We all have a pretty good idea about what pepper spray is -- the self-defense weapon that is carried by police and can be found at most sporting goods stores. And, what it does -- remember that video of the UC Davis police department pepper spraying the Occupy Wall Street protestors who were staging a sit-in on campus property -- resulting in stinging and burning of the eyes, nose, skin and lungs. Now, imagine actually squirting pepper spray, in a diluted form, in your nose in an attempt to reduce the symptoms of nasal allergies. Sounds crazy, right? Well, capsaicin nasal sprays are available over-the-counter for the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms, and they work pretty well. Capsaicin, the substance found in hot peppers that is responsible for the burning and stinging sensation that people get in their mouths when they eat the peppers, is very effective as a long-term reliever of pain. Creams containing capsaicin have been used for years for rubbing on arthritic joints as well as on painful skin that shingles leaves behind. Nasal sprays containing capsaicin seem to be effective at treating nasal congestion and sinus pressure related to non-allergic rhinitis, and may also be effective for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Other than a mild stinging sensation that occurs only with the first few times the nasal spray is used, side effects are minimal. And, if the nasal spray doesn't help your nasal symptoms, you can always use it as a reasonable replacement for a bottle of Tabasco Sauce.
Capsaicin is the substance found in hot red and chili peppers responsible for the burning sensation that occurs when eating these foods. When capsaicin comes into contact with mucous membranes and skin, the body's pain sensors are stimulated, which leads to the classic symptoms of burning, stinging, and a sensation of heat. Capsaicin has a wide variety of uses, including as a spice, an herbal supplement, a self-defense weapon (pepper spray), as well as a topical pain medication. Capsaicin has also been used as a nasal spray to treat the effects of non-allergic rhinitis.
In recent years, complementary-alternative medicine (CAM) has become very popular, with approximately half of the population either currently using or having used CAM on at least one occasion. The most common forms of CAM include acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, herbal medicines and yoga. This increased use of CAM seems to be based on distrust of conventional and scientific-based medicine, bad experiences with physicians, and/or belief that CAM is safe, natural and without side effects.
Non-allergic rhinitis is a medical condition of unknown cause, leading to symptoms very similar to allergic rhinitis, or hay-fever. Approximately half of people suffering from allergies also have a non-allergic component to their symptoms. Unlike allergies, which can be a seasonal problem, symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis are typically year-round. Non-allergic rhinitis also tends to be more common as people age, whereas allergic rhinitis tends to affect children and young adults.