Eating a plate of curries, wasabi peas, or hot wings will inevitably turn your nose into a running stream. According to BrainStuff - HowStuffWorks' latest video, “Why Does Spicy Food Make Your Nose Run?” host Lauren Vogelbaum explains chemicals capsaicin and allyl isothiocyanate irritate the mucous membranes of the nose, causing it to produce more mucus to keep allergens, airborne dust, and other undesirables away from the respiratory tract.

In spicy food, capsaicin and allyl isothuocyanate are responsible for a food's pungency — "spiciness," or heat. Capsaicin, the best-known spicy food irritant, is found in plants from the capsicum genus, like chili peppers, having the most concertation in the placental tissue that holds the seeds. Meanwhile, the other irritant, allyl isothiocyanate, is a colorless oil found in mustard and wasabi that gives these foods a kick. Manufacturers also use it as an ingredient in insecticides and fungicides.

The chemicals causing that “hot” sensation on your tongue act on your pain receptors, not your taste buds. They also tend to irritate the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose, throat, and sinuses — basically your face. The mucus membranes are the linings that protect your lungs and various body openings and cavities from infectious agents such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. The ones in your nose are responsible for making nasal mucus, or what kids call “snot.”

Now, once a spicy chemical inflames the membranes, they produce extra mucus as a defense mechanism. This is your body's way of trying to trap the irritating chemical, and prevent it from reaching the respiratory system.

A runny nose isn't always a bad thing though. When you've got a cold and are congested, the runny nose effect of spicy foods can make us feel a bit better. However, its healing properties are only temporary relief, because capsaicin and allyl isothiocyanate’s irritation can cause the dilator naris muscle in your nose to temporarily allow more air to enter. Receptors in your nose then tell your brain that you’re breathing easier. When the heat wears off, you will go back to your stuffy self.

So remember, eat spicy foods wisely.