Capsaicin from Chili Peppers

Monday, 24 February 2014


There is a substance known as capsaicin which can be found mainly in chili peppers. It gives chili peppers the characteristic pungent flavor producing mild to intense spice when eaten. Many benefits of capsaicin had been reported in obesity, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, cancers and dermatological. 



People can buy over the counter drugs that contain capsaicin for relieving pain. For pain relief, each dermal patch has synthetic capsaicin and it had been approved by Food Drug Administration (FDA). In one study, 8% of capsaicin in patch is safe and effective in controlling neuropathic pain and reduce pain attacks as well as improve sleep duration. In Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, capsaicin had shown its ability to produce substantial pain reduction in patients with oral mucositis pain from cancer therapy. However, the pain relief was only temporary.

Capsaicin is said to support weight loss. It helps to speed up metabolism and reduce fat tissue. In Journal of Clinical Nutrition, capsaicin may ease our appetite. The combination of capsaicin and green tea may make us to feel less hungry and it can lead us to take less calories. Capsaicin also helps to decrease level of a hormone known as ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that promotes hunger. Its levels increase before meals and decrease after meals. However, consuming food containing capsaicin like chili peppers may reduce ghrelin levels.

Capsaicin was reported to inhibit cancer cell growth. In Oncology study, capsaicin caused 80% of prostate cancer cells death in mice and caused the tumor to shrink about one over five of untreated tumors. According to American Cancer Society, capsaicin has ability to slow the growth of prostate cancers in laboratory studies, not in human. Thus, consuming capsaicin food is not a promising to reduce or treat prostate cancer in human. In other study, capsaicin had been shown to inhibit breast cancer cell growth by inducing cell apoptosis and cell arrest in S phase. The study suggested the application of capsaicin in clinical therapy could be useful for breast cancer patients.

Capsaicin in chili peppers can give benefits to human hearts. It lowers cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol accumulation plus enhances cholesterol breakdown and excretion in feces. Capsaicin also allows more blood to flow through blood vessels to the hearts and other organs. Therefore, hearts and other organs can get sufficient nutrients and oxygen to be well functioning.



References:
Alternative Medicine, About.com (2012)
American Cancer Society (2012)
European Journal of Pharmacology (2013)
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (1995)

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