A Systematic Review of the Effects of Capsaicin on Alzheimer's Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jun 15;24(12):10176. doi: 10.3390/ijms241210176.


Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by cognitive impairment, and amyloid-β plaques and neurofibrillary tau tangles at neuropathology. Capsaicin is a spicy-tasting compound found in chili peppers, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and possible neuroprotective properties. Capsaicin intake has been associated with greater cognitive function in humans, and attenuating aberrant tau hyperphosphorylation in a rat model of AD. This systematic review discusses the potential of capsaicin in improving AD pathology and symptoms. A systematic analysis was conducted on the effect of capsaicin on AD-associated molecular changes, cognitive and behaviour resulting in 11 studies employing rodents and/or cell cultures, which were appraised with the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. Ten studies showed capsaicin attenuated tau deposition, apoptosis, and synaptic dysfunction; was only weakly effective on oxidative stress; and had conflicting effects on amyloid processing. Eight studies demonstrated improved spatial and working memory, learning, and emotional behaviours in rodents following capsaicin treatment. Overall, capsaicin showed promise in improving AD-associated molecular, cognitive, and behavioural changes in cellular and animal models, and further investigations are recommended to test the readily available bioactive, capsaicin, to treat AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease; amyloid; capsaicin; chilli peppers; cognition; tau.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Capsaicin / therapeutic use
  • Cognition
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology
  • Rats
  • tau Proteins


  • Capsaicin
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • tau Proteins

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.