Chilli’s are famously bad for irritating IBS, notably for abdominal pain. Its true, chills aren’t for everybody. But, if you can stomach chills without upsetting your bowels, then you may be in for quite a surprise.
Whilst chills are spicy and irritating for some, strangely they may actually help improve gut health for others. The principal ingredient in Chilli’s is called Capsaicin, and is what supplies that fiery kick. Capsaicin works some real magic when ingested, lets find out what.
You have receptors throughout your GI tract that interact with Capsaicin – in the stomach and the intestines. When Capsaicin binds to these receptors, TRPV1 to be exact, it triggers the production of a special compound called Anandamide. If you smoke Cannabis, then you may know about Anandamide. It is one of your very own Cannabinoids, or Endocannabinoids which your body produces itself. It is similar in nature to the cannabinoids you find in Cannabis.
The production of Anandamide is a big deal because it interacts with the immune system to regulate inflammation. An up regulation in the production of Anandamide (from eating Chilli’s), oddly reduces inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract.
This was found in a recent study conducted on mice with Type 1 Diabetes. Researchers discovered that it was in fact Anandamide which effectively reduced levels of inflammation, and found the same gut-calming results when anandamide was given directly. The anti-inflammatory effects of Anandamide are remarkable. These effects proliferate throughout the gut, the stomach, the pancreas and even the oesophagus.
Inflammation and Gut Health
Lowering levels of inflammation in the gut is a big deal when talking about an irritable bowel. Chronic, low grade inflammation is a well established cause (amongst others) of IBS. Finding ways to reduce this inflammation is an important step in starting to heal an inflamed and damaged gut.
Interestingly, smoking or ingesting Marijuana actually produces similar affects to the Anandamide produced from Capsaicin. These cannabinoids also reduce inflammation, ease bloating and muscle spasms and even calm stress in certain areas of the brain, calming the gut.
Despite what the science says, stick to what your body tells you – that is the best indicator of what is doing you good, or harm. If you are unsure, try an elimination diet, or use a food diary, making sure that no other triggers account for potential symptoms. If you can stomach a Chilli without complication then why not, its a staple in the diet of many cultures who experience great health. Now, we may know why.