Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Capsaicin is a significant chemical component found in red pepper. It has several health benefits according to the latest research.
A new study published in Nutrients says adding capsaicin (CAP) to your regular diet can make a significant difference in health. The researchers experimented by adding capsaicin to the in vitro cultures of the gut microbiome. They observed an increase in the diversity of microbiota. But how is that a good thing? A lot of previous studies and evidence have supported their observations. Let us understand the details of the study.
Capsaicin (CAP) gives chili peppers their famous heat and pungency. Due to its heat, it is a perfect spice for seasoning culinary dishes. Furthermore, it provides several medicinal properties.
The medicinal properties of CAP are historically used in many parts of the world. From India to China, you can find ancient texts mentioning the importance of CAP in the diet. The texts mention the nutritional values of chili peppers and bell peppers. They say it contains vitamins, and minerals and has several antimicrobial properties.
How Did They Find The Effect of CAP on Gut Microbiota?
CAP can have digestion and anti-inflammatory actions within the body. However, previous studies did not mention the exact mechanism or interaction between CAP and gut microbiota.
Hence, the purpose of this study was to find out what exactly changes in the gut and what benefits CAP can provide.
Scientists cannot study the GI tract in real-time for long-term dietary interventions. Hence an advanced in vitro model was used. Research can see and track the effects of targeted nutrition approaches like capsaicin on gut microbial abundance and mix using this robust and validated method.
They used a human fecal sample (it contains gut microbiota) and inoculated it. They added CAP to those samples and observed it for two weeks.
This study found that capsaicin can alter the structure of the gut microbial community. CAP mainly alters the structure of SCFA (Short Chain Fatty Acids) and influences the community by changing the diversity.
Previous in vivo studies have shown CAP decreases weight gain and food intake in mice. These studies observed an increased number of gut bacteria.
They observed that the changes in gut microbial composition are likely responsible for the majority of the positive health benefits of CAP treatment. Changing the abundance of SCFAs results in a positive health effect. Scientists reported similar results by using in vitro technique. Hence they confirmed that CAP has positive health benefits for human beings.
Existing Medical Use of Capsaicin
CAP is used in therapeutic medicine for heart diseases, weight loss, and pain relief. The anti-inflammatory properties of capsaicin make it an effective supplement for promoting heart health. An investigation of adults with low levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) found that capsaicin significantly reduced their risk factors for heart disease over three months.
CAP has FDA-approved indications for arthritis, musculoskeletal pain, neuropathy complications, nausea, vomiting, and psoriasis. Moreover, current topical ointments contain capsaicin to ease the pain of neuralgia caused by shingles.
Incorporating capsaicin can be great for your health. Although there are certain therapeutic drugs available in the market containing CAP as the main chemical component, more research can lead to further medicinal advancements. Since health conditions such as obesity, IBD, and weight gain are rising across the globe, research on CAP can be beneficial to reduce the risks of such conditions.
Readman, M. (2022, April 20). Research finds this popular spice can help support your gut microbiome. Mindbodygreen. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/capsaicin-gut-health-study