Capsaicin’s Effects on the Body

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The effects of capsaicin on the human body are many and complex. As I write in 2004, the scorecard is fairly positive. Capsaicin does not appear to increase the risk of cancer or stomach ulcers. It affects the body’s temperature regulation, making us feel hotter than we actually are, and inducing cooling mechanisms (sweating, increased blood flow in the skin). It increases the body’s metabolic rate, so that we burn more energy (and therefore retain less in storage as fat). It may trigger brain signals that make us feel less hungry and more satiated. In sum, it may encourage us to eat less of the meal it’s in, and to burn more of the calories that we do eat.