Capsaicin and Its Role in Chronic Diseases

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016:929:91-125. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-41342-6_5.


A significant number of experimental and clinical studies published in peer-reviewed journals have demonstrated promising pharmacological properties of capsaicin in relieving signs and symptoms of non-communicable diseases (chronic diseases). This chapter provides an overview made from basic and clinical research studies of the potential therapeutic effects of capsaicin, loaded in different application forms, such as solution and cream, on chronic diseases (e.g. arthritis, chronic pain, functional gastrointestinal disorders and cancer). In addition to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of capsaicin largely recognized via, mainly, interaction with the TRPV1, the effects of capsaicin on different cell signalling pathways will be further discussed here. The analgesic, anti-inflammatory or apoptotic effects of capsaicin show promising results in arthritis, neuropathic pain, gastrointestinal disorders or cancer, since evidence demonstrates that the oral or local application of capsaicin reduce inflammation and pain in rheumatoid arthritis, promotes gastric protection against ulcer and induces apoptosis of the tumour cells. Sadly, these results have been paralleled by conflicting studies, which indicate that high concentrations of capsaicin are likely to evoke deleterious effects, thus suggesting that capsaicin activates different pathways at different concentrations in both human and rodent tissues. Thus, to establish effective capsaicin doses for chronic conditions, which can be benefited from capsaicin therapeutic effects, is a real challenge that must be pursued.

Keywords: Cancer; Capsaicin; Chronic diseases; Pain relief; Red pepper; Respiratory diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Analgesics / chemistry
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Capsaicin / adverse effects
  • Capsaicin / chemistry
  • Capsaicin / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Capsaicin