Diabetes Self-Management Articles

These articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the most basic aspects of diabetes care to the nitty-gritty specifics.

Links not loading properly?

Some of our pages use Portable Document Format (PDF) files, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download Acrobat Reader for free, visit www.adobe.com.

Sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT! Enter your e-mail below.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes

Links to help you learn more about diabetes.

Ask a diabetes expert
Other diabetes resources
Browse article topics

 

Capsaicin

A chemical that may help relieve chronic pain. Capsaicin is found in capsicum peppers, which include cayenne peppers, red peppers, African chilies, and tabasco peppers. It is capsaicin that gives these chili peppers their bite.

Capsaicin appears to relieve pain by stimulating the release of substance P, a chemical transmitter of pain, from nerve terminals. Initially, the release of substance P causes pain (or an exciting kick in the tastebuds), but eventually the nerve terminals become depleted of substance P, leading to loss of the pain sensation (and numb lips in lovers of Thai and Indian food). This painlessness generally lasts as long as capsaicin is present and depleting substance P from the nerves. Substance P is not the sole transmitter of pain, however, so capsaicin may only be effective in certain types of pain.

In the form of cayenne peppers, capsaicin has been used with variable success in folk medicine since the 1800’s for such diverse conditions as colds, allergies, arthritis, and hemorrhoids. It is available in the form of over-the-counter topical salves, sold under the brand names ArthriCare and Zostrix, among others, which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating chronic pain. Although there have not been large, controlled clinical trials proving the effectiveness of these salves, they at least appear useful in relieving pain from shingles, trigeminal neuralgia (a nerve disorder that causes facial pain), arthritis, and painful diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage).

Capsaicin’s success in relieving pain from diabetic neuropathy is highly variable: Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t, and occasionally it actually makes the pain worse. If you have painful diabetic neuropathy, one of these salves may help relieve the pain, but it is a good idea to consult your doctor before trying it.

 

 

More articles on Diabetes Definitions

 

 


Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

 

 

Missouri-Based Foot Pain Study
If you are in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, and dealing with foot pain from diabetes, then... Blog

Self-Care for Pain
Last week I wrote about all the different medicines available to treat chronic pain. But there... Blog

Drugs for Diabetes Pain
Pain researcher Rebecca Sudore, MD, says, "Adults living with Type 2 diabetes are suffering... Blog

I have low vision. What are some techniques I can use for my daily foot examination? Get tip


Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 2: Technique

What Stress Is Doing to Your Brain

Diabetic Cooking: The Summer Issue

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions