Capsaicin is the chemical compound in chili peppers that makes them spicy. For years, that’s all capsaicin was known to do. But recently, a team of researchers decided to measure the weight loss benefits of capsaicin – and they found some surprising results.
Learn everything you need to know about the metabolism-boosting weight loss power of capsaicin today in our capsaicin review.
What is Capsaicin?
Capsaicin is a compound found in chili peppers. It gives chili peppers their unique spiciness. Chili peppers belong to the genus Capsicum, which is where capsaicin gets its name.
Capsaicin is an irritant for most mammals and humans are no exception. As an irritant, capsaicin produces a burning sensation when it contacts any tissue.
Capsaicin is found in all chili peppers. However, pure capsaicin itself is a volatile compound which is completely odorless and colorless.
Chemically speaking, capsaicin is one of six natural capsaicinoids. It’s the most active capsaicinoid in chili peppers, followed by dihydrocapsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin, homocapsaicin, and nonivamide.
Many people first heard about capsaicin and its weight loss benefits in February 2015, when University of Wyoming researchers published the results of a breakthrough study on weight loss and capsaicin. However, the compound has been studied for many years: it was first extracted and identified in 1816, and a synthetic form was synthesized in 1930.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that people discovered the weight loss benefits of capsaicin.
Uses for Capsaicin
Capsaicin has been used for a surprising range of different purposes, including all of the following:
Capsaicin is regularly added to foods to give them an extra bit of heat or spiciness. Since many people and cultures enjoy the heat, the food industry has always demanded lots of capsaicin-spiced foods and beverages. Today, many salsa, hot sauces, and beverages have capsaicin additives.
Capsaicin is used as a topical ointment in certain medical situations. In low concentrations (between 0.025% and 0.25%), it’s been used to relive aches and pains. Those with arthritis and other joint or nerve conditions often benefit from capsaicin application.
Some anecdotal evidence also supports the use of capsaicin for treating cancer, malaria, yellow fever, heart disease, stroke, poor appetite, addiction, and sexual dysfunction, although none of these benefits have been proven in peer-reviewed scientific studies.
Capsaicin is the primary and most active ingredient in most pepper sprays. When targeted towards the eyes skin, and nose, it can create severe breathing problems, redness, and pain.
Capsaicin affects all mammals, which is why it’s often used to deter mammalian pests. Farmers may discourage rabbit, deer, squirrels, and voles using capsaicin repellants, for example. Birds, however, are immune to the inflammatory effects of capsaicin. Many farmers take advantage of this fact by adding capsaicin to bird seed to discourage pests while still being able to safely feed their birds.
Banned Substance in Equestrian Sports
Capsaicin is actually a banned substance in equestrian sports. The pain-relieving effects are too powerful when used on horses, which gives treated horses an unfair competitive advantage. At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, four horses were disqualified from equestrian events after testing positive for capsaicin.
Capsaicin For Weight Loss
More recently, capsaicin has been studied for its weight loss benefits. Supporters of capsaicin claim that the compound can encourage thermogenesis (fat burning) and decrease appetite.
Capsaicin has received a flurry of media attention over the last few weeks because of a recent report from the University of Wyoming. A group of researchers at the school developed a way to use capsaicin to stimulate energy metabolism, leading to weight loss “without the need to restrict calorie intake.”
Here’s how capsaicin is connected with weight loss:
— Dietary capsaicin stimulates thermogenesis and energy burning by activating receptors. These receptors include white and brown fat cells.
— By targeting these receptors, capsaicin may be used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
— The University of Wyoming researchers studied the weight loss effects of capsaicin by giving groups of mice a high-fat diet. One group of mice had a high-fat diet that contained 0.01% capsaicin, while another group did not.
— The group of mice that took capsaicin were observed to have avoided “high-fat-diet-induced weight gain”. In other words, they were able to eat a high-fat diet without gaining weight.
— Researchers believe the weight loss benefits of capsaicin are connected to the fact that capsaicin acts as a chief “agonist” of the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1, which is also known as vanilloid 1 or TRPV1.
— Researchers concluded their report on capsaicin by stating the following: “Collectively, our data provide evidence for the role of TRPV1 and its activation by dietary CAP and exercise to inhibit HFD-induced obesity.”
You can view the abstract for the University of Wyoming study here.
Ultimately, the study doesn’t show that capsaicin can lead directly to weight loss. It does, however, show that capsaicin can reduce your risk of getting fat even when you eat a high-fat diet.
Next up for capsaicin will be human clinical trials.
Will capsaicin repeat its benefits with humans?
What happens when you combine small amounts of capsaicin with healthy diet and exercise?
Researchers suspect capsaicin could be a hit in a loss industry eagerly searching for the next big fad.
Is Capsaicin the Next Big Diet Fad?
Over the past few years we’ve seen numerous dietary compounds rise and fall. Yacon syrup, Acai Berry, and Garcinia Cambogia are just a few of the natural weight loss compounds we’ve seen explode with popularity over the last few years despite minimal scientific evidence supporting their of weight loss benefits.
Capsaicin has one thing in common with all of these compounds: early trials on mice were extremely successful.
However, yacon syrup, acai berry, and Garcinia cambogia all failed to produce weight loss results when they got to the clinical trial stage with humans.
Of course, that didn’t stop them from becoming wildly successful.
If capsaicin can replicate its weight loss benefits in humans, then this unique natural compound has a very real chance of becoming the world’s next biggest weight loss sensation.
Conclusion: Who Should Use Capsaicin?
According to the World Health Organization, one third of the population around the world is currently overweight or obese.
Given that information, capsaicin could provide a low-cost, easy-to-use method of boosting metabolism and encouraging natural weight loss.
Whether you want to chomp on chili peppers or take a capsaicin extract supplement, capsaicin has shown real potential to be a powerful thermogenic metabolism booster and weight loss aid.