Posted October 30, 2007 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Doctors Test Hot Sauce for Pain Relief

Hot sauces are in the news again as health treatments – seems this subject keeps getting kicked around by the newswire.

Doctors Test Hot Sauce for Pain Relief

WASHINGTON (AP), Devil’s Revenge. Spontaneous Combustion. Hot sauces have names like that for a reason. Now scientists are testing if the stuff that makes the sauces so savage can tame the pain of surgery.

Doctors are dripping the chemical that gives chili peppers their fire directly into open wounds during knee replacement and a few other highly painful operations.

Don’t try this at home: These experiments use an ultra-purified version of capsaicin to avoid infection, and the volunteers are under anesthesia so they don’t scream at the initial burn.

How could something searing possibly soothe? Bite a hot pepper, and after the burn your tongue goes numb. The hope is that bathing surgically exposed nerves in a high enough dose will numb them for weeks, so that patients suffer less pain and require fewer narcotic painkillers as they heal.

“We wanted to exploit this numbness,” is how Dr. Eske Aasvang, a pain specialist in Denmark who is testing the substance, puts it.

Chili peppers have been part of folk remedy for centuries, and heat-inducing capsaicin creams are a drugstore staple for aching muscles. But today the spice is hot because of research showing capsaicin targets key pain-sensing cells in a unique way.

California-based Anesiva Inc.’s operating-room experiments aren’t the only attempt to harness that burn for more focused pain relief. Harvard University researchers are mixing capsaicin with another anesthetic in hopes of developing epidurals that wouldn’t confine women to bed during childbirth, or dental injections that don’t numb the whole mouth.

Read the entire article here

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog