Doctor's Note

If you missed Wednesday’s video of the day Hot Sauce in the Nose for Cluster Headaches?, it explains how hot pepper compounds work by depleting pain fibers of their substance P.

I've covered some of the long-term consequences of food poisoning in videos such as Poultry and Paralysis, Fecal Bacteria Survey, and Amnesic Seafood Poisoning. The meat industry is all over it, though! Check out Viral Meat Spray and Maggot Meat Spray.

Why is it legal to sell meat tainted with our leading foodborne killer? Find out in Salmonella in Chicken & Turkey: Deadly But Not Illegal.

I also explore another natural treatment for IBS in Kiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Cayenne for Irritable Bowel.

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  • Dr. D

    This is remarkable! Where can one obtain red pepper powder pills?

  • Kathy

    Dr. Greger, Does this treatment help Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis?

    • Kevin

      I’m a long-time UC sufferer, Kathy, and I’ve read about and tried a LOT of things. I tried cayenne once while in full disease and it turned out to be a bad idea. I had one doctor, who was actually one of the most open-minded and knowledgeable I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with, tell me to strictly avoid all chiles. Turns out he was right, at least when in active disease. My advice: If you’re bleeding, avoid the spice. I’ve learned the hard way that you’re just a special case with active disease and what’s normally healthy is not necessarily so then. Soft, easily digested foods are essential to healing your inflamed gut, and that needs to be your top priority!

      I will tell you that a plant-based diet seems to have had the most positive effect among the things I’ve tried. I got the idea from that Japanese study discussed on this site (Thanks, Doc!). However, you really need to watch the fiber when in active disease. I find that I have to be very cautious with legumes, brown(red, or black) rice, and nuts or seeds or my system stays irritated and I don’t heal. If you haven’t done so, try eating a strict plant-based diet for about a week with a foundation of potatoes (not fried), noodles and white rice with enough cooked veggies and non-seeded fruit to get some good nutrition and see how it works for you. It was hard to get my mind around eating mostly foods with a high glycemic index and I seem to feel worse for it in some respects, but it helped me heal. When you’re better, slowly start adding whole grains, nuts, etc. to the point you can tolerate them.

      Another biggie for me, even if you don’t feel like it, exercise every day!

      Good luck!

      • Orly

        Kevin, I have been in remission with UC for over 10 years now. I was very very sick.what helped me was Fenugreek. I used to soak the seeds and drink the water, all day. Now I just drink it 1st thing in the morning. I hope hat helps.

        • Kevin

          That’s just crazy enough to work. I think I’m gonna try it, Orly.

        • abstract

          How long do u soak them for? also, how many teaspoon do u use? do u grind them etc?

          • Orly

            Soak for about two hrs, for one tblsp add 12 oz of hot water, no need to grind and you can eat the seeds, they get the texture of sunflower seeds, when ready to drink, add more hot water1/4 cup and drink.if you have leftover seeds, add a little more water to drink later.

          • abstract

            Thanks much

      • LynnCS

        The nice thing about eating cooked white (or sweet) potatoes is that you’re getting a lot…a lot…of the right kind of fibers, starches, and nutrients, which are not harsh, but still provide the necessary vehicle to build up the probiotics/good bacteria, needed to fill the intesine and yet not irritate. White rice also works for me, though not as nutritionally good, but no noodles or any other flour products. I often don’t eat a lot of beans when I am in a flare, but peas are ok. Peas are a real super food for us. Stick with alkaline creating foods. Don’t know what you mean by non seeded fruit, but maybe non pitted fruits might be what you’re talking about, like peaches etc. Can’t eat them. Oranges are acid going in, but result in an alkaline effect on the body…really excellent. Eating baby greens with an orange squeezed over it, cut up the flesh and enjoy it in the salad too. A great healthy (for the gut) is the wonderful sweet onion out now. No oil at all. Use a few slices of avocado, but absolutely no oil….at all. U can live well on these items and get all you need. You can eat only one thing at a time tio do an elimination type investigation. Put what you eat into the site “cronometer.” It will tell you what nutrients you are getting…and log onto the discussion panel of Dr. McDougall’s web site. Many others are dealing with your issues and worse. I get lots of help ther and you’ll see Dr. Greger there too. This is a lifetime of help you (and I) need, not a simple answer.

        Don’t worry about the “Glycemic” levels of the vegetables. These are the natural foods for us humans. Talk to JeffN, RD, who has a forum on the disscussion forums. He is been dealing with all these issues for years. Come on over. See you there. Lynn

        • Kevin

          By seeded fruits I mean strawberries, blackberries, etc. I’m curious, do noodles make you ill or is it just the idea of wheat gluten you’re against?

      • Lyudmyla Sharma

        whole grain fiber is like a sandpaper for the one-cell-layer thin intestinal wall, see if you are better off avoiding grains while in acute phase. A book 80/10/10 is a good read if you what to “eat” your way out of IBS and Chron’s on plant-based diet. Recently Dr Campbell – the author of China Study names 80/10/10 as the healthiest diet out there

      • I take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in my smoothie a day. I found that my body adapted to being able to accept the cayenne pepper by starting of with a little of it and building in quantity over time. Some people do have adverse reactions to the solanine compound it contains, which is the reason some people have issues with cayenne and other nightshades.

    • Justme

      If you have a bleeding ulcer do not use it. But if it is not bleeding it could help. My doc said if it is not bothering me do it. It has helped my gastric problems. But I also just sprinkle some on my foods. Like eggs , or put a little in any dish it won’t make much of a taste change. I won’t do the pills as I don’t want to much and plus I believe natural is best. Backing soda may help you. A tbsp in a glass of water ever day. Studies have also shown it can help keep you from getting cancer. By raising your ph levels.

    • Justme

      You can also try earl grey tea. Which is said to help with digestive issues.

  • bart

    Interesting. So it is used as a pain suppressor? Does that mean that the symptoms may have been treated but not the cause? Or have I missed something in the video.
    Apart from that, brilliant website, very interesting material. Is there a section where we can read all the studies that you quote? To see what kind of value these studies have, because not every study is as thorough as it should, isn’t it.

    Thank you for your answer.

    • Veganrunner

      Look above under Sourses cited.

      Pain is an interesting thing. It must work more as a desensitizer.

      • bart

        oh great, I hadn’t noticed the sources section. Thanx for pointing me in the right direction, Veganrunner.

  • Rodica

    This article rocked. Pure snuff-y adult entertainment lol

  • david

    Where does one find enteric-coated Red Pepper pills?

    • BenJ

      If you can’t find them (I couldn’t) have them made up by your nearest compounding pharmacist. That’s what I ended up doing.

  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    Again a very interesting video and presented with great humor! NF is very informative – also for healthprofessionals. (Mostly) interesting comments from great people in the comment forum.

  • Jonathan

    Where can one buy enteric-coated red pepper (cayenne) pills/caps?

    • JackZ

      Search for “Cayenne” or “Capsicum” at and you’ll find a number of options.

      • Jonathan

        I searched as you suggested and find none that are enteric-coated. Please share with me the specifics of the product(s) you have found.

  • Rachel

    I suggested this to a close friend. He had these symptoms exactly. Onset IBS symptoms after food poisoning and could not eat corn products. After a week of taking cayenne his is symptom free. He says, “I am completely healed.” Thanks Dr. Greger!!!! I will try it for my own bowel issues.

    • Jonathan

      Please let me know where your friend purchased enteric-coated cayenne pills/caps. I find many sources for cayenne but none are enteric-coated. Thanks.

    • BenJ

      I would be grateful if you could let us know how much cayenne your friend took, in what form, and how often?

  • nodelord

    care to weigh on this?…

    And here’s a tip from our good friend Chris Kresser:

    “For those of you with digestive issues, including IBS, constipation, diarrhea and acid reflux: eat fewer vegetables.”

    Yep, that’s right. He said fewer vegetables.

    • Veggie Eric

      I’m not sure many here would agree with you… This site promotes whole foods ‘plant based vegan’ diets devoid of animal products to heal the body. Chris Kresser is certainly not a friend of this site…He is one of those Paleo hacks looking to cash in on the public’s ignorance about the dangers of animal food consumption. The article you linked to promotes eating beef liver and other animal products again not supported by this site. Low-carb Paleo diets are a fad like Atkins and the sooner they go away the better.

      check it out ~~>

      a few more…

      • nodelord

        Agreed, not necessarily my point of view ether. I should have put it in quotations. But still someone is making this recommendation based some success.
        I have been PBWF for 2 yr but I have no commitment to anything other than what is optimum for me, whatever that may be.

      • nodelord

        I watched those video and many more. Critics say that facts are cherry picked to promote an animal friendly diet. The first video states the problem with animal products is not the fat nor the protein but the endotoxins. See how the other side responds to this problem.

        • Veggie Eric

          Hi Nodelord, thank you fo the reply. I’m curious as to why you are following a plant based diet yet arguing against it at the same time? That makes no sense… So instead of linking to paleo sites how about we discuss the wonderful positives of being plant based and lets leave the paleo stuff for the paleo sites. So what do you like about your plant based diet so far after 2 years? Can you tell us what you are eating these days? I’d like to hear some positive things about what made you switch to plant based? and congratulations for making the switch.

          • nodelord

            You are confusing me with the sources of info that I found. I find, that in many cases the truth is hard to find, as the evidence providers offer findings with some measure of bias. I am constantly looking at this from as many angles I can find. So far I haven’t found strong evidence to change to anything but a PBWF diet. My current diet is much like a GF Dr. McDougall diet.

            There is a crazy amount of variables and permutations when it comes to matching an individual with their optimum diet.

            Here is something that may be of some interest..

  • BenJ

    Dr Greger – how can someone with IBS including gastritis, which would be irritated further by taking cayenne pepper capsules take advantage of this possible solution? Wouldn’t this make the inflammation worse?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi BenJ. What did the study say? Did it mention how and where the enteric coated caps “dissolved”? We would not know anymore information than the researchers who conducted the study. You make a good point, as it seems logical that someone with stomach sensitivity should be cautious of hot peppers but interestingly this study proved the opposite. Plus, the alternative is taking drugs for chronic dyspepsia, which will also have side effects. Really up to the person whether or not they’d want to try red pepper or medication, but how neat that simply taking red pepper is an option!

    • Noe Marcial

      It is a very good question, also if you eat cayenne peper, (one and half tea spon a day) i wonder how react the stomach to it. it may not affect to much the gastric acid ad in this case it is a great solution for the intestines… will be good to see the impact of red pepper in the stomach.

  • handy


  • DrpatDDS

    Had my gall bladder removed 5 1/2 years ago. Have had difficulty with digestion ever since, and not just fatty foods. One big no-no for me is spicy food. Through a process of elimination I’ve been told that it could be IBS that is causing my symptoms. How would I be able to try cayenne pepper capsules for my IBS if spices are irritating for me?

    • RC Hoefs

      I think it is important to realize that GMO foods (such as non organic soy and corn, wheat, etc.) can cause these symptoms too. Make sure your good is non GMO. For more info see Jeffrey Smith (also has books).

  • Marianna

    Thank you for this video! I have a question on IBS : why do they say that starch is bad for people with IBS.
    Thank you very much.

  • Jerry LA

    I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Trigger foods any hot spice causes increased bowel muscle activity and diarrhea. Cayenne pepper would really get my bowel moving and chain me to the toilet. Maybe hot pepper is for someone with constipation IBS, not me. There are likely some other trigger foods which may have a mild diarrhea; I’m experimenting. BTW, 80 year old, largely vegan, exercise.

  • Jerry LA

    I’ve got IBS-Diarrhea which was provoked by hot spices example Salsa, Mexican foods, … and am now even sensitive to black pepper. I’m very dubious about trying red pepper ……