According to GoodRx, the spices we add to our food contain capsaicin, an active chemical that produces a burning sensation when it comes into contact with the tongue and taste buds. Regardless of the method of preparation — whether cooked, uncooked, or simply dried — consuming capsaicin-rich foods like chili peppers allows the body to benefit from them.
In an interview with TIME Magazine, Dr. Brett Comer, a surgeon and ear, nose, and throat specialist from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, explained that consuming food at a certain level of spiciness can cause increased production of fluid not just in your eyes, nose, and mouth, but even all the way down to your digestive and excretory systems as well. “When your mouth or throat encounters any foreign object that’s noxious, the thinking is that liquid helps to move that out.” Comer added that at times, the amount of mucus that finds its way into the gastrointestinal tract may be enough to cause stomach issues for some people.
For the same reason, eating spicy food while you have a cold can actually help ease your symptoms. As Rochester Regional Health explains, the capsaicin in your spicy food can both break up mucus in your respiratory system and boost its production. This can help relieve your sore throat and cough, but can also lead to more mucus running down your nose (and you sweating buckets).