6 Amazing Health Benefits of Capsaicin

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Using capsaicin can be an excellent choice for those who want to improve their overall health, but knowing the potential side effects is important before adding it to your regimen.

What is Capsaicin?

Capsaicin is the active ingredient in many different chili peppers and is the compound that gives these peppers their spicy bite. It is a type of capsaicinoid and is a very powerful irritant, so using it for relief from pain and inflammation seems counterintuitive. However, there are a number of impressive health benefits to using this extract, so eating peppers and spicy foods are often encouraged for metabolic strength and the immune system. [1]

The only foods in which capsaicin are found in are:

  • Chili peppers including bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, and cayenne peppers, among others
  • Various salsas
  • Curries
  • Spices, such as paprika

Note: Due to the irritating nature of this compound, it is sometimes necessary to neutralize it so that your mouth stops burning. Drinking milk is an excellent way to neutralize the effects of this neuropeptide extract, as the animal fats and proteins bind to the same receptors in the mouth.

Different types of bell peppers and capsicum on a wooden table

Add colorful bell peppers to your salads. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Capsaicin Health Benefits

The major health benefits of capsaicin include its ability to soothe headaches, manage diabetes, aid in weight loss efforts, improve digestion, and alleviate pain, among others.

Anticancer Potential

While the positive correlation between capsaicin and cancer is yet disputed and needs to be supported with large-scale trials, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center [2] highlights some anticancer possibilities of this component. According to some studies, capsaicin could be exploited for its antiproliferative and chemopreventive potential against prostate, breast, and bladder cancer. It could also prove beneficial against chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy by relieving pain.

Skin Conditions

When you apply this substance to your skin, it will help to soothe pain and inflammation, although it may cause initial irritation or discomfort. By blocking the pain receptors in the skin, it can reduce chronic discomfort. [3]


Capsaicin may be useful in the management of diabetes. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that the spicy nature of capsaicin could be helpful in managing blood sugar levels. Furthermore, capsaicin is also effective in reducing the pain induced by diabetic nephropathy. [4] [5]

Weight Loss

By boosting the metabolism and helping to detoxify the body, this substance can help your whole system run more smoothly and make your workouts more effective. [6]


The effects of capsaicin can help to regulate the digestive system and eliminate waste more effectively, thus reducing symptoms of diarrhea and constipation. [7]


Rubbing this substance on your temples, in an ointment form, can help to relax the pressure in your head and soothe the symptoms of migraines. [8]

How to Use Capsaicin

The most common ways to use capsaicin are:

  • You can include mild to spicy peppers in your diet, depending on your comfort level.
  • It is also isolated and concentrated in supplement form.
  • It is available in certain creams and salves and can be applied topically to areas of inflammation.
  • For people who don’t like spicy foods, supplements or patches are the obvious choices.

Capsaicin Side Effects

The common side effects of eating capsaicin in any form are:

  • Irritation
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Increased photosensitivity
  • Serious allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing and hives
  • Irregular heart arrhythmias in rare cases
  • Blood pressure surges

Before taking this supplement or using these patches, be sure to speak with your doctor, particularly if you are already taking any other medications.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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