"Woohoo! That'll clear your sinuses!" - You might hear this exclamation from someone who just swallowed a bite of particularly spicy salsa.
Now on the market are effective sinus-clearing nasal sprays based on capsaicin, the fiery substance in hot peppers. In recent research, capsaicin has been used to treat not only sinus problems, but also headaches, pain, inflammation, gastric problems, obesity, and even cancer.
Christopher Columbus discovered chili peppers in the New World and called the small, red fruits "peppers" because he thought he was in India, which was Europe's source of black pepper. As early as the 1400s, the physician who accompanied Columbus began using chili peppers as medical treatments for diarrhea, cramps, flatulence, seasickness, malarial fevers, and reduction in blood clotting tendencies.
As the most potent member of a group of chemicals called capsaicinoids, capsaicin is an odorless, flavorless substance that is responsible for the burning sensation caused by chili peppers. Chili peppers are the fruits of plants belonging to the Capsicum genus.
According to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, M.D., frequent guest of the Oprah Winfrey Show, chili peppers are "superfoods," and capsaicin can relieve and prevent headaches as well as chronic sinus infections.
"Substance P(a nueropeptide)is the key transmitter of pain to the brain," says Dr. Perricone. "In fact, Substance P is the body's main mechanism for producing swelling and pain throughout the trigeminal nerve, which runs through the head, temple, and sinus cavity. When the nerve fibers come in contact with Substance P, they react by swelling - an effect that yields headaches and sinus symptoms. Clinical studies have shown that capsaicin, a compound in hot peppers, is extremely effective for relieving and preventing cluster headaches, migraine headaches, and sinus headaches."
Capsaicin based sprays desensitize the mucous membranes in the nose, making them less irritated by airborne particles and quickly relieving symptoms of allergies and sinus congestion. By stimulating secretions to help clear mucus, these sprays prevent allergy triggers while keeping your nasal passages moist, clean, and free of bacteria.
"Capsaicin also possesses powerful antibacterial properties, and is very effective in fighting and preventing chronic sinus infections (sinusitis). This purely natural chemical will also clear out congested nasal passages like nothing else, and is helpful in treating sinus-related allergy symptoms. Small daily doses of capsaicin have even been shown to prevent chronic nasal congestion."
Hospitals, universities and clinics around the world are using capsaicin for chronic headache patients with outstanding results. The all-natural ingredients relaxes the muscles and blood vessels around the eyes and forehead, providing fast relief.
Capsaicin ingredients are not known for side effects as a nasal spray, however, it's not recommended for children under 12 years of age because the capsaicin may sting at first. If you are allergic to chili peppers, do not use sprays with capsaicin based ingredients