Capsaicin Causes Pain, No Gain

Emily Johnson Capsaicin

William Yang presents “Capsaicin suppresses body weight gain and pain reaction in mice” at the Experimental Biology 2016 meeting in San Diego. Credit: Emily Johnson

Capsaicin is a chemical people love or hate. It’s the chemical in hot peppers and spicy foods responsible for their spicy (and sometimes painful) taste, but researchers in Maryland and Pennsylvania think it may have some health benefits. William Yang, a high school student who worked on the project at the Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia, shared their findings at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego.

The research team gave mice capsaicin for a total of 90 days. Mice fed capsaicin gained 16.5 percent less weight than mice in the control group, suggesting that capsaicin either changed their appetite or their body’s metabolism. The mice also showed changes in their ability to handle high blood sugar and high insulin levels, indicating that capsaicin has effects on metabolism.

Yang says future studies are underway in the group’s laboratory to discover how and why these changes happened. In the meantime, the findings tell us that the beneficial effects of eating spicy foods might be worth a little bit of pain.


Emily JohnsonEmily Johnson, PhD, is an APS member and a former volunteer editor for the I Spy Physiology blog.

One thought on “Capsaicin Causes Pain, No Gain

  1. This is a very interesting story. It is exciting to know that Hot Chili or Capsaicin is health beneficial.
    William Yang’s presentation is passionate and beautiful!
    Great job and congratulations!
    Hong Wang


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