Doctor's Note

What else do peppers do? Check out these videos:
Which Vegetable Binds Bile Best?
Hot Sauce in the Nose for Cluster Headaches?
Cayenne Pepper for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Indigestion

And check out my other videos on chili peppers

For more context, also see my associated blog post: Soy milk: shake it up!

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  • I’ve been growing and eating these things for years. Their healthfulness is no secret. Vitamin C and Capsicum are the bomb! Who knows what else they contain that has not been quantified? This years crop only included Jalapenos, but in previous years, I’ve had some awesome Habaneros, hot enough to burn your socks off! Mixing them with tomatoes in salsa is a winning combo. “I eat local because I can”- says one of my T-shirts.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Whoa–habaneros are too rich for my blood! But you’re absolutely right about the myriad phytonutrient compounds. And in fact a new study published last month found that they varied widely between peppers so I like your multi-pepper strategy. The more the better!

  • maybush1

    However, I’ve read just the opposite in some instances. Other research has shown strong connections between gastric and skin cancers and chili peppers and capcaicin. See, for example this research:

    Dr. Greger, can you help in clearing up this confusion and debate? Thanks.

  • maybush1

    Hi Dr. Greger and thanks for the information. I have a question, however.

    In some instances I’ve read about deleterious results (gastric and skin cancers) from capsaicin and hot peppers. See, for example this research:

    Dr. Greger, can you help in clearing up this confusion and debate? Thank you much and keep up the great work!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I’m so glad you brought that up Maybush! The sciencedaily piece you mentioned just appears to deal with rodents, so you may not want to share any salsa your pet mouse but as a physician rather than veterinarian I have a bias towards human data. The Mexico study you mention did certainly give the medical community pause (when it was performed 20 years ago) but later studies (including data suggesting a cancer-fighting effect) led the most recent reviewers of the subject to conclude chili peppers are safe.

  • maybush1

    Great news and great points! Thanks again Dr. Greger.

  • mircea

    hi, dr Gregger, i’m from romania and i have some questions about stomach related issues.. what about gastritis,  acid reflux, helicobacter pylori cure an prevention with
    a plant base diet ? I’m a vegan and i have this problem with my stomach, exception made helicobacter pylori. (I got rid of helicobacter pylori after I began to eat a plant base diet). I need some suggestions on what to eat or maybe some legumes and fruits that reduce gastric acid. thank you very much. (sorry for my bad english)

    •  Hi Mircea, GI problems are common among folks eating meat, dairy and eggs. Many problems do get better by going on a plant based diet. There are however some plants that can cause problems and of course sometimes when patients switch to a plantbased diet it takes awhile for their stomach and bowels to adjust. I would read the February 2002 McDougall newsletter the link is.. which is an excellent resource on symptoms relating to the upper gastrointestinal tract. If that doesn’t do it you may be sensitive to specific foods which can be a little difficult to figure out. Dr. McDougall wrote another newsletter for patients who are having trouble figuring out various triggers see his December 2002 newsletter the link is… If your symptoms don’t resolve or progressively get worse you should seek medical care and it is always prudent to work with your physicians. There are other video relating to Esophageal health which might be helpful. Good luck.

  • mircea

    Thanks for the reply Mr. Don Forrester. I appreciate it very much !!

  • Katie

    I’d love your insight into nightshades and it’s affect on rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t know to actually avoid them as I’ve been told or if they really aren’t so harmful, as I am a vegan and don’t eat meat, eggs, or dairy. Thank you!

  • Ronald Chavin

    Several studies say that the regular consumption of spicy-hot capsicum peppers (including jalapeno, serrano, habanero, cayenne, chili, tabasco, chipotle, anaheim, pepperoncini, pimientos, and yellow wax/banana peppers, etc.) will approximately double a person’s risk of developing both stomach cancer and liver cancer:

    Chili powder, cayenne powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and other powdered or dried peppers very frequently contain cancer-causing nitrosamines, aflatoxins, and ochratoxins. However, people who regularly consume fresh garlic, fresh onions, and/or fresh green onions to “spice up” their food will enjoy about a 50% reduction in their overall cancer risk. My best guess is that eating sweet bell peppers is perfectly safe [despite high pesticide residues] and that they will almost certainly help in slightly lowering our cancer risk:

    In the case of kimchee (pickled cabbage), most of the increased cancer risk can be blamed on the nitrosamines and only part of the increased cancer risk can be blamed on the red pepper flakes:

  • Mark

    Hi Doc, mind if I ask you which software do you use for these videos? They’re very nice and professional!


  • Roberta Peck

    I have read that there is a substance in nightshades (peppers,eggplant,potatoes and tomatoes which inhibits healthy cartilage formation,suggesting those with arthritis should avoid those vegitables. what does the preponderance of research reveal,fact?or fiction?

  • Kay

    I can testify to the healing powers of chili peppers. Just six months ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and had a nasty case of gastritis, colitis, and multiple small bowel ulcers. Inflammation central. I started taking about one tablespoon worth of cayenne chili pepper a day, and noticed a considerable decline in the amount of pain I was experiencing, which was great! I had repeat scopes done a couple of weeks ago, and all of the tissue looked pink and beautiful. The gastritis is completely gone, the colitis is completely gone, and more than half of the ulcers have healed (some still remain, but they look much much better than they did). All of this was done without pharmaceuticals.

    Going against medical advice is always a gamble since we’re taught to put our faith in doctors because they know what’s best. In my experiences, I’ve found intuition and focusing on nutrition to be more helpful than western medicine.

  • matt

    I remember type 1 diabetic rat i think it was had capsaicin injected into its pancreatic artery and reversed its diabetes and 2 years later still diabetes free! How is that for the healing power of nature :P

  • Rilene Small

    Hi Dr do u know this small pepper I know it as bird pepper I heard if good for the body is it true

  • Shaun Gupta

    I’m curious as to your thoughts as to these studies, both newer than the oldest Mexican study you cite.
    A few months ago I started taking daily cayenne (whole herb from GNC – ~2,000 mg/day [max the bottle suggests is 3,000), mainly to help with blood pressure concerns (which worked!), but also as a natural blood thinner, cardiovascular supporter, metabolism booster, etc. However, some of the stomach cancer articles and concerns I saw made me discontinue it (though I still eat a healthy amount of spicy food and don’t plan to ever give that up). Would love to know if your opinion at this time is that current science supports its safety as a supplement, or if you think people should stick with keeping it part of diet but continue abstaining in supplementary form. Thanks!

  • Steveooooo

    Hi All/ Michael! I have been reading articles that claim that Capsicum is technically a neurotoxin and that it will activate a response from the adrenal glands. What are your thoughts on this? Do the benefits of chillis outweigh this?


  • Girl with hives

    Chili peppers give me hives. I have had chronic hives for over 5 years. Still trying to figure out if bell peppers are a trigger. Am pretty satisfied that Eggplant is a trigger and maybe canned tomatoes as it seems i can’t pin triggers on fresh tomatoes. I have dramatically cut back on all meat, eggs, fish and dairy and do see an improvement. It is difficult to switch to a whole food plant based diet but am getting better all the time.

    • Girl with hives

      Oh forgot to mention, the pic is from stupidly eating a few baby back ribs. I no longer care for pork.

      • Ed

        Eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes? Sounds like you might have a problem with nightshade plants?

        • hiveygirl

          Ed, I have been doing my best to avoid all the nightshades now. It does seem to help. My bad foods list seems to grow and grow. Alcohol, all meats, dairy, nightshades. My boyfriend is a foodie and likes to go out a lot. I find it very difficult to avoid all my bad foods when we go out. Bell peppers, tomatoes and potatoes or some cheese is everywhere. Even if I stick to the salad or veggie section of a menu, I more often than not find there is nothing I can eat. The Ceasar salad with no dressing (egg), no parmesan is really a dry romaine lettuce bowl. I am the big kill joy in this family.

  • Bruce Cropley

    I’m curious about how healthy chilli is when it is cooked, considering that capsicum is best uncooked. Any comments? Thanks :)

  • Benedetta Simeone

    Hello! May be an off-topic: I was actually looking for some article or video about solanine in
    nightshades. The question is: shall we eat nightshades because of all their goodness – antioxidants etc – or shall we avoid them because of their containing solanine?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Only some will react to nightshades and in my experience it’s pretty rare. Some folks only react to certain foods like tomatoes, but not peppers (or vice verse). It really depends on the individual, but yes, in your words “because of all their goodness – antioxidants etc” I definitely recommend veggies in the nightshade family, so long as they are not causing pain or allergic reactions.

  • Any more recent research on this topic?

  • Protein Deficient

    What about chili powderspice?

    Are they good or bad?

    There must be huge different between chili powder to natural chili i assume…