Capsaicin is a colorless crystalline compound produced by chili peppers that contributes a large part of their characteristic spiciness. One of six capsaicinoid compounds found in the peppers, capsaicin is considered the most potent, and is widely known for its mouth burning and eye watering effects. Yet, recent research reveals that this phytochemical is not only capable of producing culinary delights (or nightmares, depending on one’s penchant for spicy foods), but may also provide significant health benefits to those that consume it. The antimicrobial properties of capsaicin, for instance, have been shown to help those suffering from stomach ulcers, although the traditional belief was that eating peppers could cause further intestinal damage. Capsaicin also aids in the digestive process, can be utilized as a topical painkiller, and shows potential as a cancer-fighting agent.

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