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June 9, 1989

Peppers, Capsaicin, and the Gastric Mucosa-Reply

JAMA. 1989;261(22):3244-3245. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420220058021

In Reply. —  Dr Holzer failed to find gastric mucosal injury after local administration of pure capsaicin to rats. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers, but capsaicin is not the same as peppers. For example, there is evidence that the direct administration of red peppers in the stomach is associated with mucosal damage, as evidenced by bleeding and increased exfoliation of surface cells. In contrast, when jalapeño peppers are administered with food there is no visible damage.We previously reported "that the long term result of daily pepper administration is unknown. Whether spices have a detrimental effect, a beneficial effect (inducing an adaptive cytotective response) or no significant long term effect on the gastric mucosa is unknown and deserves further study." Spicy food seems safe. We found no gastric mucosal abnormalities after ingestion of highly spiced foods,1 and previous studies have shown that the administration of large