Spicy foods cause runny noses for one simple reason: they contain the chemical capsaicin, which causes inflammation in the nerves and elevates the production of mucus in the nasal membranes. This leads to an increase in the draining action of the nasal passages. While the result may not be aesthetically pleasing, there are actually a number of reasons why this may be a good thing for the body.
Eating spicy foods when they have a cold is one way that people can take advantage of the action of capsaicin. For many people, one of the worst conditions associated with the common cold is a stuffy nose. While it is possible to take a decongestant and get some relief, the fact is the effect will not last all that long and will not do much to resolve the problem in the long term. Instead, a spicy curry or similar dish will not only provide the body with some much needed nutrients, but the heat from the spices will act as a natural decongestant, bringing relief quickly without any side effects at all. With a full stomach and the ability to breathe temporarily restored, it is often much easier for someone with a cold to get the sleep the needed to fight off the virus.
The fact that spicy foods cause runny noses is also a sign that the body needs to expel excess mucus. Capsaicin helps the veins and arteries to open up and begin to flush out elements that could eventually lead to blockages in the body. This natural phase of house cleaning helps to keep the body in better operating condition. Spicy foods are nature’s way of allowing the body to perform general maintenance, ensuring fewer health issues and promoting quicker recovery.
Just because spicy foods cause runny noses does not mean that every time a person has a spicy dish, his nose is going to run like a water faucet. If there isn’t much that needs to be expelled from the body, then there will not be much in the way of nose running. While it is true that few people are fond of having a runny nose, many people report being able to breathe more clearly and feeling less head congestion after a plateful of hot Thai noodles and a few moments of wiping the nose. The health benefits often far outweigh the inconvenience of a couple moments of a runny nose.