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May 4, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Chilli peppers hold secret to killing pain

Chilli peppers could hold the secret to killing pain, say scientists.

The “hot” substance found in the fiery fruit is already known to be a powerful pain reliever.

But now researchers have discovered the human body naturally releases a substance similar to capsaicin – which gives chillies their heat and causes the burning sensation – at sites of pain.

By blocking these molecules, scientists hope to create a new class of non-addictive painkillers that stop pain at its source.

They could even one day replace opioids such as morphine and aspirin-like drugs.

The chilli-like substance – produced by the body’s nerves – was identified by researchers at the University of Texas. Lead scientist Dr Kenneth Hargreaves said: “This is a major breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of pain and how to more effectively treat it.”

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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