chili-capsaicinWhat is Capsaicin?

Capsaicin is a vanilloid compound commonly found in Chili peppers, and is the reason for its spicy flavor.

Capsaicin was first isolated by John Clough Thresh. The exact chemical structure of capsaicin was determined by E. K. Nelson in 1919. It was synthesized by Ernst Spath and Stephen F. Darling in 1930. Although those technical advances are recent, chili peppers have been used in one way or another for over 6,000 years.  The medicinal properties of chili peppers have been appreciated by cultures around the world. Native Americans, in particular, were known to rub their gums with chili pepper pods to relieve tooth pain, that much seems credible as a single chili is enough to numb one’s entire tongue. Culinary applications are also common, which is really in the obvious side, but the fact that it’s so wide-spread deserves it to be mentioned. On a side note, chili peppers were also used as a weapon by the Incas against the Spaniards, the irritation brought about by the spice proved to be an excellent distraction, but unfortunately not excellent enough to turn the tides to their favor. In recent years, law enforcement has taken to using capsaicin-based pepper spray, and various security-companies had also undertaken the development of the said spice due to its effectiveness as a non-lethal deterrent.

There have been various researches done to further harness the medicinal properties of this spicy compound. However, here are nine health benefits that would make one consider using the healthy chili a bit more often:

  • In a 1986 study on patients with severe to moderate Psoriasis, a skin-condition that produces flakes of thickened scaling skin, effectively dulling, if not cutting off entirely one’s sense of touch, that topically applied Capsaicin returned sensation the afflicted areas.
  • A 1991 study found that capsaicin may be an effective remedy for arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients who received capsaicin cream for painful knees experienced mean reductions in pain of 57% and 33%, respectively, after 4 weeks.
  • Capsaicin’s properties are effective on atopic dermatitis.
  • Capsaicin helps alleviate chronic back-pain.
  • Capsaicin may relieve chronic soft tissue pain.
  • Capsaicin may play a role in suppressing prostate cancer cells.
  • Oral capsaicin can provide pain relief for oral mucositis, the painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes in patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Capsaicin may help fight obesity by increasing feelings of fullness to reduce calorie and fat intake.
  • Capsaicin may provide relief for neuropathic pain, where the the nerve fibers themselves may be damaged, dysfunctional, or injured.

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