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Enciclopedia de Salud

Nutritional Supplement

Chili Peppers

Parts Used & Where Grown

Originally from South America, chili peppers are now used worldwide as a food and spice. Chili peppers include cayenne, jalapeños, habanero, and other peppers characterized by their capsaicin content. The fruit is used medicinally.

How It Works

Chili peppers contain a resinous and pungent substance known as capsaicin. Topical application of capsaicin relieves pain and itching by acting on sensory nerves.1 Capsaicin temporarily depletes “substance P”, a chemical in nerves that transmits pain sensations. Without substance P, pain signals can no longer be sent. The effect is temporary. Numerous double-blind trials have proven topically applied capsaicin creams are helpful for a range of conditions, including nerve pain in diabetes (diabetic neuropathy),2,3 post-surgical pain,4,5,6psoriasis,7 muscle pain due to fibromyalgia,8 nerve pain after shingles (postherpetic neuralgia),9,10osteoarthritis pain,11,12 and rheumatoid arthritis pain.12

With the aid of a healthcare professional, capsaicin administered via the nose may also be a potentially useful therapy for cluster headaches. This is supported by a double-blind trial.14 Weaker scientific support exists for the use of capsaicin for migraines.15

Injecting capsaicin directly into the urinary bladder has reduced symptoms of one type of bladder dysfunction (neurogenic hyperreflexic bladder)16 that results from spinal cord and other nerve injuries. Capsaicin is not known to help other bladder conditions, such as chronic bladder pain. The placing of cayenne or capsaicin products into the bladder has only been performed in clinical experiments and should only be done by a urologist.

Modest reductions in appetite have been found in healthy Japanese women and white men when they consumed 10 grams of cayenne pepper along with meals in a double-blind trial.17 A similar trial found that cayenne could increase metabolism of dietary fats in Japanese women.18 These trials suggest cayenne may help in the treatment of obesity.

In a double-blind study of people with dyspepsia (heartburn), supplementation with 833 mg of cayenne powder in capsules, three times per day before meals, reduced heartburn symptoms by 48%, compared with a placebo. However, two of 15 individuals receiving cayenne discontinued it because of abdominal pain.19

References

1. Lynn B. Capsaicin. Actions on nociceptive C-fibers and therapeutic potential. Pain 1990;41:61-9.

2. [No authors listed.] Treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy with topical capsaicin. A multicenter, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study. The Capsaicin Study Group. Arch Intern Med 1991;151:2225-9.

3. [No authors listed.] Effect of treatment with capsaicin on daily activities of patients with painful diabetic neuropathy. Capsaicin Study Group. Diabetes Care 1992;15:159-65.

4. Ellison N, Loprinzi CL, Kugler J, et al. Phase III placebo-controlled trial of capsaicin cream in the management of surgical neuropathic pain in cancer patients. J Clin Oncol 1997;15:2974-80.

5. Watson CPN, Evans RJ, Watt VR. The postmastectomy pain syndrome and the effect of topical capsaicin. Pain 1989;38:177-86.

6. Watson CPN, Evans RJ. The postmastectomy pain syndrome and topical capsaicin: a randomized trial. Pain 1992;51:375-9.

7. Bernstein JE, Parish LC, Rapaport M, et al. Effects of topically applied capsaicin on moderate and severe psoriasis vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol 1986;15:504-7.

8. McCarty DJ, Csuka M, McCarthy G, et al. Treatment of pain due to fibromyalgia with topical capsaicin: A pilot study. Semin Arth Rhem 1994;23:41-7.

9. Watson CP, Tyler KL, Bickers DR, et al. A randomized vehicle-controlled trial of topical capsaicin in the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia. Clin Ther 1993;15:510-26.

10. Watson CP, Evans RJ, Watt VR. Postherpetic neuralgia and topical capsaicin. Pain 1988;33:333-40.

11. McCarthy GM, McCarty DJ. Effect of topical capsaicin in the therapy of painful osteoarthritis of the hands. J Rheumatol 1992;19:604-7.

12. Deal CL, Schnitzer TJ, Lipstein E, et al. Treatment of arthritis with topical capsaicin: A double-blind trial. Clin Ther 1991;13:383-95.

13. Marks DR, Papoport A, Padla D, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of intranasal capsaicin for cluster headache. Cephalalgia 1993;13:114-6.

14. Levy RL. Intranasal capsaicin for acute abortive treatment of migraine without aura. Headache 1995;35:277 [letter].

15. de Seze M, Wiart L, Ferrier JM, et al. Intravesical instillation of capsaicin in urology: A review of the literature. Eur Urol 1999;36:267-77 [review].

16. Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Drapeau V, et al. Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake. Br J Nutr 1999;82:115-23.

17. Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Suzuki M, Tremblay A. Effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women. Br J Nutr 1998;80:503-10.

18. Bortolotti M, Coccia G, Grossi G. Red pepper and functional dyspepsia. N Engl J Med 2002;346:947-8 [letter].

19. Santos AR, Calixto JB. Ruthenium red and capsazepine antinociceptive effect in formalin and capsaicin models of pain in mice. Neurosci Lett. 1997;235:73-6.

20. Otsuki T, Nakahama H, Niizuma H, Suzuki J. Evaluation of the analgesic effects of capsaicin using a new rat model for tonic pain. Brain Res 1986;365:235-40.

21. Nolano M, Simone DA, Wendelschafer-Crabb G, et al. Topical capsaicin in humans: parallel loss of epidermal nerve fibers and pain sensation. Pain 1999;81:135-45.

22. Kingery WS. A critical review of controlled clinical trials for peripheral neuropathic pain and complex regional pain syndromes. Pain 1997;73:123-39 [review].

23. Hautkappe M, Roizen MF, Toledano A, et al. Review of the effectiveness of capsaicin for painful cutaneous disorders and neural dysfunction. Clin J Pain 1998;14:97-106 [review].

24. Fusco BM, Giacovazzo M. Peppers and pain. The promise of capsaicin. Drugs 1997;53:909–14 [review].

25. Robbins WR, Staats PS, Levine J, et al. Treatment of intractable pain with topical large-dose capsaicin: preliminary report. Anesth Analg 1998;86:579-83.

26. Zhang WY, Li Wan Po A. The effectiveness of topically applied capsaicin. A meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1994;46:517-22 [review].

27. Ellison N, Loprinzi CL, Kugler J, et al. Phase III placebo-controlled trial of capsaicin cream in the management of surgical neuropathic pain in cancer patients. J Clin Oncol 1997;15:2974-80.

28. Rains C, Bryson HM. Topical capsaicin. A review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic potential in post-herpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy and osteoarthritis. Drugs Aging 1995;7:317-28 [review].

29. Sicuteri F, Renzi D, Geppetti P. Substance P and enkephalins: a creditable tandem in the pathophysiology of cluster headache and migraine. Adv Exp Med Biol 1986;198B:145-52.

30. Sicuteri F, Fanciullacci M, Nicolodi M, et al. Substance P theory: a unique focus on the painful and painless phenomena of cluster headache. Headache 1990;30:69-79 [review].

31. Lynn B. Capsaicin. Actions on nociceptive C-fibers and therapeutic potential. Pain 1990;41:61-9.

32. Sicuteri F, Fusco BM, Marabini S, et al. Beneficial effect of capsaicin application to the nasal mucosa in cluster headache. Clin J Pain 1989;5:49-53.

33. Fusco BM, Marabini S, Maggi C, et al. Preventative effect of repeated nasal applications of capsaicin in cluster headache. Pain 1994;59:321-5.

34. Fusco BM, Fiore G, Gallo F, et al. “Capsaicin-sensitive” sensory neurons in cluster headache: pathophysiological aspects and therapeutic indication. Headache 1994;34:132-7.

35. Marks DR, Papoport A, Padla D, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of intranasal capsaicin for cluster headache. Cephalalgia 1993;13:114-6.

36. Fusco BM, Giacovazzo M. Peppers and pain. The promise of capsaicin. Drugs 1997;53:909–14 [review].

37. Schnitzer TJ. Non-NSAID pharmacologic treatment options for the management of chronic pain. Am J Med 1998;105:45S-52S [review].

38. Siften DW (ed). Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 790-1.

39. Rumsfield JA, West DP. Topical capsaicin in dermatologic and peripheral pain disorders. DICP 1991;25:381-7 [review].

40. Levy RL. Intranasal capsaicin for acute abortive treatment of migraine without aura. Headache 1995;35:277 [letter].

41. McCarthy GM, McCarty DJ. Effect of topical capsaicin in the therapy of painful osteoarthritis of the hands. J Rheumatol 1992;19:604-7.

42. Altman RD, Aven A, Holmburg CE, et al. Capsaicin cream 0.025% as monotherapy for osteoarthritis: a double-blind study. Sem Arth Rheum 1994;23(Suppl 3):25-33.

43. Deal CL, Schnitzer TJ, Lipstein E, et al. Treatment of arthritis with topical capsaicin: A double-blind trial. Clin Ther 1991;13:383-95.

44. Schnitzer T, Morton C, Coker S. Topical capsaicin therapy for osteoarthritis pain: achieving a maintenance regimen. Sem Arth Rheum 1994;23(Suppl 3):34-40.

45. Deal CL. The use of topical capsaicin in managing arthritis pain: a clinician's perspective. Sem Arth Rheum 1994;23(Suppl 3):48-52.

46. Deal CL, Schnitzer TJ, Lipstein E, et al. Treatment of arthritis with topical capsaicin: A double-blind trial. Clin Ther 1991;13:383-95.

47. Fusco BM, Giacovazzo M. Peppers and pain. The promise of capsaicin. Drugs 1997;53:909–14 [review].

48. Schnitzer TJ. Non-NSAID pharmacologic treatment options for the management of chronic pain. Am J Med 1998;105:45S-52S [review].

49. Siften DW (ed). Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 790-1.

50. Rumsfield JA, West DP. Topical capsaicin in dermatologic and peripheral pain disorders. DICP 1991;25:381-7 [review].

51. Ellis CN, Berberian B, Sulica VI, et al. A double-blind evaluation of topical capsaicin in pruritic psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1993;29:438-42.

52. Lysy J, Sistiery-Ittah M, Israelit Y, et al. Topical capsaicin—a novel and effective treatment for idiopathic intractable pruritus ani: a randomised, placebo controlled, crossover study. Gut 2003;52:1323-6.

53. Sanati S, Razavi BM, Hosseinzadeh H. A review of the effects of Capsicum annuum L. and its constituent, capsaicin, in metabolic syndrome. Iran J Basic Med Sci  2018 May;21(5):439–448.

54. Rigamonti AE, Casnici C, Marelli O, et al. Acute administration of capsaicin increases resting energy expenditure in young obese subjects without affecting energy intake, appetite, and circulating levels of orexigenic/anorexigenic peptides. Nutr Res 2018 04;52:71–79.

55. Snitker S, Fujishima Y, Shen H, et al. Effects of novel capsinoid treatment on fatness and energy metabolism in humans: possible pharmacogenetic implications. Am J Clin Nutr 2009 Jan;89(1):45–50.

56. Inoue N, Matsunaga Y, Satoh H, et al. Enhanced energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans with high BMI scores by the ingestion of novel and non-pungent capsaicin analogues (capsinoids). Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2007 Feb;71(2):380–9.

57. Lejeune MP, Kovacs EM, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. Br J Nutr 2003 Sep;90(3):651–59.

58. Sun L, Camps SG, Goh HJ, et al. Capsinoids activate brown adipose tissue (BAT) with increased energy expenditure associated with subthreshold 18-fluorine fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in BAT-positive humans confirmed by positron emission tomography scan. Am J Clin Nutr 2018 01;107(1):62–70.

59. Fusco BM, Giacovazzo M. Peppers and pain. The promise of capsaicin. Drugs 1997;53:909–14 [review].

60. Keitel W, Frerick H, Kuhn U, et al. Capsicum plaster in chronic non-specific low back pain. Arzneimittelforschung 2001;51:896–903.

61. Siften DW (ed). Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 790-1.

62. Bortolotti M, Coccia G, Grossi G. Red pepper and functional dyspepsia. N Engl J Med 2002;346:947-8 [letter].

63. Siften DW (ed). Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 790-1.

64. Lopez-Carrillo L, Avila M, Dubrow R. Chili pepper consumption and gastric cancer in Mexico: A case-control study. Amer J Epidem 1994;139:263-71.

65. Buiatti E, Palli D, Decarli A, et al. A case-control study of gastric cancer and diet in Italy. Int J Cancer 1989;44:611-6.

66. Surh YJ, Lee SS. Capsaicin in hot chili pepper: Carcinogen, co-carcinogen or anticarcinogen? Food Chem Toxic 1996;34:313-6.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2022.

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La información que se presenta en TraceGains no pretende nada más que informarle al consumidor con resultados interpretados de estudios científicos. A pesar de basarse en la investigación científica (humana, animal, o in vitro), en la experiencia clínica o en la observación de su aplicación en el uso tradicional, la información que se presenta en TraceGains y que se cita en cada artículo no pretende nada más que informarle al público. Además, es posible que no se logren los resultados presentados en todos los individuos. Enfermedades con peligro para la vida requieren tratamiento por prescripción facultativa y no se recomienda que intente curarlas sin que vigile un médico. Con respecto a muchas de las enfermedades discutidas, están disponibles medicamentos con y sin receta médica. Consúltese con su médico y/o farmacéutico para discutir cualquier problema de salud y siempre antes de utilizar cualquier suplemento o efectuar cualquier cambio con respecto a los medicamentos recetados que se toma. Esta información es válida hasta finales de Diciembre del 2022.