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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Cayenne for Weight Control
Some dieters say that cayenne helps decrease appetite.
Research suggests that cayenne increases the body's heat production (thermogenesis) and speeds up the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Also in these studies, cayenne increased production of epinephrine and norepinephrine—a sign of increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which could account for the reduction in appetite. The studies thus far are few and relatively small (less than 20 participants).
Controlled studies report that adding 6 to 10 grams of cayenne to a meal or 28 grams to an entire day's diet reduces hunger after meals and reduces calories consumed during subsequent meals.1, 2 Other controlled studies have reported that calorie burning by the body increases slightly when 10 grams of cayenne is added to a meal or 28 grams is added to an entire day's diet 3, 4, 5 However, no studies have been done to see if regularly adding cayenne to the diet has any effect on weight loss.
Besides causing a mild burning during the first few applications (or severe burning if accidentally placed in sensitive areas, such as the eyes), side effects are few with the use of capsaicin cream.6 As with anything applied to the skin, some people may have an allergic reaction to the cream, so the first application should be to a very small area of skin. Do not attempt to use capsaicin cream intra-nasally for headache treatment without professional guidance.
When consumed as food—one pepper per day for many years—cayenne may increase the risk of stomach cancer, according to one study.7 A different human study found that people who ate the most cayenne actually had lower rates of stomach cancer.8 Overall, the current scientific evidence is contradictory. Thus, the relationship between cayenne consumption and increased risk of stomach cancer remains unclear.9 Oral intake of even 1 ml of tincture three times per day can cause burning in the mouth and throat, and can cause the nose to run and eyes to water. People with ulcers, heartburn, or gastritis should use any cayenne-containing product cautiously as it may worsen their condition.
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Cayenne (Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens) contains the potent chemical capsaicin, which acts on special nerves found in the stomach lining. In two rat studies, researchers reported that stimulation of these nerves by capsaicin might protect against the damage aspirin can cause to the stomach. In a study of 18 healthy human volunteers, a single dose of 600 mg aspirin taken after ingestion of 20 grams of chili pepper was found to cause less damage to the lining of the stomach and duodenum (part of the small intestine) than aspirin without chili pepper. However, cayenne may cause stomach irritation in some individuals with stomach inflammation (gastritis) or ulcers and should be used with caution.
Last Review: 06-04-2015
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