My sinuses are constantly congested.

I know some spices can help with clearing them. However, I also know that some types of spice affect my nose and sinuses while others merely burn my mouth (not helpful at all).

What types of spices hit the sinus?

  • Sorry, it is really "cooking" and not "food", and especially the non-culinary applications of food, plus anything health-related, are off topic.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 17, 2016 at 21:18
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about cooking.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 17, 2016 at 21:18
  • @rumtscho I disagree, although his reasoning for the question is slightly off topic, I don't think the core of the question is off-topic at all.
    – Jay
    Mar 18, 2016 at 14:22
  • 5
    I have edit most of the "health" aspect out of the question and voted to reopen.
    – Jay
    Mar 18, 2016 at 14:28
  • Traditionally, we have closed questions asked for off topic reasons. But it seems that the community supports reopening, so I will reopen and let's see how the question fares.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 18, 2016 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


There are several different compounds that affects our nervous system in a way that we colloquially call "spicy" or "hot". The most common ones in culinary use are Capsaisin, Gingerol, Piperine and Allyl Isothiocyanate.

Capsaisin is the type of spiciness you feel on your tongue and throat. This is found in the different types of chili peppers.

Piperine is a low but accumulating burn on your tongue. This is found in black pepper.

Gingerol is what causes the sharpness and spiciness found in ginger.

Allyl Isothiocyanate is the compound which causes the burn that hits the sinus. This can be found in mustard, radish, horseradish and wasabi.


Two that always clear my sinuses are Wasabi and Chinese Hot Mustard

  • I'll second the wasabi -- it's one of my go-to things for when I'm majorly congested. (it's possible that normal horseradish would too, but I've never tested it)
    – Joe
    Mar 18, 2016 at 0:42
  • A strong English mustard also works for me. Mar 18, 2016 at 16:29

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