Capsaicin – To lose weight and remedy joint pain

Capsaicin – To lose weight and remedy joint pain

Capsaicin fights the accumulation of body fat in the body. In addition to inhibiting the sensation of joint pain. We tell you more about this interesting ingredient.

What is Capsaicin?

Capsaicin is a natural alkaloid found in the genus Capsicum.

It is a species of plant angiosperms, dicotyledons originating in the tropical and subtropical regions of America and belonging to the solanaceae family. Capsaicin can be found in chilli, jalapeño, guindilla chilli, pepperoncini, etc.

The primary spicy principle of the fruits of the genus capsicum (such as chilli pepper). This substance is an exogenous receptor agonist TPRV1, a trans-membrane ion receptor that acts on integrated responses to temperature, Ph and endogenous lipids.

Chilli peppers

The active ingredient in chilli peppers, capsaicin, can reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, nerves and joint pain, among others…

When this receptor is activated by endogenous or exogenous agonists, the transient opening of the tprv1 canal will occur and a depolarisation mediated by the input of ions of calcium and sodium will result in the activation of potentials action that will spread through the spinal cord and brain and give us the feelings of heat, burning, itching and irritation experienced by users of this compound.

Figure 1

Figure I. Effects of TRPV1 receptor activation on mitochondrial defunctionalisation and neural sensitivity


Activation of the TPRV1 receptor after prolonged or repeated exposure to its agonists results in “desensitisation”. The cause is reduced response of receptors, ion channels, and intracellular signalling pathways. These produce effects (e.g. by the use of capsaicin) such as analgesia due to an alteration of sensory nerve function.

Figure 2

Figure II. Effects of the application of capsaicin on TPRV1 and PGP9.5 (intra-epidermal nerve marker) pre-intervention, 1d post-intervention, 54d post-intervention

It is considered an irritating alkaloid and is the substance that causes your tongue to feel a burn when eating one of the foods listed above.
While some people don’t like spicy food, capsaicin can be really useful in promoting fat loss through several ways.

Capsaicin and appetite

By increasing consumption of capsaicin you can reduce your appetite, according to a 2009 study in the magazine Clinical Nutrition. In an experiment with 27 healthy volunteers, researchers found that consuming a combination of capsaicin and green tea made subjects feel less hunger and they consumed less calories.

Another 2009 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that capsaicin can help decrease ghrelin (a hormone involved in the feeling of hunger)

Capsaicin and the metabolism of body fat

A large number of laboratory studies show that capsaicin can help to accelerate the thermogenesis (a biological process involved in burning calories) and can produce a temporary increase in metabolism of about 23% 

Studies have found that capsaicin supplements are able to increase and maintain fat oxidation (fat burning) in people. However, what’s more interesting is that, if consumed with a meal, capsaicin is able to increase the oxidation of carbohydrates, while in turn slows the oxidation of lipids for a short period of time (up to two hours).

It can also help fight body fat accumulation. In tests with rats fed a high fat diet, the authors of a 2010 study in the journal Journal of Proteome Research found that capsaicin stimulates certain proteins known to break down fat and inhibit the action of proteins involved in fat production.

Lose fat

Recommended dose

The recommended dose to increase thermogenesis is 135 mg capsaicin / day. This dose may cause significant weight loss

Supplements with capsaicin

The tricky thing about finding supplements that contain capsaicin is that “capsaicin” often doesn’t appear as an ingredient. However, the name pepper may appear cayenne, red pepper, etc.  Don’t confuse it with the extract of black pepper that contains a substance called piperin, although in reality it is a related compound, it is not the same as capsaicin. Capsaicin is a very common ingredient in fat burners. It is highly recommended to choose a supplement containing capsaicin and green tea extract. This will further boost fat loss.

Risks of capsaicin

Capsaicin is safe, although being a natural irritant at extremely high doses can be toxic. It can also cause some unpleasant side effects in people who are not accustomed to it such as a burning sensation and upset stomach.

Eye contact should be avoided after handling a capsule containing capsaicin. If you are taking a supplement that contains this ingredient, start with small amounts and increase the amount as you get used to it

Interactions with some drugs are also known. Please see your doctor if you are already taking a medicine before you start capsaicin.

Avoid using capsaicin if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Capsaicin for the treatment of pain

Capsaicin, through its mechanism of action as a TPRV1 receptor agonist, produces a reversible reduction of the intra-epidermal nerves that trigger alterations in nociceptive function, thus a product with this compound at the appropriate concentrations (8% as maximum dosage) is a potential tool for the acute treatment of nerve pain induced by structural damage from training.

Figure 3

Figure III. Effects of the application of capsaicin against the control group on estimated perceived pain by using the NPRS scale

Joint pain due to training

It is not unusual to find users in the bodybuilding rooms that present with joint discomfort, alterations in the passive structures of their body and muscular inflammations of various kinds.

These joint discomforts, of low magnitude, make it difficult for us to carry out the movements


Far from the potential to trigger a real injury if we are competition athletes, our performance will be strongly constrained by this condition

This is because of training with external load, especially at high intensity, because it produces an organic delivery on the muscular, bony, articular, tendinous and ligamentous structures among others, and this can produce a series of alterations in its structure and functionality that end up triggering an acute and/or critical injury.

The smart and recommended thing is to go to a specialised professional. This can perform an in-vivo evaluation, diagnose, and treat. And track individual cases for each subject to ensure safe and efficient recovery

Capsaicin and human studies

Scientific literature in human interventions is limited. Although we have two meta-analyses that shed some light on the evidence on the effectiveness of the use of capsaicin in humans for pain treatment.

First, Laslett & Jones (2014) published a review of the literature available until 2012 with a total of 5 controls included with 4 to 12 week interventions and application of capsaicin formulations at varying concentrations between 0.025–0.075%.

Capsaicin evidence science

It was observed that the estimated pain using VAS was reduced by an average of 44% after 4 weeks of treatment; however, we could highlight the great heterogeneity of the interventions included in the meta-analysis, both in conditions and in results.

Despite this, the authors conclude that capsaicin treatment is moderately effective. It reduces the intensity of the pain in the area of application

Previously, another meta-analysis had been published (Mason et al. 2004), which included 6 interventions for musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain analysis and treatment with capsaicin.

The authors concluded that 0.075% capsaicin therapy showed a mean relative benefit of 1.4 in neuropathic pain treatment versus placebo, and 1.5 compared to placebo in musculoskeletal pain treatment with 0.025% capsaicin.

Figura 4

Figure IV. Response to treatment with capsaicin (Y-axis) vs placebo (e.g. X). About the treatment of neuropathic (white) and musculoskeletal pain (red)

“Topical application of capsaicin has poor-moderate efficacy in the treatment of chronic neuropathic or musculoskeletal pain. And can be used as a complement or as an isolated therapy in a small number of patients who are not responding or intolerant to other treatments” (Mason et al. 2004)

Capsaicin joint pain

Bibliography Sources

  1. Anand, P., & Bley, K. (2011). Topical capsaicin for pain management: therapeutic potential and mechanisms of action of the new high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch. BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, 107(4), 490–502.
  2. Laslett, L. L., & Jones, G. (2014). Capsaicin for osteoarthritis pain. Progress in Drug Research. Fortschritte Der Arzneimittelforschung. Progres Des Recherches Pharmaceutiques, 68, 277–291.
  3. Mason, L., Moore, R. A., Derry, S., Edwards, J. E., & McQuay, H. J. (2004). Systematic review of topical capsaicin for the treatment of chronic pain. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 328(7446), 991.

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About Alfredo Valdés
Alfredo Valdés
He is a specialist in metabolic physiopathology training and in the biomolecular effects of food and physical exercise.
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