capsaicin pain physicians denver co


Capsaicin is a compound that is found in chili peppers. It is the chemical that is responsible for making peppers taste hot. Capsaicin binds to the sensory receptors of the body that perceive pain. These receptors are known as nociceptors. When capsaicin binds to a nociceptor, it activates this sensory receptor and triggers the sensory neurons to carry signals of pain to the spinal cord and brain. Thus, initial contact with capsaicin leads to sensations of burning, pricking, or even itching. When capsaicin is applied repeatedly or applied in very high concentrations, however, these nociceptors essentially become overwhelmed and the neurons responsible for transmitting pain information are depleted of neurotransmitters. This impedes the function of these sensory neurons in transmitting pain information, thus, causing the compound to have the opposite effect on the sensory system. In other words, repeated exposure to capsaicin or exposure to high concentrations of capsaicin can lead to reductions in pain sensations by temporarily inhibiting the functioning of the sensory neurons.