June 15th, 2010
09:41 AM ET
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Category: Ingredient
Definition: The bitter chemical compound that gives chile peppers their characteristic heat

Filed under: Definition • Eatcyclopedia • Glossary • Hot • Ingredient

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. SteveInMinneapolis

    Here's a news flash for you then. Capsaicin (peppers) is related to solanine (potatoes and eggplant), tomatine (tomatos), and nicotine (tobacco) all of which are from the nightshade family of plants. In some people, these compounds will have a significant impact on the quality of life. Without realizing it, I was consuming large quantities of nightshades. For me, there were many health side affects from them including musculoskeletal pain and soreness, low grade fever, muscle spasms, and incredible fatigue. Conventional medicine has not discovered this connection (one exception is Dr Childers work from a number of years ago). The basic mechanism is that these compounds affect how calcium is used and placed in the body and therefore has the potential to cause arthritis-like symptoms. One crazy affect on me was three frozen shoulders (twice on the left side and once on the right) in the 18 month period where my consumption of these compounds significantly increased. Try googling "nightshade arthritis".

    June 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • Pete

      Capsaicin can't be that bad for you. Millions of asians eat CRAZY hot spicy food (me too tho, love it) and have no ill effects. I'd be willing to bet that most of the illness cases have to do with an undetected allergy or some other adverse reaction to the substance.

      Some of the most healthy people I know are Koreans. They eat some of the hottest dishes in the world, and have no evidence of issues with capsaicin. Personally, the worst reaction I have is sweating.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
      • SteveInMinneapolis

        BTW, I'm asian and I love CRAZY hot too. And I was also extremely healthy. I was running 3 times a week, lifting weights 2 times a week, and working out pretty intensely in other ways. How do we know that none these people have no ill affects? I'm not suggesting that everyone who eats this stuff will have an adverse reaction but a certain segment of folks will. How many people have "diseases" that have some relationship to calcium (e.g. arthritis)? The mainstream is just not aware of the affects of nightshades and so cause and affect won't be understood. For me, the initial affects were fatigue and my first frozen shoulder. How in the world does one connect consuming a food with those two affects? The time from consumption of these substances to the side affect is 24 hours (for soreness) in the shortest example to weeks and months in the longer term. At least the sweating that you describe occurs nearly immediately during consumption and so cause and affect is clear. The affects I describe take much longer and are therefore much more difficult to connect with consumption of a given food. Perhaps you could call what I went through an allergy but the symptoms are not consistent to what I believe to be an allergic reaction.

        Your body has a finite ability to remove this substance. If you consume it faster than your body can remove it, it will accumulate throughout tissues in the body. Maybe your body will react to these substances or possibly not. I stopped nightshade consumption over 5 months ago and can still feel its affects. In terms of intensity of symptoms, they have *slowly* diminished over the months. Ever so slowly. I don't believe this is typical for an allergy.

        June 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  2. J

    Not a new concept.
    Sold in rubs, ointments and creams.
    Soothes the stomach, unlike black pepper–which is an irritant.
    This is simply not news.

    June 23, 2010 at 11:20 am |
    • Zeppelin

      C'mon dude. It's CNN... You know what to expect by now.

      June 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
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