Chilli peppers could hold the secret to killing pain, say scientists.
The “hot” substance found in the fiery fruit is already known to be a powerful pain reliever.
But now researchers have discovered the human body naturally releases a substance similar to capsaicin – which gives chillies their heat and causes the burning sensation – at sites of pain.
By blocking these molecules, scientists hope to create a new class of non-addictive painkillers that stop pain at its source.
They could even one day replace opioids such as morphine and aspirin-like drugs.
The chilli-like substance – produced by the body’s nerves – was identified by researchers at the University of Texas. Lead scientist Dr Kenneth Hargreaves said: “This is a major breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of pain and how to more effectively treat it.”
The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.