Is using hot peppers to relive arthritis pain just an old wives’ tale, or is there some truth to this? Does the capsaicin in chili peppers help arthritis pain, fact or fiction?
How could chili peppers or other hot peppers help arthritis pain? All forms of chili peppers contain an ingredient called capsaicin. Studies have found capsaicin to be effective in the relief of arthritis pain.
How does capsaicin work on pain? Capsaicin seems to work on pain in two ways. First, it seems to affect neurotransmitters that sense pain in inflamed areas, reducing inflammation and the pain response from the brain. Second, capsaicin releases endorphins, feel good chemicals, in your body which help make you better able to deal with pain.
Do you have to eat chili peppers to get relief? While eating chili peppers would seem to be the best way to get capsaicin into the body, it is not the only way. Creams and injections containing capsaicin have also been shown to work for arthritis pain. You can also get supplements containing capsaicin.
A study by Case Western Reserve showed that topical cream containing capsaicin was 33% more effective than a placebo cream. Reported side effects were burning at the site of the application of the topical capsaicin cream in almost half of study participants. Otherwise, topical cream containing capsaicin is considered safe for use by those with arthritis.
Ways to get capsaicin. Supplements are only as effective as the amount of capsaicin they contain. The greater the amount of capsaicin, the longer the relief from osteoarthritis pain. You can also get topical relief with lotions, creams or gels containing capsaicin. The capsaicin is absorbed some through the skin, reaching sensory nerves to bring arthritis pain relief. Injections containing capsaicin have also been found to be effective in treating osteoarthritis pain.
A study on capsaicin injections in rats published in Life Science showed the pain-reducing and inflammation-reducing effects of capsaicin lasted well over 20 days in affected rats.
If you have digestive problems, you probably shouldn’t eat chili peppers or take capsaicin supplements. You might try a lotion, cream or gel containing capsaicin or ask your doctor about capsaicin injections to see if they may be right for you.
Chili peppers or capsaicin may not work on everyone who suffers from arthritis, but this natural remedy may be worth a try. Speak with your doctor before trying any treatment to deal with any condition you may have, just to be on the safe side.