Is pepper-based Sinus Spray effective? Dangerous? Risky?
August 15, 2006 10:40 PM   Subscribe

I have chronic sinus infections for which I am now considering surgery after trying most major medical options, as well as a massive allergen removal program. I read about a product called "Sinus Buster" which uses pepper in the form of a nose-drop to clear sinuses. I bought some, and based on just a few days usage, there is a definite improvement. I'm surprised, since the manufacturer also claims that the product can help you lose weight and has even said that it can cure some forms of cancer (multiple miracle claims=sure red flag.) So, my questions: - Does anyone else have any exeperience with this product? - The stuff burns, which I am getting used to - but is it really a good idea to put something that (at least) feels caustic up my nose? Is there a possibility of long-term damage? -Can I become reliant on it for clearing my congestion, as with "traditional" OTC nose drops? Here's the product URL:
posted by soulbarn to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As far as I know capisum causes no real damage but instead fools nerves to report they are experincing heat or pain.

Birds don't have this pathway and have no problem with eating really hot peppers.

Though all of this scientific talk is of no help to a human who ate something with too much cayanne and it burns on the way out.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:54 PM on August 15, 2006

I'm really sorry to hear about your condition, which I experience in a more minor form. I can't advise about Sinus Buster, but will watch this thread with interest. FWIW, I would be even warier of the surgical option -- I have heard more third-hand stories of sinus surgeries backfiring than I can wave a neti pot at.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:56 PM on August 15, 2006

The red flag feeling is totally justified, imo. I'm not even going to click on the link to read further; you knowvery well that any company claiming to have a cure for cancer = scam city.

Try the Rhino neti pot. It's available at Amazon, but I'm too lazy to look up the link. That's a product that I've actually seen work wonders for people with chronic sinus problems and allergies.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:59 PM on August 15, 2006

Response by poster: Just to clarify, I am mistaken - I think - about the cancer cure claim. There seem to be multiple sites using multiple bits of information from the Sinus Buster website; the Sinus Buster folks say that their copy was lifted, and I have no reason to disbelieve them.

Sinus Buster does claim to be effective - and offers different formulas - for:

weight control, headaches, allergies, colds, cigarette cessation, various skin conditions, and fatigue.
posted by soulbarn at 11:17 PM on August 15, 2006

You mentioned allergen removal, but you didn't mention allergy shots.. My friend was in a similar situation as you (her mom had roto-rooter surgery done on her nasal cavities and didn't recommend it). Instead, she tried allergy shots and it worked wonders. Before you go a surgical route, if you haven't already, try the shots.
posted by j at 12:01 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Stop using it now. It gave me a rash on the forehead which left a scar.

It may sound like waffle, but I now believe that bad sinuses are related to trigger points or 'knots' in neck muscles. Try getting the trigger point therapy workbook and massaging the sternocleidomastoid 6 times a day.

Giving up wheat seriously helped as well.
posted by lunkfish at 4:35 AM on August 16, 2006

I tried sinus buster and it had no great effect. It makes your nose run a little but that's it.

One question: Are you considering polyp removal surgery? If you're getting multiple infections and allergy therapy's not working, it's possible that you have, or are developing something, called "Samter's Triad", which generally starts with runny nose, moves into nasal polyps, then causes asthma and ultimately a severe reactivity to aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDS. I have this, and started a yahoo group for other people with the disease a few years ago. More info is here:

Contact me off the site if you want more info.
posted by condour75 at 6:18 AM on August 16, 2006

What does your otolaryngologist say? Have you had scans - what do they show?

I had sinus surgery and polyp removal and it's one of the best things I ever did. That being said, I'm likely pursuing allergy shots because I'm allergic to a lot of things - you might consider the same if it's a contributing factor.
posted by canine epigram at 6:21 AM on August 16, 2006

Not to go too off-topic, but sinus surgery doesn't work for everyone. It did nothing for me: polyps came back, within months, I was in exactly the same situation as before. I manage it now with medication, neti pot, and change of diet.
posted by rottytooth at 6:41 AM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

My wife gets plenty of sinus infections and swears by Neilmed rinses. I hate spraying my nose, but I too have found their rinses very effective in fighting sinus infections.
posted by terrapin at 8:23 AM on August 16, 2006

I had a deviated septum fixed and polyps removed years ago, and it greatly improved my quality of life. For the first time I learned what it was like to breathe freely without panting. I'm still sensitive to allergens and get sniffly when I eat spicy foods, but I don't get all jammed up with sinus infections anymore.

(Stopping my habitual guzzling of milk with every meal went a long way towards unclogging things as well.)

As for Sinusbuster, I have tried a bottle and it only took me a couple of days to get used to the sting. I actually came to enjoy the rush and the slightly mentholated tingliness. I have no concern about its safety; the dramatic but harmless effects of capsacin are well documented. (Defensive pepper spray.)

I'm not big on "homeopathy" in general, but I found that this stuff works just as advertised.

One thing I did notice was that as the Sinusbuster product aged, it seemed to lose the fresh, menthol-y aspect, while the pepper "bite" sayed longer. They do say it has a fairly short shelf life, but it's cheap enough to replace regularly if its useful to you.
posted by Tubes at 8:34 AM on August 16, 2006

My local Costco carries the Neilmed packets in the pharmacy, for anyone thinking of dropping the money. The 100 pack was cheap enough to keep even skinflint me from mixing my own saline for my neti pot.

While multiple miracle claims are surely a reason to doubt ALL claims, you know from experience that this product DOES do one of the things you want it to do. Many worthwhile things have people claiming that they do ALL THAT AND MORE! (Skin so Soft, anyone? Accupuncture?) It doesn't mean they aren't worthwhile for their base purposes.

As far as the weight-loss and health benefit claims there have been many studies and reputable claims about the power of hot foods to stimulate metabolism and the immune system. I won't be replacing my doctor with jalapeƱos anytime soon but it may not be a complete BS claim.

As far as surgical options, I came across this link about balloon therapy while looking for this recent Washington Post column on a writer's septum surgery experience.
posted by phearlez at 9:43 AM on August 16, 2006

When I was in high school, I had my sinuses cauterized as part of a procedure to straighten my nose. For the first time in fifteen years, I could actually smell. It totally screwed with me. Food I used to love, stank and I couldn't eat it. Food that I used to hate, I could eat.

However, after 15 or so years, my chronic sinus infections came back. There were polyps and allergy shots and talk of surgery. However my ear/nose/throat doc suggested I try Flonase for a while. I've never been fond of putting things up my nose, but this seems to help out. I still have the occasional headache when the barometric pressure changes, and I'm still very allergic to my cats. But aside from living in a bubble, this is the best it's gonna be.

I'd try as many options as you can before you opt for the surgery. Because while it does rarely lasts. And the recovery's a bitch.

I'd also second Tubes suggestion of laying off the milk/dairy. Eating yogurt or ice cream will give me a headache for days.
posted by teleri025 at 10:04 AM on August 16, 2006

Regarding barometric pressure and headaches -- you too? I thought I was nuts. Which may yet be the case, but at least on other grounds.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:09 PM on August 16, 2006

Never heard of the stuff, but I I can't use a Neti pot because I get nosebleeds fairly easy (have my whole life) and spraying stuff up my nose has never really helped. The Neti Pot websites I've seen said to not use one if you get nosebleeds.
I've had more sinus headaches this year than I remember having in years past, though. Maybe your situation is somewhat related to the weather?
posted by drstein at 12:14 PM on August 16, 2006

I know this doesn't address the specific question of pepper-based sinus spray, but I can add another vote for using a neti pot. I use it once a day generally and have seen my chronic sinus issues reduce greatly. When I do have a bit of flare-up, I use it twice a day and seem to be better in a day or two...WITHOUT antibiotics.

Also I know of a couple folks who tried the polyp surgery and had the same sinus issues within a couple years.
posted by MrToad at 1:00 PM on August 16, 2006

Regular irrigation, avoidance of allergens, and use of supplementary decongestants are the only proven ways to deal non-surgically with chronic sinusitis.

Take it from someone who had a terrible problem. FESS surgery, while painful, was the a godsend to me. I have not had a single sinus infection in ten years since my surgery.

The results from the pepper spray are a coincidence or a placebo effect. To the extent there is any actual, topical benefit, you can get the same results (and good ones, sometimes) from eating very hot foods. However, the effect will always be temporary.

Anything else anyone tells you is bunk.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:29 PM on August 16, 2006

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