Peppers are more often on the list of foods to avoid, so it may be surprising to learn that they may quench the fire of heartburn. The scientific basis of this lies in the capsaicin (the hot stuff in jalapeno peppers) which may protect the stomach lining (Journal of Physiology, Paris, Jan-Dec, 2001). Regular use appears to decrease reflux symptoms (Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, April, 2010). This may be because regular use of capsaicin cream on the skin can reduce pain. This is by depleting the chemical that transmits pain.
A small randomised study published in 2010 found that long term ingestion of chili improved functional dyspepsia and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) symptoms. Details are here.
The UK’s Channel 4 “Superfoods” programme recently aired a story on research conducted in Thailand. This confirmed these findings; the key to pain reduction was consistent ingestion of chillies – stopping and starting just caused more acute pain. To significantly reduce the pain of heartburn, study participants ate 3 gms of hot chillies every day for 6 weeks. For UK readers, the programme can be seen here.
The programme also shows an interview with a Thai doctor and her patient, who is successfully using the chilli approach to ease his chronic heartburn.
It’s important to be aware that using chillies in this way appears not to cure gerd; it merely masks the pain of the reflux by de-sensitising the pain receptors. Any damage caused to the tissues of the esophagus by the reflux may still occur.
GERD Suffering Fans of Chillies Quench The Fire Of Heartburn
Here’s one supporter of the use of peppers to alleviate the discomfort of acid reflux (from http://www.peoplespharmacy.com) :
So are you going to fight fire with fire and quench the fire of heartburn?
If you do, please let us know how you get on in the comments section below, but be warned – it’s probably going to hurt at first! You should inform your physician if you decide to do this.
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