Hypersensitivity for capsaicin in patients with functional dyspepsia

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2008 Feb;20(2):125-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2007.00997.x. Epub 2007 Sep 7.


The pathophysiology of functional dyspepsia is poorly understood, thus diagnostic and therapeutic options for this disease are limited. We assessed the relevance of a simple test for chemical hypersensitivity by applying an oral capsaicin load. After a preliminary dose-finding study, 61 healthy controls and 54 functional dyspepsia patients swallowed a capsule containing 0.75 mg capsaicin. A graded questionnaire evaluated severity of symptoms before and after capsule ingestion; an aggregate symptom score was calculated by adding all symptom scores. Controls developed moderate symptoms (symptom score: 6.0+/-4.1; median: 5.0). The 75% quartile (9.0) was considered the upper limit of normal. Functional dyspepsia patients had significantly higher symptom scores (10.0+/-6.5) than controls. About 54% of functional dyspepsia patients tested positive; clinically this group was not different from the group testing negative besides being on average younger and suffering more from bloating. In additional 13 patients with functional dyspepsia who tested positive (symptom score: 15.8+/-0.9), symptom response to placebo capsules (1.9+/-0.6) was similar to controls. In reliability testing, the Cronbach alpha-value of the capsaicin test was 0.86. The capsaicin test is a simple and non-invasive method to detect a subgroup of functional dyspepsia with chemical hypersensitivity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Dyspepsia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sensory System Agents / pharmacology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Placebos
  • Sensory System Agents
  • Capsaicin