Capsaicin: Natures substitute for pain patches and creams.
Have you ever wondered, what ingredient in pain patches and creams causes that tingling sensation? Did you know that it’s the same ingredient found in most peppers that causes your mouth to feel hot? This ingredient is known as Capsaicin and it’s the key ingredient found in most patches and creams that relieve pain.
When you put capsaicin on your skin, you help block pain messages, the same messages that are sent to the brain to process that there is ongoing pain, to your nerves. It helps relive pain that’s due to surgery, muscle sprains and strains, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines and other severe headaches. Other research suggests it may help improve inflammation, redness, pain from psoriasis, and scaling. It may also help relieve pain from nerve damage due to shingles, HIV, peripheral diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia.
Now that you know the key ingredient used in most pain patches, gels, and creams, now you’re probably wondering, how can I get this ingredient naturally and without the other additives, chemicals, and side effects?
Capsaicin is an active compound in cayenne peppers. Usually, the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it has; however eating on hot peppers isn’t how anyone would want to alleviate pain nor is it fun. To avoid burning mouths everywhere, capsaicin can be extracted from peppers and consumed in less spicy forms.
But to understand how capsaicin works, you have to know the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain.” When you touch something hot, that immediate sense of sensation you feel is considered to be “good” pain. It is triggered instantly as a warning signal, whereas, “bad” pain is chronic, and arthritis sufferers know this pain all too well. The difference is that “good” pain signals travel to the brain instantaneously on neurotransmitters while “bad” pain signals travel significantly slower on neurotransmitters known as substance P. (The US National Library of Medicine has a more detailed breakdown here.)
Capsaicin depletes the neurotransmitter’s supply of the substance P hormone and without it, pain signals can’t be sent to the brain until more is produced. It is also popular for daytime relief because it doesn’t affect one’s ability to function and it doesn’t act as a sedative.