Capsaicin has the ability to unmask cancerous tumors
Tumor cells have a mucus (fibrin) coating that is designed to protect them from the body’s immune system. This mucus coating works as a cloaking mechanism that prevents cancerous cells from being recognized by the immune system’s white blood cells thus making them immune to attack by natural killer cells. The sticky fibrin coating on cancerous cells is about 15 times thicker than the fibrin that surrounds healthy cells. Hot peppers and other similarly “hot” substances such as ginger, horseradish, white onions, and garlic along with protein dissolving enzymes have the ability to dissolve this mucus layer and make the tumors visible to the immune system.
Scientists at Nottingham University have found that capsaicin has the ability to trigger cancer cell death.
Dr Timothy Bates discovered that when capsiacin is applied to cancerous cells it has the ability to attack the energy production mechanism within the cell and this triggers apoptosis (or cell death). For this study, capsaicin was tested on cultures of human lung cancer cells and on pancreatic cancer cells which led Dr Bates to state: “these compounds attack the very heart of the tumor cells, we believe that we have in effect discovered a fundamental ‘Achilles heel’ for all cancers.” When the team applied the compound to human lung cancer cells, which is considered to be the gold standard test for anti-cancer drugs, it produced a “startling rate of cell death.” A similar rate was recorded on pancreatic cancer cells. The researchers said: “These results are highly significant as pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat and has a five-year survival rate of less than one per cent.”
Experiments by the Nottingham team found that apoptosis only occurred in cancerous cells and did not have any negative effects on the surrounding healthy cells. He states, “The biochemistry of the mitochondria in cancer cells is very different from that in normal cells and this is an innate selective vulnerability of cancer cells.” Dr Bates also stated, “Capsaicin, for example, is already found in treatments for muscle strain and psoriasis – which raises the question of whether an adapted topical treatment could be used to treat certain types of skin cancer. He adds, “It’s also possible that cancer patients or those at risk of developing cancer could be advised to eat a diet which is richer in spicy foods to help treat or prevent the disease.”
Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-associated adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is resistant to conventional chemotherapy. Researchers examined the in vitro effects of capsaicin, the principal ingredients of red pepper, on three ATL cell lines and found that capsaicin treatment inhibited the growth of ATL cells both in dose- and time-dependent manner. The inhibitory effect was mainly due to the induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Read more.
The experiments above reveal that pepper extracts can kill cancer cells that were grown in the laboratory or in mice, yet these compounds have not been tested with human trials. Since capsaicin and other vanilloids are already found to varying degrees in our diets, this provides proof that they are safe for consumption. You can find a variety of products including capsules and tinctures that contain capsaicin at health food stores or online.
Capsaicin for pain management
Capsaicin is a common ingredient that is found in certain brands of topical pain relief creams because of its pain relieving capabilities. This occurs by blocking a chemical in your body called substance P, which carries pain messages to your brain. Without substance P, the pain signals can no longer be transmitted allowing you to feel relief. Capsaicin has a temporary effect on substance P so repeated application is needed in order to maintain pain relief. You can find several topical creams that contain capsaicin already in the marketplace.
Another product that contains capsaicin is the homeopathic remedy Sinus Buster which is a nasal spray. This product was originally designed to help improve nasal congestion and to quickly relieve sinus symptoms and pain, but when you inhale sinus buster via the nasal passage, the capsaicin is able to quickly enter the blood stream via the mucus membranes giving it the ability to act as a natural pain killer. The spray contains capsaicin that is derived from cayenne peppers, as well as other natural ingredients and is available online and at your local pharmacy.
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