Capsaicin is an active chemical that is responsible for giving spiciness and pungency to the different types of chilli peppers across the globe. But, even if capsaicin could set your mouth on fire, it can actually provide cool health benefits and therapeutic effects for your different health concerns.
Hot peppers are rich sources of vitamins and nutrients which also include capsaicin that contains therapeutic properties. Chillies actually contain higher levels of ascorbic acid compared to oranges. Studies show that capsaicin can ease arthritis pain by just rubbing it on the affected part in order to give you relief.
Capsaicin products are available on the market which can be in the form of patches, creams and supplements depending on your needs. If you want to get capsaicin in a natural way, you can consume chilli peppers which you can use for cooking different kinds of recipes.
Read and know how fiery capsaicin is, in helping you achieve good health and solve various health concerns.
History and Origin
It was believed that sweet and chilli peppers (Capsicum annuum) date back since 7,000 B.C. in Mexico and were cultivated from 3,500 B.C. It was native to Central and South America whose cuisines are known for their hot and spicy flavours.
Chillies were brought to the rest of the world by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who discovered America in 1492 and brought the spice to Europe. On the other hand, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan introduced chillies into Asia and Africa.
Sweet and chilli peppers for medicinal use has been used thousands of years ago. Ancient people are already using chilli not only for cooking but also for treating different ailments, thousands of years ago.
American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville developed the "Scoville Organoleptic Test" in the year 1912 to measure the level of heat or spiciness in various chilli peppers. He formulated the test while he was working at the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company.
Sources of Capsaicin
The hotness of chilli peppers depends on the capsaicin content of it. That’s why sweet peppers or bell peppers rank 0 in the Scoville test because they have no spiciness, therefore they do not contain capsaicin at all. Pure capsaicin has a Scoville scale of 16 million heat units.
Capsaicin is purely found in sweet and chilli peppers, but the capsaicin level for each pepper varies, depending on the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) scale or the heat and spiciness level that peppers are being measured.
Scoville Heat Units is also based on the content of capsaicinoids where capsaicin is the main component. Carolina Reaper has an average heat of 1.5 million Scoville units making it the hottest pepper in the world according to the Guinness World Records.
Carolina Reaper is a cross of red habanero and the Ghost pepper. For comparison how exceptionally hot Carolina reaper is, the jalapeno peppers have a Scoville rating of 2,500 to 8,000.
Capsaicin's Nutritional Value
Chilli pepper contains essential vitamins and minerals. Here are the necessary nutrients that you can find in sweet and chilli peppers:
Copper is an essential trace mineral that is necessary for the body. It is present in all body tissues and plays an important role in the production of red blood cells which helps boost the immune system and healthy nerves.
Potassium is an essential mineral that can help with your metabolism, bone and muscle health as well as reducing high blood pressure which can reduce the risk of heart and kidney disorders.
Vitamin A is an important vitamin for your skin, eye health, boosting your immune system. It also supports bone health, growth and development. It works an antioxidant that can help restore damaged cells.
Vitamin B6 or also called pyridoxine can improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also promote brain health which helps prevent early signs of ageing such as having dementia.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an important vitamin and a strong antioxidant that we need on a daily basis since it is essential for boosting our immune system and promoting optimal health reducing the risk of infections.
Vitamin K is an important nutrient that plays a vital role in blood clotting, bone and heart health. It also helps speed wound healing. Also, Vitamin K deficiency can also result in having heart diseases such as atherosclerosis.
1. Reduces Arthritis Pain.Has analgesic properties that reduce pain and provide relief especially if you have any form of arthritis. Use capsaicin cream and apply it on the affected area to block pain messages to your nerves.
2. Promotes Metabolism. Studies show that consuming spicy dishes may help promote and increase healthy metabolism and also supports in weight loss management as it can burn calories and reduce fat tissue.
3. Boosts Immunity. Capsaicin contains high antioxidant levels and vitamin C which that can boost your immune system and fight symptoms of flu, colds as well as reducing your chances of having fungal infections and viruses.
4. Aids Digestion. For healthy digestion, capsaicin can help prevent gastric ulcers and other digestive problem such as indigestion and diarrhoea, just remember that capsaicin overdose can also lead to adverse effects like nausea.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure. Studies show that capsaicin can effectively lower your blood pressure levels and promote blood circulation which could help reduce the risk of having cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and stroke.
6. Treats Headaches.Intranasal capsaicin may help treat migraine by desensitizing the largest cranial nerve which is the trigeminal nerve that plays a significant role in pain perception during a migraine attack.
7. Skin Health. Chilli peppers can improve your skin health by promoting proper blood circulation throughout your body that helps essential nutrients such as vitamin C and E get to your skin cells allowing flawless and healthy skin.
8. Reduces Glucose Levels.Capsaicin can reduce your blood glucose by increasing your insulin levels and supporting your insulin sensitivity. It can balance your blood sugar, therefore reducing your risk of having type 2 diabetes.
9. Diabetic Neuropathy.Proven to be effective in treating diabetic neuropathy and promote relief. Capsaicin contains neurotoxic effects that can ease the pain that the nerves produce when you have diabetic neuropathy.
10. Heart Health.Capsaicin can effectively reduce your blood pressure, bad cholesterol and prevents the clogging of arteries, it can make your heart healthy and prevent you from having heart disease.
Dosage and Duration
Children. Children are not advised to take capsaicin supplements for this may cause serious side effects. Children greater than or equal to 2 years can also use topical capsaicin. Just consult a healthcare provider for medical advice.
Adult. Capsaicin can be in the form of capsules and capsaicin creams. Topical capsaicin can be applied on the affected area if you have arthritis which can help eliminate the pain by getting on the nerves.
For topical use, apply to the affected area at least 3 to 4 times a day to ease the pain from different inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis and various types of arthritis. Wash hands immediately after application. Also, discontinue use if severe burning or itching occurs. If symptoms persist, contact your healthcare professional.
Precautions and Interactions
Remember that natural substances are not always safe and require proper usage, that is why it is important to always read the label and follow directions. Also, before taking any kinds of medicines, consult your healthcare provider to avoid overdose and adverse side effects.
Children and Pregnant Women.Kept out of reach of children for it may cause serious side effects when not properly administered. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should consult your healthcare professional before taking capsaicin supplements or using topical capsaicin.
Allergic Reactions. Some people are allergic to hot chilli peppers, so it is not advisable for them to use or take capsaicin for this may cause allergic reactions such as rashes, chest pain and difficulty in breathing.
Overdose.Seek medical advice from health professionals to avoid the overdose of capsaicin or too much hot pepper can give serious side effects such as stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Anticoagulants. Avoid using capsaicin if you are taking anticoagulants or blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, apixaban, edoxaban that are usually used to prevent blood clots. Capsaicin can interact with these kinds of medications and may increase the risk of bleeding.