Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Study Suggests Pepper May Help Weight Loss When Combined With Other Weight Loss Efforts

April 27, 2010 -- Red cayenne pepper may help burn calories and curb appetite, especially in people who aren’t used to eating it, says a new study that was partly supported by the National Institutes of Health and the McCormick Spice Company.

The study found that about half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper either mixed in food or swallowed in a capsule helped normal-weight young adults burn about 10 more calories over a four-hour period, compared to eating the same meal but without the red pepper.

Pepper also decreased appetite, especially in people who said they didn’t already eat spicy foods.

Study researcher Richard Mattes, PhD, RD, distinguished professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., thinks that the pepper is stimulating the trigeminal nerve, one of the main nerves in the head and neck.

“Chemesthesis is the term for chemical irritation, and that’s the sense that this work focused on,” Mattes says. “What we were interested in is, does activation of that system lead to increases in energy expenditure, alterations in appetite and food intake, and so on.”

"The appetite responses were different between those who liked red pepper and those who did not, suggesting that when the stimulus is unfamiliar it has a greater effect,” Mattes says in a news release.

Based on his study, Mattes says it appears that once a person gets used to the spicy foods, their effects start to wear off.

“So the question is, how long does the phenomenon last once you start using red pepper. And if it starts to diminish, how long do you have to wait to obtain the same benefits?” Mattes says. “Those are future studies. This was just our observation that the effect was bigger in people who were not regular users.”

The study is published in Physiology & Behavior.

Previous studies had tested the thermogenic, or calorie-burning, effects of red pepper but had used quantities that were too large to be practical for most people.

Testing the Effect of Pepper

For the study, researchers recruited 25 men and women from a college campus. The average age of study participants was 23. The average BMI (body mass index) was 22.

Healthy Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

Top searches: Chicken, Chocolate, Salad, Desserts, Soup

Heart Rate Calculator

Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...