Health: here are the powerful virtues of hot pepper, you will be surprised

Health: here are the powerful virtues of hot pepper, you will be surprised

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Is named habanero, peppers, jalapeno, poblano or bird… On a plate, the taste qualities of peppers eaten raw, cooked or as a condiment are unmistakable. What if this food could do more than just make dishes delicious or strongly spicy, depending on preference? What if it was therapeutic?

Such it is the hypothesis raised by researchers at the University of Montreal (UdeM) they were particularly interested in capsaicin. Contained in the inner wall of the peppers, this molecule is the chemical compound that produces the burning sensation in the mouth when eating the pepper: This hotness, which varies according to the variety of pepper, is measured on the scale of Scoville considered the unit of measure of the strength of a pepper.

The interest is to measure the amount of capsaicin contained in each variety of chili and thus measure its strength. In bottom of classification is the bell pepper (with a unit of 0) and the first place goes to pure capsaicin. Exploring the medicinal properties of this molecule in more detail, the researchers first recall that, applied to the skin in cream form, capsaicin can relieve certain arthritis pain or pain associated with neuralgia. postherpeticthe most common complication of shingles.

In the first applications, the cream tends to cause a burning sensation, redness and inflammation. If it may seem paradoxical to inflict additional pain on yourself to alleviate the initial one, the PR rejean Couture, from the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Montreal, explains that it is about “fighting fire with fire”.

In fact, explains the latter, capsaicin activates a nociceptor (pain receptor) located at the peripheral end of sensory neurons (C fibers) fur. When this nociceptor is stimulated by an excess of capsaicin, that is, the repeated application of topical treatment, the C fiber ends up emptying of all its neuromediators responsible for signaling pain to the brain.

Capsaicin, a potential antibiotic?

Thus, ” us hypersensitizes the system to then desensitize it and temporarily relieve pain caused by the shingles virus or other types of inflammation neurogenic involving C fibers. », specifies. Of course, it’s possible to apply a capsaicin-based cream for pain relief, but the most common way the molecule is encountered is by eating it. Its potential virtues then become antioxidants, anticancer Y antiobesogensaccording to studies.

“Capsaicin could influence the life cycle of cancer cells by promoting apoptosis, programmed cell death, a mechanism that no longer works normally in cancer cells. They survive and multiply, when they should have been destroyed by apoptosis. Capsaicin would have the virtue of participating in the destruction of some of them. Then the molecule would have properties antiobesogenssuch as increased energy expenditure and the feeling of satiety”, the researchers stress. Be careful, however, the scientific team specifies that capsaicin is not a panacea, that its benefits are usually demonstrated in in vitro studies and that it has not been shown that they can be extended to humans. Moreover, we do not eat nutrients, but foods whose power must be put into perspective since their real effects are often the result of a combination of factors.

But she is optimistic, citing the finding of a German literature review that provided evidence that capsaicin is a promising complementary option for treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. If the molecule is not powerful enough to replace existing antibiotics, its ability to reduce the number of antibiotics when treating bacterial infection would contribute reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. Phenomenon that consists, for a bacterium, in becoming resistant to antibiotics: Bacteria exposed to antibiotics develop defense mechanisms that allow them to escape their action.

It is in this specific area that the researchers want to delve further. “Approaches that combine two molecules have several advantages, as they can have a synergistic effect », says Yves Brun, microbiologist, researcher specializing in antibiotic resistance and professor at the Department of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology at theUdeM.

“Capsaicin is well absorbed by the body and does not appear to be toxic, at least at the dose ingested. However, we don’t know its mechanism of action, so this is where further research should start.” Therefore, the next step for the scientific team will be to carry out future clinical trials to better determine the underlying molecular mechanisms, as well as to validate the results obtained in the laboratory before launching a study in humans. “In summary, if the effects of capsaicin are antioxidant, antiobesogensantibiotics or just blissfully searing, why go without the hot sauce? », she jokes in conclusion.

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