Chilli up your nose
Chilli, or cayenne, has a long and fascinating history. It spices up many a dish but also features in medicines around the world as everything from a circulatory stimulant to a pain reliever for arthritis. While the thought of sticking chilli up your nose may bring water to your eyes, in fact spraying chilli up the old proboscis might actually do exactly the reverse.
A new study looked at the effect of chilli spray applied up the nose of people who suffer with non-allergic rhinitis, an inflammation of the nose not related to pollens or other allergens. So non-allergic rhinitis is a separate condition to hayfever. It is caused by a range of environmental factors including the weather, household chemicals and perfumes. There are cases though, in which the trigger or the nasal inflammation cannot be identified.
In the study half of these people sprayed a chilli spray up their nose each day for a period of two weeks. The other half of the group were given a placebo spray.
The people who used chilli reported relief of nasal congestion, sinus pain, and sinus pressure within a minute of using the spray, on average.
This not surprising because we know that capsaicin, the active ingredient from chilli, has pain relieving properties and the capacity to boost circulation. This latter effect could reduce congestion and the benefit of the pain relief is obvious.
While the results of the trial were not surprising in the sense of what chilli can do, what was surprising was that people involved could take it every day for a prolonged period. Previous research on chilli spray for rhinitis has found that the spray was too hot for the nostrils in question to handle. What these researchers have done is develop a spray that is not too hot and can be tolerated on a sustained basis. No doubt a product based on the technology will be available soon.
In the meantime most noses are too sensitive to tolerate having unadulterated chilli stuck up them, so donâ€™t go wandering around with a chilli up your nose expecting your sinus problems to be alleviated, although it would be a conversation starter.