Capsicum

18/Description

About

Capsicum, also known as red pepper or chili pepper, is an herb. The fruit of the capsicum plant is used to make medicine.

Capsicum is taken by mouth for various problems with digestion including upset stomach, intestinal gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, and cramps. It is also used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels including poor circulation, excessive blood clotting, high cholesterol, and preventing heart disease. Some people use capsicum for burning mouth syndrome, improving exercise performance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), joint pain, stomach ulcers, weight loss, seasickness, toothaches, difficulty swallowing, alcoholism, malaria, and fever.

Some people apply capsicum to the skin for pain caused by shingles, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, HIV, and a certain condition that causes facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia). It is also used for muscular pain, back pain, and pain after surgery.

Some people apply capsicum to relieve muscle spasms, for skin eruptions (prurigo nodularis), to prevent nausea and vomiting after surgery, as a gargle for laryngitis, and to discourage thumb-sucking or nail-biting.

Some people put capsicum inside the nose to treat hay fever, migraine headache, cluster headache, and sinus infections (sinusitis).

One form of capsicum is currently being studied as a drug for migraine, osteoarthritis, and other painful conditions.

A particular form of capsicum causes intense eye pain and other unpleasant effects when it comes in contact with the face. This form is used in self-defense pepper sprays.

How it works

The fruit of the capsicum plant contains a chemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin seems to reduce pain sensations when applied to the skin. It might also reduce swelling.

Effectiveness

Likely Effective
Nerve damage related to diabetes

Some research shows that applying a cream or using a skin patch containing capsaicin, the active chemical found in capsicum, reduces pain in people with nerve damage caused by diabetes. A specific cream containing 0.075% capsaicin (Zostrix-HP, Link Medical Products Pty Ltd.) is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating this condition. Creams or gels that contain less capsaicin don't seem to work.

Pain

Applying creams and lotions containing capsaicin, the active chemical in capsicum, can temporarily relieve chronic pain from several conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, back pain, jaw pain, psoriasis, and other conditions.

Nerve damage caused by shingles

Applying a patch containing 8% capsaicin (Qutenza, NeurogesX Inc.), the active chemical in capsicum reduces pain over 24 hours by 27% to 37% for in people with nerve damage caused by shingles. This capsaicin patch is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this use. It is only available by prescription.

Concerns

Likely safe

Capsicum is LIKELY SAFE when consumed in amounts typically found in food. Side effects can include stomach irritation and upset, sweating, flushing, and runny nose. Medicinal lotions and creams that contain capsicum extract are also LIKELY SAFE for most adults when applied to the skin. The active chemical in capsicum, capsaicin, is approved by the FDA as an over-the-counter medication. Side effects can include skin irritation, burning, and itching. Capsicum can also be extremely irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat. Don't use capsicum on sensitive skin or around the eyes

Possibly safe

Capsicum is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as medicine, short-term, when applied to the skin appropriately, and when used in the nose. No serious side effects have been reported, but application in the nose can be very painful. Nasal application can cause burning pain, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. These side effects tend to decrease and go away after 5 or more days of repeated use

Possibly unsafe

Capsicum is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to take by mouth in large doses or for long periods of time. In rare cases, this can lead to more serious side effects like liver or kidney damage, as well as severe spikes in blood pressure.

18/Warnings

Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Capsicum isLIKELY SAFEwhen applied to the skin duringpregnancy. But not enough is known about its safety when taken by mouth. Stay on the safe side and don't use capsicum if you arepregnant.

If you are breast-feeding, using capsicum on your skin is LIKELY SAFE. But it is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for your baby if you take capsicum by mouth. Skin problems (dermatitis) have been reported in breast-fed infants when mothers eat foods heavily spiced with capsicum peppers.

Children: Applying capsicum to the skin of children under two years of age is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Not enough is known about the safety of giving capsicum to children by mouth. Don't do it.

Bleeding disorders: While conflicting results exist, capsicum might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Damaged or broken skin: Don't use capsicum on damaged or broken skin.

Diabetes: In theory, capsicum might affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Until more is known, monitor your blood sugar closely if you take capsicum. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

High blood pressure: Taking capsicum or eating a large amount of chili peppers might cause a spike in blood pressure. In theory, this might worsen the condition for people who already have high blood pressure.

Surgery: Capsicum might increase bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using capsicum at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions

Always consult with your doctor.
Moderate
Aspirin

Capsicum might decrease how much aspirin the body can absorb. Taking capsicum along with aspirin might reduce the effectiveness of aspirin.

Cefazolin

Capsicum might increase how much cefazolin the body can absorb. Taking capsicum along with cefazolin might increase the effects and side effects of cefazolin.

Ciprofloxacin

Capsicum might increase how much ciprofloxacin the body can absorb. Taking capsicum along with ciprofloxacin might increase the effects and side effects of ciprofloxacin.

Cocaine

Cocaine has many dangerous side effects. Using capsicum along with cocaine might increase the side effects of cocaine, including heart attack and death.

Theophylline

Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. Capsicum might also decrease blood sugar. Taking capsicum along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.Some research shows that capsicum might increase blood pressure. In theory, taking capsicum along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might reduce the effectiveness of these drugs.Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.Capsicum might slow blood clotting. Taking capsicum along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.Capsicum can increase how much theophylline the body can absorb. Taking capsicum along with theophylline might increase the effects and side effects of theophylline.

Warfarin (Coumadin)

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Capsicum might increase the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Taking capsicum along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

The information provided on this page is for reference purposes and is not meant to be used as a medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional. The content on this page has been provided with thanks by RxList.com