.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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My former husband, a native Texan and great aficionado of Mexican food, made this lament a while back while eating in a local Mexican restaurant:

"I hate all the damn yankees that have moved down here. For one thing, they've ruined the Mexican food. It's not even hot enough anymore to make your nose run."

:laugh:


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Yes, it does. It also makes my upper lip sweat. :smile:

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At the risk of over-commenting on this thread, I would like to point out that:

-Sinuses and nasal passages are not the same thing. The assertion "hot chiles clear out my sinuses" should be

restated as "hot chiles clear out my nasal passages". Air does not pass through the sinus cavities when you breath. This use of the term "sinus" is very widespread and leads to a misunderstanding of how the nose works.

-The lining of the nose(and all of the respiratory tract,actually) is rife with tiny mucus secreting glands which are hooked up with the parasympathetic nervous system. The purpose of this mucus is to lubricate the lining and to trap inhaled particulate matter to filter it from the lungs. This mucus, along with what it has trapped runs from the nose down the throat and is digested. About 1-1.5 quarts of this mucus is secreted daily. The glands are thus charged with keeping the nose clean. If you assist in fighting a brush fire, smoke etc. you increase the demand on the cleaning apparatus of your nose-namely your glands have to secrete more mucus to deal with the larger number of particles to clean.

-The sensors in your nasal lining are not designed to tell the difference between various noxious stimuli such as ammonia, capsaicin, or allyl isothiocyanate(active compound in wasabi, horseradish and mustard). The nasal lining glands simply say "get rid of it!" and secrete like mad. The difference in wasabi and chiles on your nose, I suspect, is due to different volatility of the active compounds.

- When runny noses are caused by spicy foods it is called gustatory rhinitis, and is a normal phemoneon.

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Yep - and it makes my face flush, too (I have rosecea!)

Me too - but it doesn't stop me ordering Hot & Sour Soup when a cold's stuffy nose, fuzzy head syndrome settles in. My palate seems to die with the onset of a cold and the only thing I can taste is something spicy e.g. Hot & Sour soup.

Rover

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Does it ever! I like to think it's the main reason I generally don't get sick...I eat so much spicy food it just runs right on out (of my nose, that is.)

I also advocate for spicy food when one has a sore throat. I had a VERY sore throat this past January. Ordered some Mediterranean Noodles from the Middle Eastern place next door, asked them to make them extra spicy. I was shocked, yet very pleased, to discover that the more I ate, the more my throat improved. It was totally gone by the next day. Spicy food helped more than any sore throat drops I had.


Erin

"American by birth, Irish by the grace of God"

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Nothing lovelier for a cold than HOT hot & sour soup.

The soup makes me happy and my nose clears itself out a bit. As long as I'm prepared with plenty of napkins, handkerchiefs, etc, it's great.

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Along with making my nose run - sometimes I get incredibly VIOLENT, PAINFUL, and somewhat embarrassing hiccups. Gut-wrenching. Anybody else get those?

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I get the hiccups, if food is very spicy. I thought it was normal, but I only have met one other person who does it.

Mine are not violent or painful though.

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My nose runs freely when I eat hot peppers, and if they are hot enough, hiccups can happen.

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I get the hiccups, if food is very spicy. I thought it was normal, but I only have met one other person who does it.

Mine are not violent or painful though.

I grew up on spicy food, but this happens to me: if I suddenly and unexpectedly bite into something very spicy (not just average spicy): then violent, LOUD, and very painful hiccups.

A sure cure for me: a pinch of sugar way in the back of my tongue, as near to the uvula as I can get, or a spoonful of ice cream trickling down the back of my throat. Water doesn't cure me.

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