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Review
. 2006;46(4):275-328.
doi: 10.1080/1040-830491379236.

Capsaicin and Gastric Ulcers

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Review

Capsaicin and Gastric Ulcers

M N Satyanarayana. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. .

Abstract

In recent years, infection of the stomach with the organism Helicobacter Pylori has been found to be the main cause of gastric ulcers, one of the common ailments afflicting humans. Excessive acid secretion in the stomach, reduction in gastric mucosal blood flow, constant intake of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), ethanol, smoking, stress etc. are also considered responsible for ulcer formation. The prevalent notion among sections of population in this country and perhaps in others is that "red pepper" popularly known as "Chilli," a common spice consumed in excessive amounts leads to "gastric ulcers" in view of its irritant and likely acid secreting nature. Persons with ulcers are advised either to limit or avoid its use. However, investigations carried out in recent years have revealed that chilli or its active principle "capsaicin" is not the cause for ulcer formation but a "benefactor." Capsaicin does not stimulate but inhibits acid secretion, stimulates alkali, mucus secretions and particularly gastric mucosal blood flow which help in prevention and healing of ulcers. Capsaicin acts by stimulating afferent neurons in the stomach and signals for protection against injury causing agents. Epidemiologic surveys in Singapore have shown that gastric ulcers are three times more common in the "Chinese" than among Malaysians and Indians who are in the habit of consuming more chillis. Ulcers are common among people who are in the habit of taking NSAIDS and are infected with the organism "Helicobacter Pylori," responsible for excessive acid secretion and erosion of the mucosal layer. Eradication of the bacteria by antibiotic treatment and avoiding the NSAIDS eliminates ulcers and restores normal acid secretion.

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