Can Eating Horseradish Really Help Clear Your Sinuses?

Horseradish is most often seen as a condiment that is enjoyed smeared on top of ham, sausage, potatoes, vegetables, burgers, fish, and numerous other savory foods that benefit from its punchy kick. It's also a key ingredient in many sauces and dressings, plus peppery cocktails like the Bloody Mary and the Archie Red (via Absolut). A member of the mustard family — along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower — horseradish is a root vegetable that has played an important part of culinary history (per The Spruce Eats).

Horseradish's ultra-potent aroma and strong, spicy flavor have the power to make eyes water and taste buds dance simultaneously. This sensation is caused by the chemical allyl isothiocyanate, which is released when the horseradish root is crushed or eaten, according to Just Enough Heat. But can eating – or merely smelling – horseradish also help open up blocked sinus cavities? Many people swear by sniffing a jar of horseradish when they're feeling congested in the nasal region. So, in addition to seriously amplifying other flavors, does horseradish actually have the power to clear sinuses? The short answer is yes.

Horseradish can help relieve sinus congestion

As it turns out, horseradish has been considered medicinal for centuries, and its beneficial anti-inflammatory properties are advocated by health professionals around the globe (per WebMD). According to the Ear & Sinus Institute, certain foods can come to the rescue for those who experience annoying – and oftentimes painful – sinus infections. Horseradish, for one, can help relieve blockage of the sinus passages by lessening the amount of mucus pressure from the upper respiratory passages. The organization also recommends consuming other antioxidant- and vitamin-rich foods such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, and hot peppers when feeling under the weather. The New York Sinus Center also endorses taking a bite of horseradish when you're suffering from sinusitis. The root vegetable's naturally high sulfur levels help increase facial circulation and promote drainage when you're stuffy.

Of course, if you're battling a severe sinus infection (or any illness, for that matter), it's a good idea to consult your doctor in addition to exploring any at-home remedies. Next time you smother a dollop of horseradish over your ham sandwich, your nose will thank you.