Can Spicy Food Help You Breathe Better?

Devotees of spicy foods know that a bit of heat improves every dish. The popularity of picante foods keeps growing; more and more palates demand spicy cheeses, chips, and popcorns. While hot sauces add a bit of excitement to any dish, they also inadvertently help clear their sinuses and improve lung health.

Spicy food can help you breathe better. The natural ingredients that provide heat to spicy food help you breathe better by reducing inflammation and thinning blocked mucus. A wide variety of hot foods clear your airways and protect your lungs.

This article looks at how sinus congestion hinders your breathing and the ways that spicy foods can help with blocked nasal passages. Read on to learn about the impact that different spicy foods have on the various breathing complications.

How Spicy Foods Improve Your Breathing

Spicy foods help us breathe by breaking up and clearing sinus congestion. Comprehending how hot foods achieve this requires a rudimentary understanding of what sinus congestion is and how it forms. 

Understanding Congestion and Its Effects

Congestion happens when nasal tissue is inflamed. Blockages prevent the mucus in your nasal passages from adequately draining. The undrained mucus sits in your sinuses, creating pressure and complicating breathing. Sinus congestion also causes the following ailments:

  • sinus pain
  • sinus headache
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • post-nasal drip
  • pressure in your face and eyes
  • fever
  • coughing

These symptoms are unpleasant, but spicy food provides rapid, temporary relief and helps you breathe more freely. What is it about peppers and their pungent relatives that defeat congestion? Let’s take a closer look:

Capsaicin Creates Spiciness and Fights Congestion

Capsaicin is the magic ingredient that gives many spicy foods their kick. Capsaicin is an irritant present in the membrane around pepper seeds. In other words, it’s the hot part of hot peppers. Ingesting capsaicin triggers your heat receptors and convinces your nervous system that it’s over-heating.

Your brain, convinced that you need to be cooled, releases all of your liquids to lower your temperature. Essentially, your body is trying to purge the capsaicin from your system.

Your body uses its many liquids to cool the capsaicin’s heat. Your body thins and releases blocked mucus to achieve cooling, making respiration easier and more natural. Capsaicin also reduces inflammation, allowing mucus to pass through your nasal passages more easily. 

Capsaicin has the following functions:

  • ease sinus pain
  • reduce inflammation
  • release blocked mucus
  • thin mucus

Capsaicin’s results are temporary, but they do provide some relief to congested sinuses. Capsaicin’s respiratory benefits go beyond just sinus congestion. The substance also helps with asthma. 

Capsaicin Can Provide Relief for Asthma Sufferers

Put simply, capsaicin is an irritant to humans and animals. It stimulates and then blocks nerves that induce coughing, shortness of breath, and other asthma symptoms when it is consumed. 

Initially, capsaicin inflames the airway, which is a common cause of asthma attacks. However, capsaicin numbs and desensitizes your airway nerve endings, which actually reduces inflammation and washes histamine out of your system. 

Other Spicy Foods That Aid Breathing

The positive impact hot foods have on breathing isn’t limited to capsaicin and peppers. Several other spicy foods help improve your breathing through natural properties. These include the following:

Below I will explain each of these spicy foods and the best ways to use them to help your breathing.



Horseradish is a polarizing food; people either love it or hate it. Despite the root vegetable’s divisive taste, it’s full of health benefits. Horseradish contains phytocompounds, which boost antioxidants. It also contains sinigrin, which gives the veggie anti-inflammatory elements.

However, horseradish’s greatest strength is its ability to clear congested sinuses. The vegetable has an acrid smell that loosens the mucus in your nasal passageway. According to a 2006 study, horseradish treats bronchitis and acute sinus infections as effectively as a course of antibiotics. 

Horseradish only helps those who consume it. The vegetable is used primarily as a condiment, but you can drink it in tea as well. Those who prefer to make their own horseradish dressing over buying a jar from a store can do so by following these simple steps:

  1. Buy fresh horseradish.
  2. Blend or grate six to ten inches (15.24 – 25.4 cm) of the vegetable.
  3. Add one tablespoon (14.78 ml) of white vinegar, salt to taste, and enough water to achieve spreading consistency. 
  4. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Keep your horseradish dressing in the refrigerator for three to four weeks.  

Horseradish is hugely beneficial if you can stomach it. The root has antiviral properties and Vitamin C, and will help you fight cancer while it eases your sinus congestion. 



Fresh ginger helps treat respiratory infections that cause shortness of breath. The root is particularly effective against the respiratory syncytial virus, a condition that can lead to bronchitis and pneumonia and impacts the lungs and respiratory tract.

Ginger further impacts breathing by loosening mucus membranes blocking the nasal passages. Make a hot cup of ginger tea and inhale the fumes through your nose. The steam will break up congestion and clear out mucus.

Raw Garlic

Garlic’s impact on breathing usually focuses on the aromatic aspect. While it’s true that garlic heavily scents your breath, it is rich in allicin, a powerful compound that serves as an antibiotic agent. Allicin heals lung-clogging respiratory infections that make you feel short of breath. Garlic is also anti-inflammatory and helps treat asthma.

Raw Onions

Red onions

Raw onions-contain natural antihistamine properties, which provide incredible asthma relief. Raw onions have flavonoids that relax isolated trachea muscles, easing the breathing of people living with asthma. Raw onions also reduce inflammation, allowing for easier respiration. Brown onions are most effective, followed by white, then red. 



Turmeric is incredibly helpful to respiration. The spice is rich in curcumin, an element that benefits your lungs in several ways. 

Curcumin reduces instances of acute respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, laryngitis, and bronchitis by fighting infections and suppressing NF-kB. NF-kB is a protein that causes inflammation and builds up mucus in the airways. 

Turmeric also breaks up congested mucus. The spice works best in liquid form; gargle some turmeric juice mixed with tepid water, or mix some turmeric into a smoothie. The spice will protect you from environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke, exhaust, dust, and viruses.

Spicy Mustard

Spicy Mustard

Mustard is a stealth health food. The unexpected relative of cabbage and broccoli, the condiment is full of sinigrin and myrosin, chemicals that thin and loosen mucus. A healthy dose of mustard clears your nasal passageways and aids breathing. 

Mustard’s benefits aren’t limited to those who enjoy the taste of the condiment. Mustard can help ease the following ailments:

  • Congestion
  • Headaches
  • Lung Conditions
  • Muscle aches
  • Bronchitis

Mustard casts are easy to make. You’ll need dry mustard, flour, water, and two six-by-six-inch fabric squares. Once you’ve gathered these supplies, follow these steps:

  1. Mix a tablespoon of flour (14.78 g) and a tablespoon (14.78 g) of dried mustard in a small bowl.
  2. Add water to the dry ingredients until a thick paste forms.
  3. Sandwich the paste between the two fabric squares.
  4. Put the plaster on your chest or other impacted area.
  5. Leave the cast on for fifteen minutes.
  6. Make sure you only leave the plaster on for fifteen minutes—anything longer will irritate your skin.
  7. Wash your hands thoroughly before you touch your face and eyes.

However, if you choose to utilize mustard—internally or externally—the seed provides a slew of health benefits and helps you breathe easier.


Spicy foods are both delicious and beneficial to your health. Consuming hot foods loosens mucus, reduces inflammation, and strengthens lung health. 

Spicy foods help treat asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Respiration-aiding hot foods aren’t limited to peppers; there’s a wide variety of dietary options for those hoping to use natural foods for breathing easier.


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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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