Supplement Guide: Capsaicin
Capsaicin (Capsicum frutescens)
Origin: The highly purified, heat-producing component in chili peppers
What we know: Applied as a topical cream, gel or patch, capsaicin activates specific nerve receptors causing local heat, stinging and/or itching sensations. Prolonged activation of these receptors causes them to lose their ability to function properly (and process pain signals) for extended periods of time. Capsaicin must be used regularly to keep the nerve receptors from working properly and processing pain signals.
Studies: Many studies have shown that capsaicin effectively reduces pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. In a 2010 German study, joint pain decreased nearly 50 percent after three weeks' use of 0.05 percent capsaicin cream.
Dosage: Most capsaicin products – such as Zostrix, Zostrix HP, Capzasin-P and others – contain between 0.025 to 0.075 percent concentrations. Apply regularly three times daily.
Capsaicin can cause burning and irritation. Avoid applying it near your eyes or on sensitive skin.