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Authors

  1. Singletary, Keith PhD

Abstract

Red peppers are part of a group of 20 plant species belonging to the genus Capsicum of the botanical family Solanaceae. The recognition that capsaicin can activate the transient receptor potential ion channel of the vanilloid type (TRPV1) has led to the use of red pepper extracts, capsaicin, and its analogs in pharmacological strategies for treating various medical conditions, especially pain and other neurological conditions. Interest in red pepper and capsaicin for dietary strategies to improve health has increased. The capacity of dietary capsaicin to manage gastrointestinal distress is unclear, because of a lack of understanding of its apparent contradictory actions within various segments of the gastrointestinal tract. More promising is evidence linking capsaicin and red pepper to improving weight loss and weight maintenance as well as lessening glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. However, progress in substantiating these benefits is limited by the need for larger, well-controlled human studies that can characterize capsaicin/red pepper's actions at doses more consistent with typical human intakes. Likewise, insights into both TRPV1-associated and TRPV1-independent mechanisms related to any health benefits of dietary red pepper have only begun to be explored