For many of us dealing with heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), spicy food is a thing of the past for most of us because it triggers the acid and burping. There are exceptions of course, which I’m grateful from an extra pinch of ground pepper to some wasabi paste, but nothing quite beats the heat chili peppers bring.
However, a 2016 study titled “Influence of capsaicin infusion on secondary peristalsis in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.” by Yi et. al., shows that repeated intake of capsaicin / chili peppers may help reverse the effect of heartburn, as far as people who have triggers with chili peppers are concerned.
According to the said study, people who ate a meal with chili peppers makes the symptoms flare up at the first instance, but repeated exposure to capsaicin may reverse the effects of heartburn. Yet despite these findings, there are still a number of people who complain that consuming chili in any form makes their reflux symptoms flare up. When it comes to GERD, there’s no really telling what sets one’s symptoms without a little carefully thought out trial-and-error.
Before one hits the pickled jalapeños, one has to keep in mind that mild chili peppers are the ones best suited for consumption for most people, with or without reflux. In fact some of the hottest peppers can even give chefs and cooks slight burns just from touch.. Tasting and handling aside, the best way to check a pepper’s heat level is with the Scoville Heat Scale. The higher a chili pepper is on the heat scale score, the hotter the pepper is.
|Scoville Heat Units||Chilli Pepper|
|1,569,300 – 2,200,000||Carolina Reaper Pepper (PuckerButt Pepper Company, Fort Mill, South Carolina).|
|350,000 – 577,000||Red Savina habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)|
|100,000 – 350,000||Habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin)|
|100,000 – 225,000||Birds Eye pepper|
|50,000 – 100,000||Thai pepper (Capsicum annuum)|
|30,000 – 50,000||Cayenne pepper (Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum frutescens )|
|30,000 – 50,000||Tabasco pepper (Capsicum frutescens)|
|5,000 – 10,000||Chipotle, a Jalapeño pepper that has been smoked.|
|2,500 – 5,000||Jalapeño (Capsicum annuum)|
|100 – 500||Pepperoncini, pepper (also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers, and golden Greek peppers.|
|100 – 500||Pimento|
|0||Sweet Bell pepper|
Unfortunately with heartburn, nothing is completely certain since different people have different reactions to their own set of personal triggers, so on one hand, there is hope that repeated attempts to eat chili peppers will increase resistance effects in the long run. On the other hand, it could also give one a pain in the neck after trying something out and the acid shoots up crazier than before.
Personally, I think it’s worth a shot at least once, not because YOLO, but the long term benefits helps one with heartburn live a step nearer to normalcy. Think of it as someone trying to adapt by increasing resistances to an allergy like seafood. But as a precaution, keep heartburn medication on hand in case it doesn’t pan out. Good luck and we hope this helps you out.