What is Capsaicin?
Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that makes them hot. It is used topically for temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscle and joint associated with arthritis, backache, and strains.
Capsaicin used on the body causes a sensation of heat that activates certain nerve cells. With regular use of capsaicin, this heating effect reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that acts as a pain messenger in the body.
How does it work?
It drives chemical interactions with sensory neurons by binding to the vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (TRPV1). TRPV1 is a calcium ion channel-type receptor and the function of TRPV1 is detection and regulation of body temperature. Agonists such as capsaicin activate TRPV1 and upon prolonged application, cause TRPV1 activity to decrease (desensitization). This leads to alleviation of pain via the subsequent decrease in the TRPV1 mediated release of inflammatory molecules following exposures to stimuli.
It may take up to 2 weeks of using capsaicin regularly before symptoms improve. For best results, keep using as directed. Pain relief should occur gradually as the substance P in the body is decreased in the nerve cells.
Capsaicin can cause a warming (even burning) sensation wherever it is applied. This sensation is usually mild and should gradually lessen over time with continued regular use of the medicine.
If the burning sensation is painful or causes significant discomfort, wash the treated skin area with soap and cool water. Get medical attention if you have severe burning, pain, swelling, or blistering.