Spicy foods can make your nose run and eyes water, but they are also great natural decongestants.
So which spices, specifically will help?
Cayenne pepper features in many of our dishes. It’s a great spice to use in place of black pepper in your everyday cooking too, especially for anyone suffering from Candida, in which case black pepper is ill-advised. Traditional medicine has used capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne, for centuries as a pain reliever and to help with circulation and digestive problems and to aid a poor appetite. Although no research has examined foods containing cayenne pepper and flu symptoms, research has found that nasal sprays containing capsaicin may reduce congestion. A 2011 study published in “Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology” found that subjects that used the capsaicin nasal spray over a period of two weeks had less congestion. We find it preferable to eat our curries rather than snort them, however!
Garlic has frequently been used, though the ages and by many cultures, as a medicine. It contains antioxidants to protect against free radical damage and also is a decongestant. A 2001 study published in “Advances in Therapy” found that subjects that took garlic supplements had fewer colds and enjoyed a faster recovery time.
You’ll also do well to focus on an anti-inflammatory diet when you’re suffering from a cold or flu. These spices are all anti-inflammatory and we’ve listed and linked to the curry packs that particularly feature each: Cardamom (Madras); Cloves (Vindaloo); Fennel Seeds (Madras, Patia); Ginger (Jalfrezi); Garlic (Jalfrezi); Nutmeg (Pasanda); Turmeric (in just about everything); Black Pepper (Vindaloo)
Another tip I use that’s meant to kill germs is to place half a raw onion in the room overnight. You must chop it to expose the raw flesh which is said to kill the germs. The blacker the onion is by morning, the better it’s said to have done its job. Sounds odd, and sleeping with the smell of onion takes a little getting used to, but if it means a swifter end to the dreaded “man flu”, it’s worth it.
Of course, you could go the more pleasant route back to health and use the illness as an excuse to over-indulge on some particularly spicy curries. If you’re the patient AND the cook, the last thing you want is to be spending hours in the kitchen. Good thing, then, that our curry packs have such short preparation and cooking times. We didn’t call them “easy peasy curries” for the good of our health.