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Spicy stimulation may help numb pain

11 Jan 2020

Stimulation of a spicy sensation confers analgesic benefit that persists after the taste stimulation ends, a study has found. However, eating spicy diet in the long term may hurt the basal pain sensitivity.

Researchers examined the analgesia effect caused by spicy stimulation, as well as the impact of spicy food intake on human basal pain sensitivity, in a total of 60 healthy individuals. They used placebo and sweet stimulation as reference interventions, with pressure and cold-pain thresholds measured prior to and after taste stimulation.

Compared with placebo stimulation, spicy stimulation led to a significant increase in both pressure and cold-pain thresholds (p<0.05). The thresholds remained amplified even when the taste stimulation residue was almost purged (p<0.05).

Meanwhile, individuals who consumed spicy food ≥3 vs <3 days/week had significantly lower thresholds for pressure (10.0 vs 12.7 kg/cm2; p<0.001) and cold-pain (4.4 vs 6.2 seconds; p=0.003).

In the validation population of 100 adults, the frequency of spicy-food intake was inversely associated with both pressure (p=0.013) and cold-pain (p=0.035) thresholds.

The current study was the first to explore the association of long-term spicy food intake with human pain sensitivity, and the findings may prove useful for future clinical pain intervention and individualized pain treatment, according to the researchers.

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