The natural ingredient that gives spicy food its kick, capsaicin, has been utilized as a health treatment for CENTURIES. It has been used as an anesthetic and on wounds. Though it may seem appealing to people who prefer sipping hot sauce that a few glugs of the spice will do the trick, hot sauce is actually more of a band-aid than a treatment for colds.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center’s Federica Genovese, a neuroscientist, explains why hot pot isn’t a cold remedy but may still be beneficial in some cases.
CAN SPICE-RICH FOOD HEAL A COLD?
No, is the simple response. Capsaicin cannot combat viruses, which are what cause colds. The common cold is currently incurable. We’ll be the first to let you know if there is one if there ever is one. Continue reading to learn how spicy cuisine may help with some cold symptoms.
CAN SPICED FOOD HELP WITH SYMPTOMS?
Evidence supports the possibility that this is true. Consider that gustatory rhinitis, a condition caused by spicy food, can result in a runny nose. This is also the reason why eating spicy food makes you sweat. The TRPV1 receptors on the tongue, which are sensitive to intense heat, bind when spicy food touches them. Even when spicy food isn’t always hot to the touch, the brain nonetheless gets a signal that the body is experiencing pain from the heat. The body strives to evacuate whatever is causing that signal to go off by sweating, crying, and pouring snot.
But there’s a chance that this won’t be a foolproof strategy. Sinus inflammation is frequently a cause of congestion. Therefore, even if mucus accumulates, the sinuses may prevent it from draining, which could make eating spicy food ineffective. Genovese at least proposes that as a possibility.
According to Genovese, “I wonder whether it would make things worse in certain situations where you already are extremely congested, and so you just add fire to the flames.”
By functioning as a painkiller, somewhat strangely, it may also reduce symptoms. Spicy food can be potent, yet it momentarily overpowers the pain system. This could indicate that you will feel better for a while even though nothing will truly change. For example, a sore throat won’t feel rough and scratchy.
Similar behaviors are displayed by the menthol found in decongestants like Vick’s VapoRub. According to Genovese, it only increases the sinuses’ sensitivity to airflow without truly clearing or opening them. Due to your increased awareness of the little air that is passing through, you feel as though your breathing is better as a result of this sensitivity.
Applying Vicks VapoRub, she explains, “only helps us feel the air passing through our noses, not truly relieves the congestion in itself.
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IS A CAPSAICIN CAPSULE BETTER OR SPICED FOOD?
Studies on the effects of capsaicin on sick individuals use capsules with a concentrated form of the substance. Genovese believes eating spicy food makes more sense, though.
Capsaicin is only released in the intestines when consumed as a capsule. However, the anesthetic effect wouldn’t happen until the tongue comes into contact with the capsaicin, which then starts to burn.
Even when you’re healthy or just feeling under the weather, hot soup or tea can provide consolation. They can resemble a warm hug, and adding a little spice may make them seem even more encircling. A delicious, searing-hot meal can help you feel better even if spice won’t make your cold go away.