Q:

What are the uses of capsaicin crystals?

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Quick Answer

Capsaicin crystals are used in food flavorings, self-defense sprays, garden pest repellents, marine barnacle repellents, dietary supplements to improve digestion or fight infections, pain relievers and equestrian health products. Capsaicin crystals occur naturally in many hot chili peppers such as cayenne pepper.

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Full Answer

Capsaicin is a common ingredient in a variety of spicy foods such as salsa and prepared sauces.

Pepper sprays containing capsaicin are used by law enforcement officers to subdue suspects and for riot control. Pepper sprays are also available for civilian use against criminals and animal attacks such as bear and dog attacks. It is painful if sprayed into the eyes or nose and may cause breathing difficulty if inhaled.

Capsaicin has been used as an ingredient in pest repellents for many years. It is used as a natural defense against pests and vermin including insects, rabbits, deer and pigeons. It has also been used to deter wild elephants from grazing on crops and to keep barnacles from attaching to boat hulls.

In human medicines, capsaicin has been used to loosen mucus, help prevent heart disease, alleviate pain, stop bacterial infections, kill some cancer cells and as an antioxidant.

Capsaicin is sometimes given to horses as a pain killer or as a stimulant. It has been banned from use in horses that compete in Olympic events.

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