Capsaicin, a chemical compound found in peppers, has many properties for treating various ailments, according to a new study conducted by Canadian researchers.
It burns and causes hot flashes, but “pleasantly painful,” according to the researchers. A new study on hot peppers has just been released, published by scientists at the University of Montreal. It has many therapeutic virtues thanks to its active ingredient: capsaicin. “Capsaicin, found on the inner wall of peppers, is the chemical compound that causes the burning sensation in the mouth when ingested,” the researchers explain.
“Fight fire with fire”
According to her research, capsaicin, applied as a topical cream, may help relieve arthritic pain but also relieve the burning sensation caused by post-herpetic neuralgia, the most common complication of shingles. “It may indeed seem paradoxical. In a way, we fight fire with fire,” explains Réjean Couture, professor at the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Montreal and specialist in pain receptors. In fact, burning, inflammation and redness can be felt during use.
On the other hand, capsaicin is also effective in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “If the molecule is not powerful enough to replace existing antibiotics, its ability to reduce the amount of the latter during the treatment of bacterial infections would help reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance,” the study specifies. In other words, peppers reduce the body’s resistance to antibiotics.
Antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties
Valérie Marcil, professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Montreal, says that the molecule acts directly on cells:
“First, capsaicin could affect the life cycle of cancer cells by promoting apoptosis, programmed cell death. This mechanism often no longer functions normally in cancer cells. They survive and multiply, so they should actually be destroyed by apoptosis. But capsaicin “would have the virtue of taking part in the destruction of some of them”.
In addition, capsaicin has “anti-obesity properties, such as increasing energy expenditure and feeling full”.
Of course, the researchers warn that the benefits of peppers are not a substitute for treatment or medical follow-up: “It’s the same with any nutrient,” she adds. We don’t eat nutrients every day, we eat food. Also, food is not medicine. Their power needs to be put into perspective as their actual impact is often the result of a combination of factors.”
In addition, more detailed research needs to be done to better understand the mechanism of action of capsaicin.