Oral capsaicin provides temporary relief for oral mucositis pain secondary to chemotherapy/radiation therapy

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1995 Apr;10(3):243-8. doi: 10.1016/0885-3924(94)00130-D.


Pain from oral mucositis afflicts from 40% to 70% of patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Current methods of clinical pain management (for example, topical anesthetics, systemic analgesics) have limited success. In a pilot study, we examined the ability of oral capsaicin to provide temporary relief of oral mucositis pain. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, desensitizes some neurons and has provided moderate pain relief when applied to the skin surface. Oral capsaicin in a candy (taffy) vehicle produced substantial pain reduction in 11 patients with oral mucositis pain from cancer therapy. However, this pain relief was not complete for most patients and was only temporary. Additional research is needed to fully utilize the properties of capsaicin desensitization and thus optimize analgesia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Capsaicin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Capsaicin