The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans

Chem Senses. 2012 Feb;37(2):103-21. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjr100. Epub 2011 Oct 29.


Consumption of spicy foods containing capsaicin, the major pungent principle in hot peppers, reportedly promotes negative energy balance. However, many individuals abstain from spicy foods due to the sensory burn and pain elicited by the capsaicin molecule. A potential alternative for nonusers of spicy foods who wish to exploit this energy balance property is consumption of nonpungent peppers rich in capsiate, a recently identified nonpungent capsaicin analog contained in CH-19 Sweet peppers. Capsiate activates transient receptor potential vanilloid subtype 1 (TRPV1) receptors in the gut but not in the oral cavity. This paper critically evaluates current knowledge on the thermogenic and appetitive effects of capsaicin and capsiate from foods and in supplemental form. Meta-analyses were performed on thermogenic outcomes, with a systematic review conducted for both thermogenic and appetitive outcomes. Evidence indicates that capsaicin and capsiate both augment energy expenditure and enhance fat oxidation, especially at high doses. Furthermore, the balance of the literature suggests that capsaicin and capsiate suppress orexigenic sensations. The magnitude of these effects is small. Purposeful inclusion of these compounds in the diet may aid weight management, albeit modestly.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Appetite / drug effects*
  • Appetite Regulation / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Capsaicin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Capsaicin / metabolism
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mouth / drug effects
  • Mouth / physiology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Thermogenesis / drug effects


  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, human
  • capsiate
  • Capsaicin