Monday, June 02, 2008

Hot Chilies Cool Pain

tidbits that tantalizeSurprisingly Soothing...

Do you love spicy food? Terrific - you may be well on your way to a pain free existence. OK, so that's a bit of an overstatement. But, hot chili peppers may indeed play a major role in reducing common pain.

A Harvard Medical School professor, Clifford Wolfe, has discovered a tantalizing new use for capsaicin. This is the pesky little component in chili peppers that produces the heat. The greater the capsaicin content, the greater the heat. Now, though, professor Wolfe has found a terribly practical use for the heat blasting capsaicin. Used in combination with a form of lidocaine it makes a fabulous pain killer.

The major advantage of the new anesthetic is its ability to block pain without the common side effects of numbness and temporary paralysis. Think of it. You could have that cavity filled - without the pain - and not make a total fool of yourself ten minutes later by dribbling soda down your chin. Of course, you wouldn't have that "give me some sympathy, I just came from the dentist" lisp, but you'd survive.

The key is in their combination. The capsaicin opens up the pain receptors and allows the lidocaine to block the pain from within the pain receptors themselves. Other common anesthetics block all the neurons in the area, including sense of touch and muscles. It's a bit of scientific trickery that holds great promise.

"This is the first example of using the body's own cellular channels as a drug delivery system, targeting treatment only at pain fibers," said professor Wolfe.

So, keep those fingers crossed. You may soon have a spicy new pain relief option available. No word yet as to the potential for delivering the new pain medication on a deep dish pizza...

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read about other health benefits of capsaicin, see this from


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