Slim And Healthy With Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the hot substance from chilies and cayenne pepper. The spiciness not only tastes fine, but it is also healthy. For several years, science has been tracking the health benefits of the antioxidant-pungent substance. Among other things, capsaicin fights cancer, thins the blood, and lowers blood sugar.

Capsaicin in Cayenne

Capsaicin – the plant substance that gives chili peppers their heat – really heats up the body. And in a positive way. Capsaicin is so healthy that you can add chili and cayenne peppers more often—especially if you have a specific goal in mind.

Perhaps you would like to improve the flow properties of your blood – and thus prevent cardiovascular diseases? Or would you be happy if your blood sugar levels weren’t so high? Maybe you just want to lose some weight? And also reduce your risk of cancer?

Capsaicin – pungent antioxidant

The hot chili substance called capsaicin has an anti-inflammatory, metabolism-stimulating, and antioxidant effect, among other things. The latter means that capsaicin neutralizes free radicals and thus protects the body from pollutants. The higher the capsaicin content in the chili pepper, the hotter it is, and the greater its antioxidant potential.

Chilies are so hot: the Scoville scale

So that you know which type of chili is how hot, there is the so-called Scoville scale. It is named after its inventor, pharmacologist Wilbur L. Scoville. The Scoville scale indicates the degree of spiciness of peppers and chilies using the so-called Scoville Heat Units (SHU, “Scoville Hotness Units”).

The higher the SHU value, the more capsaicin the corresponding pepper contains, and the more tested you should be if you want to eat it. Sweet peppers range from zero to ten SHU.

Chili peppers are classified in significantly higher spheres. Cayenne pepper, for example, is up to 50,000 SHU and anyone who tips a throat cutter (chili schnapps) is expecting his intestines to handle 800,000 SHU.

Sharpness makes you happy

If a person repeatedly eats chili, the pain receptors on the tongue are stimulated each time. But the pain receptors get used to it, so they become less sensitive to the sensation of pain from chili to chili. Real chili lovers, who prefer to eat chili every day, can confirm this phenomenon.

It is even assumed that the initially painful stimulus triggers a pleasant feeling after the habituation phase since the consumption of chili is supposed to stimulate the release of endorphins – which are often referred to as happiness hormones. So, spicy food might make you happy, or at least cheer you up a bit.

Capsaicin instead of Viagra

Since the spiciness of capsaicin gives a hot body feeling and stimulates blood circulation (also in the sexual organs, of course), cayenne was already considered by the Aztecs to strengthen potency and libido.

Italian researchers from the Department of Urology at the University of Ferrara wanted to know more and therefore examined the effects of capsaicin on the human ability to love as early as 1994.

Four groups of five men each were formed from 20 impotent test persons. The test subjects received either a capsaicin infusion or a saline solution – directly to the site of the event, namely the urethra. While everything remained calm and relaxed in the salt group, there was a great deal of excitement in the capsaicin group, as the capsaicin immediately led to an erection.

Of course, it makes a difference whether you have capsaicin administered into the urethra or whether you just eat chili or swallow one or the other capsaicin capsules. Because when taken orally, not quite as much capsaicin gets to the desired place, which is why the effect is not quite as dramatic.

However, not everyone fights total impotence. And so much lower doses of capsaicin may be enough if you just want to shake off the tiredness of a long day and end the evening with passion and fire.

Lose weight with capsaicin

Cayenne pepper and chili peppers not only make you feel hot, they actually raise your body temperature, at least temporarily. The capsaicin heats up the metabolism and energy consumption increases. It is even suspected that capsaicin promotes fat burning.

In a study with slightly overweight people, researchers at Maastricht University confirmed the suspicion that capsaicin can help keep fat burning going during and after a diet. The test subjects in this study had taken only 135 mg of capsaicin per day.

Capsaicin not only increases energy consumption and fat burning but also suppresses appetite. In another study, the Maastricht scientists found that the declining appetite (after eating chili) together with the automatically lower calorie intake that follows is not imaginary.

So if you don’t want to lose the weight you’ve worked hard to lose, it’s a good idea to include chili and cayenne pepper in your diet more often or to think about taking capsaicin capsules – of course always together with a healthy and needs-based diet.

Capsaicin for a healthy intestinal flora

Capsaicin also promotes health through a positive influence on intestinal flora. Animal studies have shown that capsaicin, on the one hand, increases the number of intestinal bacteria and on the other hand, inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria are bacteria that can cause disease.

Exactly how capsaicin does this is not fully understood. But since a diseased gut is at the root of many diseases, these results suggest that capsaicin may play a role in preventing some diseases.

Capsaicin for healthy blood sugar levels

A 2010 South Korean mouse study showed that capsaicin may be helpful in regulating blood sugar levels.

Due to their obesity, the mice suffered from all the symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, e.g. insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and fatty liver. The levels of inflammatory messengers were also significantly increased.

The mice were then given capsaicin. The consequences were astounding: the previously elevated fasting blood sugar level fell again, as did the insulin level, the cells’ glucose tolerance improved and the inflammatory messengers decreased. At the same time, liver values ​​recovered and fat burning increased.

Capsaicin protects your liver

The positive effect of capsaicin on liver values ​​was also confirmed at the International Liver Congress 2015 in Vienna.

Scientists there reported that capsaicin can protect the liver from toxic substances. Because in the presence of capsaicin, liver damage in mice caused by liver-toxic substances could be kept to a minimum.

The spread of liver fibrosis (the progressive scarring of liver tissue), which often turns into liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, could also be stopped in an experiment with capsaicin in mice.

Capsaicin – a healthy affair of the heart

Capsaicin is also a remarkable messenger of health in matters of the heart. This is already shown by the above-mentioned positive effects in the case of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Animal studies also showed that capsaicin is u. a. has a positive effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The so-called “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can accumulate in the blood vessels and – if other factors are involved – can lead to arteriosclerosis, heart attack, or stroke is reduced, while the “good” HDL cholesterol is not affected.

Observational studies also suggest a link between the consumption of capsaicin-containing foods and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because regular chili consumption reduces the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke. This was also shown by an Italian study from 2019.

Capsaicin as a blood thinner

Capsaicin can also help after a heart attack or stroke. Because the conventional medical solutions for thinning the blood are not satisfactory. Sometimes it’s just “just” aspirin, which the patient should swallow every day from now on. In many other cases, coumarin derivatives (phenprocoumon, e.g. Marcumar) are also prescribed.

However, these have a negative effect on bone health. Aspirin, on the other hand, is known to irritate the gastric mucosa, so gastrointestinal complaints can be the result of regular aspirin intake.

Capsaicin offers a naturopathic alternative or concomitant therapy that could at least result in a lower drug dose.

As early as 1985, Taiwanese scientists investigated the antithrombotic (“blood-thinning”) properties of capsaicin in mice. In their study, they compared the blood-thinning effect of capsaicin with that of aspirin or indomethacin (an anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to treat arthritis).

In this study, capsaicin prevented death at a dose of 25 mg/kg body weight, while the mice in the control group died of pulmonary embolism. Neither aspirin nor indomethacin achieved comparable results, even at doses of 200 mg/kg body weight.

The researchers also found that while capsaicin appears to be able to prevent thrombosis, it does not have a negative effect on blood clotting. So if you cut your finger, the body can still stop the bleeding quickly despite capsaicin. Under the influence of the usual blood thinners, wounds usually bleed profusely, which is why they always have to be stopped several days before an operation or dental treatment.

Capsaicin against cancer

Capsaicin is also an interesting substance when it comes to cancer. The cancer-fighting effect of capsaicin appears to be one of the best-studied properties of the pungent substance. Cell culture and animal studies suggest that capsaicin may help with breast cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, and bladder cancer, among others:

Capsaicin against prostate cancer

The data on prostate cancer is particularly extensive, so we have dedicated a separate article to the topic of capsaicin against prostate cancer under the previous link. He presents the results of a scientific study in mice, which showed that prostate cancer tumors had shrunk to a fifth of their original size when exposed to capsaicin.

Capsaicin against bronchial carcinoma

In a Hong Kong study from 2010, capsaicin even proved to be helpful in the therapy of small-cell bronchial carcinoma, which is very difficult to treat. This usually progresses very quickly, which means that the survival rates are extremely low. For this reason, people are feverishly searching for new treatment options.

According to the scientists, capsaicin is said to have a clearly growth-inhibiting effect on small-cell bronchial carcinoma (at least in mice) and could therefore possibly also be integrated into the therapy of this type of cancer in humans in the future.

Capsaicin against pancreatic cancer

A no less malignant form of cancer is pancreatic carcinoma ( Pancreatic cancer). Capsaicin could also be part of a holistic therapy concept here.

In December 2008, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine published a cell and mouse study on the mechanism of action of capsaicin in pancreatic cancer. What is particularly noteworthy about this study is that capsaicin could restart the suicide program (apoptosis) of cancer cells, i.e. initiate their death.

Capsaicin against breast cancer

A very similar study – but on breast cancer – came to almost identical results in 2011. In their laboratory study of human breast cancer cells, the Taiwanese researchers explained how specifically capsaicin can induce the death of breast cancer cells.

If breast cancer suddenly no longer responds to chemotherapy or radiation, this is often a sign of a caspase-3 that is no longer functioning. Caspase-3 is an enzyme that recognizes when a cell is very sick, very old, or even damaged beyond repair. In such a case, caspase-3 organizes the death of this cell.

If caspase-3 remains inactive, the cells no longer die – no matter how sick or how damaged they are. Caspase-3 is no longer active in cancer cells. They can therefore continue to multiply and eventually form tumors and metastases.

Capsaicin breaks this cycle. It also prevents cell growth in cells that no longer have caspase-3 and triggers their suicide program.

Capsaicin in cancer therapy

There are several ways capsaicin could be incorporated into cancer therapy, for example as a complement to chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Unfortunately, the required dose is not known, as clinical studies are still missing. However, there is nothing wrong with including chilies or capsaicin capsules in therapy or diet after consultation with the doctor.

Capsaicin – as chili, as cayenne pepper, or in capsule form

After all these fascinating findings, it becomes clear how valuable and helpful capsaicin can be and how useful it could be to integrate the substance into therapies for many diseases.

Of course, it would be ideal not to get sick in the first place and to enjoy chili and cayenne as a preventive measure. Of course, if you like spicy food, you don’t have a problem with that and simply include chilies or cayenne pepper in your diet.

However, spicy foods are not for everyone. And even if you do, you rarely eat a fiery meal several times a week and you certainly don’t eat so much chili that a high capsaicin content could be ingested – because the hotness increases with the capsaicin content. Capsaicin or cayenne pepper is available as a dietary supplement in capsule form for this purpose.

With capsules of effective nature, you take 1 capsule twice a day, avoiding the unpleasant burning sensation in the mouth and throat area for many people and still enjoying the described effects of capsaicin. However, burning can also occur in the gastrointestinal tract. We therefore only recommend the pungent substance to people who like to eat spicy food and who also tolerate the capsaicin well.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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