The effects of capsaicin on reflux, gastric emptying and dyspepsia


Sheila Rodriguez-Stanley The Oklahoma Foundation for Digestive Research, 711 Stanton L. Young Blvd, Suite 619, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA. E-mail:



To evaluate capsaicin’s effects on heartburn, dyspepsia, gastric acidity and emptying, and gastro-oesophageal reflux, and to test the hypothesis that capsaicin induces heartburn and exacerbates symptoms by sensitizing the oesophagus.


Eleven heartburn sufferers underwent two separate pH monitoring sessions and assessments of gastric emptying (13C-octanoic acid breath test), heartburn and dyspepsia (100 mm VAS) after a non-irritant meal. The meal consisted of a sausage biscuit with egg, cheese and 30 g raw onion, 8 oz chocolate milk and a peppermint patty. Thirty minutes prior to meal consumption, subjects were administered a placebo capsule. On visit 1, subjects consumed the meal containing 100 μl 13C-octanoic acid cooked in the egg, over 15 min. On visit 2, subjects consumed the meal plus 5 mg capsaicin in gelatin capsules.


Oesophageal and gastric pH profiles and gastric emptying were not different between meals. Capsaicin did not alter mean heartburn and dyspepsia scores (> 0.05), but significantly decreased time to peak heartburn (120 min vs. 247 min; < 0.003). Time to peak dyspepsia was not altered by capsaicin (> 0.05).


Capsaicin enhances noxious postprandial heartburn, presumably by direct effects on sensory neurons.