Is Spicy Food Good for Cold and Cough? Benefits and Risks Explained

We have all heard that old wives’ tale about spice being good for cold and cough, but is there any truth to it? In this article, we will explore the benefits of spicy food during a cold and cough, as well as some of the best spicy foods to eat when you’re feeling under the weather. Additionally, we’ll dive into other natural remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of a cold and cough.

Is Spicy Food Good for Cold and Cough?

If you’ve ever had a stuffy nose or a persistent cough, you’re probably willing to try just about anything to find relief. One common remedy that has been touted as a possible solution is spicy food.

Scientific Evidence Supporting the Benefits of Spicy Food

Studies have shown that certain compounds found in spicy foods, such as capsaicin, can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with colds and coughs. Capsaicin has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce swelling in the nasal passages and ease congestion.

  • A 2015 study published in The BMJ found that participants who consumed hot drinks with ginger and other spices experienced more relief from their cold symptoms than those who drank warm water alone.
  • Another study conducted by Penn State University showed that consuming spicy foods increased nasal secretions, which helped clear out mucus from the airways.

Explanation of How Spicy Food Helps with Cold and Cough Symptoms

The heat generated by consuming spicy foods can cause your body to produce more saliva and mucus, which can help soothe irritated tissues in your throat. This increased saliva production also helps fight bacteria and viruses that may be causing your cold or cough.

In addition, the capsaicin found in many spicy ingredients acts as a natural decongestant, helping to break up mucus so it’s easier to cough up or blow out of your nose. This not only provides immediate relief but also reduces inflammation over time – both important steps towards fighting off respiratory infections.

Risks of Consuming Spicy Food During a Cold or Cough

While consuming spicy food can provide relief for cold and cough symptoms, there are some risks involved that should be taken into consideration.

  • Spicy food can cause heartburn, which may exacerbate symptoms of acid reflux or GERD.
  • Eating too much spicy food at once can also lead to diarrhea, which can further dehydrate your system when you’re already sick.
  • If you have sensitive taste buds or a low tolerance for spicy foods, consuming them during a cold or cough may only serve to irritate the throat and make things worse.

Factors to Consider Before Consuming Spicy Food During a Cold or Cough

Before deciding whether or not to consume spicy foods while dealing with cold or cough symptoms, there are a few factors that should be considered:

  • The severity of your symptoms: If you’re experiencing severe congestion, sinus pain, or other respiratory issues, it’s best to avoid anything that could potentially further irritate the area.
  • Your personal tolerance for spicy foods: If you know from experience that spicy foods tend to cause discomfort in your digestive system, consuming them during an illness may not be worth the risk.
  • Your overall health: People who have certain medical conditions such as ulcers or inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract should exercise caution before adding more spice to their diet.

In conclusion, while spicy food can provide relief for cold and cough symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory properties and natural decongestant effects – it’s important to consider possible risks based on individual circumstances. Moderation is key!

Best Spicy Foods to Eat During Cold and Cough

If you’re looking for some relief from a cold or cough, adding spicy foods to your diet might help. Spices like ginger, cayenne pepper, and garlic can help alleviate symptoms and boost your immune system. Here are some of the best spicy foods to eat during a cold or cough:


  • Fresh ginger root can be boiled in water with lemon and honey to make a soothing tea.
  • You can add fresh ginger to stir-fries, soups, and curries.

Ginger helps reduce inflammation in the body and is also known for its antibacterial properties. It’s great for relieving sore throats and congestion.

Cayenne Pepper

  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper on roasted vegetables or grilled chicken for a spicy kick.
  • Add it to stews or chilis for extra heat.

Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin which helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It also provides vitamin A which supports healthy mucus membranes.


  • Add minced garlic to pasta dishes, soup or sautéed vegetables for added flavor.
  • Eat garlic raw by crushing into small pieces mixed with honey (a natural supplement) one teaspoonful every few hours
  • .

Garlic has antiviral, antibacterial properties that make it an excellent food choice when you’re sick. Consumption of raw garlic also helps improve immune function by stimulating white blood cell activity, speeding up recovery time from illnesses such as colds.


This spice has antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A turmeric blend with milk and honey is a classic warm soothing beverage while also boosting your immune system.

Meal Ideas

  • Cayenne pepper lentil soup: Delicious way to consume lentils, which are good sources of protein and an important source of zinc, which helps prevent viral infections. Cayenne pepper adds quick energy, warmth and flavor to this soup.
  • Ginger garlic chicken stir-fry: The combination of ginger and garlic in a dish will provide immense relief to your throat passage during colds when our sinuses become inflamed making breathing difficult or painful..

Incorporating these spicy foods into your diet can help you feel better during a cold or cough. Try adding them to meals as much as possible for the maximum health benefits.

Other Natural Remedies for Cold and Cough

If you’re looking for natural remedies to help relieve your cold and cough symptoms, there are plenty of options to consider. Here’s an overview of some other effective options:

Herbal tea:

  • Eucalyptus tea can help relieve congestion and soothe sore throats.
  • Ginger tea is great for easing nausea and reducing inflammation in the body.
  • Peppermint tea helps to relax muscles, including those in the respiratory tract, which can make breathing easier.


  • Honey has antimicrobial properties that can help fight infections and soothe sore throats. Mix it with lemon or ginger for even greater benefits.
  • A spoonful of honey before bedtime can also ease a nighttime cough, helping you get better rest.


  • The sulfur compounds found in garlic have been shown to have antiviral properties that may help prevent or reduce the duration of a cold. However, more research is needed on this topic.

Spicy foods vs other remedies:

While spicy foods like hot sauce or curry might provide temporary relief from nasal congestion by clearing the sinuses, they don’t address all cold symptoms. Additionally, not everyone enjoys spicy food or can handle its intensity; that’s why incorporating multiple natural remedies might be beneficial.

Incorporating multiple remedies:

To optimize relief:

  • Brew a herbal tea like peppermint before adding a spoonful of honey (both have muscle-relaxing effects)

  • Create a garlic-honey tea that helps boost your immune system and ease coughs/sore throats

  • Take advantage of warm steam. Combine ingredients like peppermint, eucalyptus oil or sage to hot water for an effective chest decongestant.

Remember; natural remedies only aim to alleviate symptoms, they are not a substitute for medical treatment if necessary.


In conclusion, while spicy food may not necessarily cure your cold or cough, it can provide some temporary relief from its uncomfortable symptoms. Ginger tea, honey and turmeric milk are also great options if you want to soothe your throat naturally. If you are experiencing severe or persistent symptoms—or if you have additional health concerns—it’s always best to consult a doctor.


Can spicy food make my sore throat worse?

It’s possible. While some people find relief from spicy food during a sore throat, others may experience increased discomfort. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Are there any risks associated with eating too much spicy food during a cold?

Eating very hot sauces or peppers in excessive amounts can lead to stomach issues like indigestion or heartburn; however moderate consumption shouldn’t cause any harm.

Should I avoid dairy products?

Some people believe that consuming dairy encourages mucus production making things more difficult for treating a cold or coughs. However these claims lack scientific evidence. So don’t worry about cutting out on calcium-rich foods!

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