If you’ve ever bitten into a big juicy cayenne chilli and given it a good chew you will be intimately familiar with the concept of true pain. Your eyeballs will turn to molten lava, and you’ll gasp for air as a thousand fire ants wielding flame throwers torch the inside of your head. At least that’s what it feels like.
But did you know that the active component in the chilli that causes that pain, is also capable of taking pain away?
Capscaisin is the little devil in the chilli (and other fruits in the pepper family) responsible for the unholy inferno upon your tongue, and it’s also the key ingredient in pain relieving ointments used for a number of health conditions. These conditions include:
· Sports injuries related to the muscles, tendons and joints
· Other joint inflammations caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
· Psoriasis and similar skin conditions
· Conditions related to the nervous system including diabetic neuropathy, trigeminal neuralgia and shingles
· Post surgery pain management
When applied to the skin, capscaisin does the same thing it does when you take an overly ambitious mouthful of Cousin Pedro’s Chilli Con Carne – it causes pain. Lots of it. However soon after, the pain reduces significantly providing the patient with relief from the pain associated with their original ailment.
How does it do this? The jury’s still out but some scientists believe that capscaisin controls pain by stimulating the chemical responsible for the transmission of pain messages throughout the body. Human and animal nerve biopsy studies have shown degeneration in the nerve fibers underneath the skin in the area where capsaicin is topically applied. This make account for the increase, followed by rapid decrease in pain levels.
However research has shown that capscaisin is most effective in the first 3-4 weeks of use with its effectiveness reducing after that period. This makes it ideal for sporting injuries but not suitable for long term pain management.
National Custom Compounding can make up capscaisin ointments and creams for the treatment of sports injuries and other musculoskeletal pain. Speak to your integrative doctor for more information on capscaisin and whether it’s the right treatment for you.