If you like hot peppers, your liver may thank you. That’s the upshot of new research showing daily consumption of capsaicin, the active compound of chili peppers, has beneficial effects on liver damage.
The study, presented at the International Liver Congress in Austria this week, found capsaicin reduced the activation of specific cells involved in liver fibrosis — called hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) — in mice experiments. Liver fibrosis involves the formation of scar tissue in response to liver damage.
The researchers found mice given capsaicin had improved liver function in mice with bile duct ligation — which leads to liver fibrosis — and that the pepper compound halted further injury.
The findings suggest that capsaicin, which is now used in some formulations of arthritis treatments, could be used to develop new products to treat and prevent liver injury and fibrosis.
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