October 04, 2016
Archaeological evidence shows Mesoamerica civilizations were eating wild chili pepper in 7000 BC and have been cultivating chili from around 5200 - 3400 BC. Today chili is the most widely used spice in the world, consumed on a daily basis by over a quarter of the world’s population.
Beyond obvious culinary benefits, chili has also been used traditionally as a preservative and as an ingredient in medicinal remedies. Chilies, which are technically berries, contain a natural substance called capsaicin. It’s the stuff that makes a chili hot. Although it’s widely believed that the hottest part of the chili is the seeds, the seeds actually contain very little capsaicin and it’s the pith where the capsaicin is concentrated.
The first scientific paper reporting on the pharmacological effects of capsaicin was published in 1878 and over time capsaicin has become a hot research topic.
Here’s 6 ways this powerful natural chemical can be good for our health:
Anyone who has had a spicy hot dish when they’ve got a cold knows how well capsaicin heat works on clearing nasal and sinus congestion. Capsaicin is also used in nasal sprays to alleviate symptoms from non-allergic rhinitis, clearing up sinus pressure and sinus headache. The anti-bacterial component of capsaicin can help prevent mucous membranes from getting infected.
Capsaicin provides pain relief by overwhelming the nerves so that they can't transmit pain signals to the brain. Capsaicin is a common active ingredient in topical ointments used to relieve pain from arthritis, sore muscles and nerve damage such as diabetic neuropathy.
Clinical studies have found that capsaicin is effective in relieving and preventing headaches. The all-natural chemical relaxes muscles and blood vessels around the eyes and forehead.
The consumption of capsaicin temporarily increases your body temperature and basal metabolic rate and also makes you feel fuller, faster thus reducing food intake. It may even shift your body from carbohydrate oxidation to fat oxidation and provide increased energy. For these reasons a large proportion of weight loss supplements on the market contain capsaicin.
Capsaicin has found to be beneficial in a range of factors related to heart and blood vessel health including lowering blood pressure and reducing blood cholesterol. They also block action of a gene that makes arteries contract, restricting the flow of blood to the heart and organs. Cultures that tend to have hot peppers frequently in their cuisine have lower rates of heart attacks and strokes than cultures that do not.
There is some really interesting research being carried out on the ability of capsaicin to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells. So far the research is limited to petri dishes and mice – so don’t quit your current treatment regimes yet – but these early studies have found that capsaicin triggers the mitochondria in the cells to undergo apoptosis or cell suicide.
Capsaicin is easy to add to your diet. Hot sauces are a convenient way to spice up any meal from eggs and hash at breakfast to a lunch time soup or evening roasted veggies – especially as we move into cooler weather. Whilst the hotter the pepper usually the more capsaicin, even mild, sweeter peppers have some capsaicin and are great additions to your meals.
Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Sauce and Waha Wera Kiwifruit & Habanero sauce are from Kaitaia, a small town at the gateway to the Northern peninsula of New Zealand. The chilis are organically grown, hand picked and used in a traditional fermentation recipe. Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper sauce is a delicious red hot sauce made with all natural ingredients. Waha Wera is sweet, hot and flavorful. An award winner in the fruit sauce category at the Fiery Food Challenge in Albuqueque.
Related link: Are you game? Warning: proceed with caution
Always remember a good diet is about balance there's not need to down hot sauce in excess! Hot sauce is not a substitute for the prescription medications from your medical practitioner. Think of it as a pleasant supplement – for those that can handle the heat!
Anand, P., & Bley, K. (2011). Topical capsaicin for pain management: therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of the new high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch. British journal of anaesthesia, 107(4), 490-502.
Bernstein, M., & Woods, M. (2012). Hot Pepper Compound Could Help Hearts. American Chemical Society, March
Chow, J., Norng, M., Zhang, J., & Chai, J. (2007). TRPV6 mediates capsaicin-induced apoptosis in gastric cancer cells—Mechanisms behind a possible new “hot” cancer treatment. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Cell Research, 1773(4), 565-576.
Kawabata, F., Inoue, N., Yazawa, S., Kawada, T., Inoue, K., & Fushiki, T. (2006). Effects of CH-19 sweet, a non-pungent cultivar of red pepper, in decreasing the body weight and suppressing body fat accumulation by sympathetic nerve activation in humans. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 70(12), 2824-2835.
Singh, U., & Bernstein, J. A. (2014). Intranasal capsaicin in management of nonallergic (vasomotor) rhinitis. In Capsaicin as a Therapeutic Molecule (pp. 147-170). Springer Basel.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute, nor does it intend to constitute medical diagnosis or treatment or other professional advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regime.
Create an account to receive 5 Kiwi Credits (value $5)
off your first order
* New customers only. You'll receive an email when your account has been credited