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Cold and Flu Center

Decongestant Foods

author image Jojo Genden
Based in Chicago, Jojo Genden is passionate about sharing her health and wellness expertise through writing since 2008. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Rockford College, and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Genden is a registered nurse in the state of Illinois with a background in intensive care.
Decongestant Foods
A cup of ginger tea with lemon slices. Photo Credit a_namenko/iStock/Getty Images


Nasal congestion refers stuffiness of the nose commonly accompanying upper respiratory infections such as cold, flu or sinus infection, according to Medline Plus, as service of the National Institutes of Health. Other causes of congestion can be attributed to allergies, pregnancy, excessive use of nasal sprays or nasal polyps. Another cause comes from dilated nasal blood vessels resulting from inflammation. Remedies right from the kitchen can help ease nasal congestion.

Drinks for Decongestion

Medline Plus suggest increasing fluid intake in forms of hot tea, broth or chicken soup help to clear the nasal passages by thinning out mucus. Chicken soup especially provides a time tested remedy to thin mucus and relieve congestion by stopping neutrophils, a type of white blood cells, from accumulating and causing inflammation, which in turn causes the body to produce increased mucus. Drinking a hot cup of ginger tea because ginger aids in blocking the production of substances that cause bronchial congestion.

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Spices for Stuffiness

According to the Om Aha Mani Foundation, certain spices have mucus-clearing actions and help making breathing easier. These include chili pepper, black pepper, thyme and curry spices. Spiking hot broth, chicken soup or any other foods with red pepper flakes, hot sauce or wasabi, a condiment made from horseradish, will increase decongestant effects and bring relief. Fresh horseradish and ginger root also have powerful decongestant effects when grated and eaten in small amounts. According to "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies," the juice of a freshly grated and pulped horseradish combined with the juice of 2 to 3 lemons can be taken in half teaspoons between meals to clear mucus from the sinus.

Treating Without Eating

Some food items may be used for their decongestant effects without actually ingesting them orally. For example, when a tablespoon of mustard powder is mixed with a quart of hot water for a mustard footbath, the mustard draws blood to the feet thereby relieving congestion in the nose. Also, mustard plaster, made from ground-up mustard seeds mixed with flour to form a paste, unclogs sinuses and improves circulation when slathered on the chest. However, the plaster causes the skin to burn, so it should not be left on more than 15 minutes. "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies" suggests infusing fresh or dried peppermint with boiled water and then inhaling the steam for an aromatic decongestant effect.

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