Chillis may reduce blood pressure
Capsaicin, a compound found in chilli peppers, has been found to reduce high blood pressure in rats.
Earlier research on capsaicin-like molecules showed that they are involved in activating a pain pathway. This study is the first to investigate the long-term effects of capsaicin on blood pressure in animals.
Researchers studied the compound in rats with high blood pressure over seven months. They found that activation of a pore in cell membranes called the ‘TRPV1 channel’ reduced blood pressure. The channel is found in the lining of blood vessels, and once switched on it increases the production of nitric oxide – a gas known to protect blood vessels against inflammation.
Studies will be needed to see if the same effect happens in people. Scientists would need to work out the exact quantity of chilli a person would need to consume each day to lower blood pressure.
These studies highlight the need for more research into the function and potential uses of chilli compounds in medicine.