Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their kick can be used in treatment for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia (nerve pain experienced after shingles).
Pain relieving, over-the-counter capsaicin creams are effective for some people with arthritis or diabetic neuropathy’ nerve damage that often occurs in feet and fingertips in people with high blood glucose levels.
But not all peppers can relieve pain. Native to the Americas, the Capsicum genus includes numerous species of flowering plants that produce large red, yellow or green fruits. These include bell peppers and the spicy, capsaicin-containing varieties known as chili peppers. Common varieties of these include cayenne, jalapeño and Tabasco (named after the Mexican state by the same name and made popular by the hot sauce company that shares the name as well). It is these spicy varieties, because of the spice-causing capsaicin, that are used in pain relief remedies.
How to use capsaicin as a remedy
For osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic neuropathy, apply an over-the- counter cream containing 0.025 percent capsaicin to aching joints or feet 4 times a day for 3 to 4 weeks. About 40 percent of people who try this experience stinging, burning or skin redness at first, but these effects fade as capsaicin desensitizes nerves.
Next time you have a cold, sprinkle chili (flakes, powder or finely chopped fresh chili) onto your food. The heat will stimulate drainage from the nasal and sinus passages. Consumed fresh, chilies are a good source of vitamin C. However, eat them in moderation, as eating large amounts may cause nausea, stomach pain and diarrhea.
- Complementary Therapies