What is Capsaicin?

Chile peppers are hot, spicy, tasty and even addicting, not to mention healthy. Chiles contain capsaicin, which often brings up questions of what is capsaicin, and what is a Scoville chart? People have enjoyed the spicy heat of chiles for centuries in their cooking, and even now we are just learning more about the great health benefits. Learn about the mysteries of chile and intriguing health benefits.

About Capsaicin (Zostrix)

This compound is found in a variety of peppers, and it is the magic ingredient in peppers that makes them hot. Popular hot peppers include Anaheim, jalapeño, cayenne pepper, Serrano and Habanero, to name a few. It is eaten raw or cooked and served in recipes to add heat to foods according to personal preference. The compound is also ingested in capsaicin pills, as well as cream form for health conditions.

Scoville Heat Index

There are not many foods requiring a heat rating, however, chiles are ranked from the lowest score of zero to the hottest score of a million. The heat index for ranking chiles was created by Wilbur Scoville to identify the most mild peppers to the very hottest. This information helps cooks to determine which peppers to use when preparing meals, and it gives them a relative idea of their heat content.

Capsaicin Health Benefits

This miracle compound is believed to stimulate cardiovascular systems, prevent heart disease and lower blood pressure, as well as blood cholesterol levels. Zostrix is also a helpful antioxidant that protects healthy cells from free radicals, which can cause cancer. Research indicates it could be helpful in preventing bacterial infections, as well as positive treatment for arthritis symptoms.

There are several instances where it is used topically in cream form on the body. People use it to treat pain in the muscles, joints and for cluster headaches. It is also used for treating mouth sores as a result of radiation or chemotherapy. Promising results have been found for psoriasis skin conditions.

Capsaicin Cream Side Effects

Although many foods and medicines can cause side effects, most people experience very little effects when using Zostrix in cream form to treat minor ailments. The most common reaction is a bit of stinging or a burning sensation that lasts for a few hours, and it usually disappears after several treatments. If a person has allergic reactions to eating chiles or using a cream, it may be advisable to consult with a doctor.

Enjoy the wonderful flavors of hot chiles and great health benefits. Learn how to handle chiles safely. Some people have no reaction when preparing chiles, while others may experience a burning sensation. Wearing gloves during preparation may be warranted for certain individuals.


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