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Dear Pharmacist,

You’ve mentioned that cayenne pepper is very healing for the stomach and can prevent ulcers. How can that be? I thought chili pepper would burn a hole in your gut faster than you could say, “hot chili pepper.” Not so?

Answer: Not so. While capsaicin—the heat-causing compound found in varying degrees in all chilies—would most likely light up an existing ulcer, it’s nevertheless been shown to destroy the ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria while also helping certain cells squirt out juices that buffer the gastrointestinal tract’s lining and prevent lesions from forming in the first place.

Pathogenic tummy bugs aren’t the only bad boys capsaicin likes to burn. In a recent study headed by Dr. Phillip Koeffler at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, it was discovered that capsaicin seduces prostate cancer cells into committing suicide—figuratively speaking, makes them blow their DNA brains out. More specifically, the research team found that in mice, prostate tumors treated with capsaicin wound up one-fifth the size of similar untreated tumors.

A Korean study showed that even the cells of the deadly skin cancer, melanoma, are likewise vulnerable to capsaicin’s deadly charms. So even though our little Ms. Capsaicin isn’t a very discriminating seductress, she’s apparently a really hot one! The pepper’s heat doesn’t come from the seeds, as is commonly assumed. It comes from the placenta, the white-colored strips lining the inside of the pod. The tiny sacs containing the hot stuff are produced there along with the seeds. These sacs (or vesicles) tend to burst easily, spewing their hell-raising elixir onto the totally innocent seeds. In the body, the heat-causing capsaicin numbs your sense of pain by blunting the effects of “Substance P,” a pain-causing chemical in the body.

Commercial capsaicin products are sold nationwide in patch form, gel, cream and roll-on. Even the powdered spice makes a great home remedy. I learned about it the hard way, after I cut my finger while chopping onions. I bled for hours! To stop bleeding, all you need is pure cayenne powder, look in your spice rack. Just sprinkle a tiny amount of it, onto a bandage or gauze and apply it to the bleeding cut. Bleeding should stop within a minute.

Also cool (or I guess I should say, hot) is that eating fresh peppers helps you lose weight. The non-exercise thermogenesis (heat production) caused by ingesting peppers can cause a moderately active 38 year-old man to burn up to 600 extra calories a day. That’s nearly twice the number of calories the same man would burn during an hour-long bout of lovemaking! So next time you’re looking to add a little spice to your life, make a date with a chili pepper.

Did You Know?

Laughing sparks weight loss. One to two hundred belly laughs a day is the equivalent of a high impact workout and burns off up to 500 calories.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)