Do you want an alternative to traditional pain medications like like Tylenol and Advil? Maybe you’ve experienced side effects when using these drugs, or perhaps you feel more comfortable putting natural substances in your body. It could even be that you dislike buying these remedies and putting money in Big Pharma’s pocket. Could a simple substance found in cayenne pepper be the alternative you’re looking for?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are widely used for pain relief. Ibuprofen is among the most popular of these drugs. It’s sold under the brand names Motrin, Advil and Nurofen, to name a few. Its side effects can include gastrointestinal bleeding, problems with blood coagulation, stomach upset, liver and kidney problems, and hypertension. Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is another analgesic with similar adverse effects when taken in heavy doses: it can cause liver and kidney damage as well as stomach bleeding.
Studies have found that capsaicin, which is found in cayenne pepper, can help relieve headaches when applied topically, rather than taken orally as an analgesic or NSAID would be. A New York Times article on clinical capsaicin research said the substance works by “depleting Substance P, a neurotransmitter that helps transmit pain impulses.” In one study, patients who suffered from cluster headaches applied a diluted capsaicin solution to the inside of their noses for a week. Another group of patients received a placebo. Results indicated that the first group’s headaches decreased in severity, while the placebo group’s headaches remained unchanged.
Headache-relieving nasal spray containing capsaicin is available from health-food stores and online. It’s said to be good for sinus congestion as well. Capsaicin is also available in cream form: rather than rubbing it into your skin, you put it into your nose for headache relief.