Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Capsaicin is the perfect complement to cannabis if you're looking to target sore muscles and reduce inflammation. It’s found in every part of the pepper except for the seed, although the highest concentration of capsaicin is found in the inner wall where the seeds attach. Capsaicin was discovered and extracted by Christian Friedrich Bucholz in 1816, just two short years before his death. What he had extracted was rather impure, so further work by John Clough Thresh and finally Karl Micko led to isolating and extracting the compound in pure form. The name itself comes from the genus of nightshade flowering plants from which it was originally extracted (Capsicum).
Capsaicin works by first stimulating and then decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the body. To be precise, it's a neuropeptide-active agent that affects the synthesis, storage, transport, and release of substance P, which is believed to be the principal chemical mediator of pain impulses from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system. As a result, it renders skin and joints insensitive to pain by depleting and preventing reaccumulation of substance P in peripheral sensory neurons. With the depletion of substance P in the nerve endings, local pain impulses cannot be transmitted to the brain. In other words, capsaicin interrupts neurotransmitters from sending pain signals to your brain.
One of the most unique properties of capsaicin is that it causes a warm, soothing sensation when applied topically. It does this by binding to a vanilloid receptor known as TRPV1, which is signaled by heat and also receives signals when cells in the body are physically burned or injured. Once the capsaicin molecule has bound to the TRPV1 receptor, the brain is signaled that a hot or burning event has occurred and, in turn, causes a mild inflammatory reaction meant to repair the cells affected.
While not everyone responds to capsaicin, it's proven itself as a powerful tool in pain management. Just remember, a little goes a long way with this fiery compound.