Have you ever heard of using something called capsaicin to treat your nasal symptoms, such as congestion, sinus pressure and post-nasal drip? Do you even know what capsaicin is?
I have just recently learned of a study that suggests there could be real promise in using this alternative, more natural approach to treating the nonallergic type of rhinitis. (Nasal allergies are the allergic type of rhinitis.)
Capsaicin is a natural substance found in hot chili peppers. It’s what makes your eyes water, your throat and lips burn, and other sensations of heat in the body when you eat these hot peppers.
Capsaicin is also the main ingredient in pepper spray used for self defense and in topical lotions used to treat painful conditions, such as arthritis, diabetic neuropathy and shingles. Besides causing burning sensations in your mucous membranes, capsaicin also acts on pain receptors in the body, effectively deadening them for a time.
Facts About the Study
The study recently published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology tested a nasal spray containing capsaicin called Sinus Buster against a placebo nasal spray to see if there would be any effect on nonallergic nasal symptoms.
It was a relatively small study, using only 42 subjects over a 2-week period, but the results were quite astonishing. The drug started providing relief in less than a minute and people in the study who received Sinus Buster had significantly less nasal congestion than people who got the placebo.
Not only did the capsaicin spray help with congestion, it also provided significant relief of sinus pressure, headache and pain. And the study showed no significant side effects from the spray either. And it’s important to note that the amount of capsaicin in the spray is so minute that it does not in any way trigger the type of discomfort you get from self-defense pepper spray. So, no worries there.
What Does This Mean for Those of Us Who Have Allergies?
There is not enough evidence to date to prove that capsaicin spray would be effective in treating the symptoms of nasal allergies. But since it does appear to be a safe, nondrug treatment, there also is likely to be little harm in trying it out to see if it would help your allergy symptoms, especially if you’re finding as I do that the medications just don’t always work that well.
Here’s a webpage where you can find stores that sell Sinus Buster. (In my area, Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid all carry it.) I think I may just try it out myself, and I’ll let you know what I experience.
Kathi is an experienced consumer health education writer, with a prior career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years — much of it in the field of home health care. Over the past 15 years, she’s been an avid contributor for a number of consumer health websites, specializing in asthma, allergy, and COPD. She writes not only as a healthcare professional, but also as a lifelong sufferer of severe allergies and mild asthma, and as a caregiver for her mother with COPD.