dried hot chili peppers, hot peppers

Hot peppers are a staple in our kitchen. We are always pleased when we read about their benefits. Often, research focuses on the topical application of this substance to ease pain (Chung & Campbell, Pharmaceuticals, Nov. 1, 2016), including peripheral neuropathy (Moon et al, Pain Physician, Feb. 2017) or burning mouth syndrome (Liu et al, Oral Diseases, March 1, 2017). Chili peppers in the diet may even have metabolic and cardiac advantages (Sun et al, Nutrients, April 25, 2016). But are there downsides to eating a lot of hot peppers?

Will Hot Peppers Ruin Your Taste Buds?

Q. I have been a spicy hot foodie for years. Tears and sweat, good!

However, some years ago I heard that routinely eating hot peppers could dull the taste buds over time, and I consequently reduced my heat level somewhat. Is there any research on this?

A. The research is clear that this is true if you are a young rat (Omelian et al, Chemosensory Perception, Sep. 2016).  Scientists exposed rat pups and adult rats to capsaicin (the essence of hot peppers) for 40 days. The adults had no changes in their taste buds, but the youngsters exposed to capsaicin had fewer taste buds when they matured.

We don’t know how well this research applies to humans. Your idea of moderation seems sensible, however.

A Better Microbiome?

Eating hot peppers appears to alter gut microbes in a favorable way, though the microbiome a person hosts to begin with has an impact on how beneficial this dietary exposure is (Kang et al, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dec. 2016).

If you are interested in the health benefits of chili peppers, turmeric, ginger and other spices, you may be interested in our recent book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.

Join Over 145,000 Subscribers
at The People's Pharmacy

Get our FREE daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show.

  1. Mike
    Greensboro, NC
    Reply

    I used to eat copious amounts of very hot habanero and jalapeno spiced foods. I began to notice I could not taste sweet or salt. Food was bland except for the spicy foods. I told my doctor about the taste problem. He inquired about my diet and I told him I was eating hot foods daily. He suggested abstaining for a few weeks to see if it helped. It took over a month but my taste returned. From this I determined that eating lots of fiery hot foods can indeed dull the taste buds

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.