Kesilapan menjadikan kesakitan bertambah teruk

Terdapat beberapa kesilapan yang sering dilakukan oleh kebanyakan orang apabila menghadapi kesakitan. Kebanyakannya suka menangguh-nangguhkan masa untuk berjumpa doktor apabila terasa sakit, dengan kata lain, suka menunggu sehingga sakit yang dialami sudah tidak tahan lagi ditanggung. Ini boleh menyebabkan kemudharatan akhirnya kerana sudah terlewat untuk dirawat. Sesetengah penyakit apabila dikenalpasti dan dirawat pada peringkat awal, kemungkinan untuk sembuh dan pulih seperti sediakala adalah besar.

Sakit bukan lagi dianggap simptom sahaja, tetapi ia juga dianggap sebagai penyakit. Oleh itu, jika ada terasa sakit, segeralah lakukan pemeriksaan dan rawatan doktor.

Selain itu, terdapat beberapa lagi kesilapan yang menyebabkan kesakitan bertambah teruk dan penyakit yang dialami bertambah kronik, dan cara-cara untuk mengatasinya. Di antaranya di panjangkan di bawah ini untuk dikongsi dan dijadikan panduan bersama…..

8 Mistakes That Make Pain Worse

By Laurie Tarkan, Prevention
October 20, 2010

The Right Formula for Your Pain

Chronic pain affects millions and is notoriously tricky to control. An estimated 43 million Americans report living with chronic pain, defined as lasting for at least 3 months. Yet experts agree that it’s woefully undertreated in our country. Despite breakthroughs in the understanding of pain, few doctors are aware of these advances or are trained in pain management, says Michel Dubois, MD, director of pain medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center.

One major shift in thinking is that chronic pain is now believed to be a disease, not a symptom, and that treating pain is about not simply targeting the source but treating the whole person. Like heart disease or other chronic conditions, there’s no magic bullet, so you need to draw on a number of approaches, from exercise and medication to relaxation techniques and talk therapy. Eliminating your pain entirely may not be realistic; what is attainable is to lower it enough to improve your life and do the things you love. If you’re making any of the mistakes that follow, we’ve got the right formula for lasting relief.

Is stress causing your chronic pain?

#1: You’re Trying to Tough It Out

One in four pain sufferers waits at least 6 months before seeing a doctor.

Typical reasons: They downplay the pain or think it’ll pass on its own, according to the American Pain Society. Also, many sufferers self-treat with OTC painkillers.

Get relief: Seek treatment sooner rather than later. Studies show that the majority of injuries resolve themselves in about 4 weeks, so if yours hasn’t—or if your pain is affecting your ability to function—see your doctor. Waiting can wreak havoc on your body and your mind. When pain keeps you from being active, muscles weaken and shrink and joints stiffen, setting you up for further injuries. Research shows that chronic pain can also lead to depression and even shrink your brain. A study of 26 patients who had back pain for at least 1 year found that they had a 5 to 11% loss of brain cells in two areas of the brain—the thalamus and prefrontal cortex—compared with a control group.

One explanation is that the neurons are hyperactive for so long that it causes them to break down and die, explains Dubois. Researchers hypothesize that if the pain persists, it may become less responsive to treatment because of the brain changes.

#2: You’ve Seen Multiple Specialists

In our fragmented health care system, with a specialist for every ailment, it’s easy to jump from one doctor to the next. But doctor hopping, experts say, can waste time and money, lead to excessive MRIs and other diagnostic tests, and delay treatment.

Get relief: Find one doctor who can be your point person to coordinate other treatments. Your primary care physician is likely the best person for this. “Just make sure you get a sense that he or she takes your pain seriously, offers you a treatment strategy, and sees you frequently enough to monitor your progress—or refer you to a specialist if your plan is not working,” says Russell Portenoy, MD, chairman of the department of pain medicine and palliative care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.

If you’ve been suffering for months with no improvement, then it may be time to seek out a comprehensive pain management center. (To find one, visit the Web site of the American Academy of Pain Management at aapainmanage.org.) If you don’t have pain management experts near you, look for a specialist who deals with the source of your pain, like an orthopedist for back pain or a rheumatologist for arthritis or fibromyalgia.

#3: You’re Afraid to Exercise

It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re hurting, but study after study shows that exercise reduces all kinds of pain. It strengthens your muscles and oils your joints, making you less likely to get reinjured. It also releases natural pain-relieving endorphins, which can boost your mood, and it fights the inflammation associated with a number of painful conditions like gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Get relief: Start slow and easy, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a few months. Do 5 or 10 minutes of walking or another low-impact activity a couple of times a day if that’s all you can do. Swimming or aquatic aerobics, especially in warm water, makes it easier to move, takes pressure off joints, and reduces stiffness and pain. “The goal is to get you to a comfortable level of functioning,” says Judith Turner, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. For people who have fibromyalgia, low- or moderate-intensity activities reduce pain better than high-intensity ones.

A physical therapist can guide you and help lay out a safe plan. But other treatments physical therapists or practitioners offer, such as ultrasound and electrostimulation, have little evidence to support their effectiveness beyond short-term symptom relief, says Tim Carey, MD, director of the Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina.

14 Habits that hurt your back.

#4: Your First Instinct Is Surgery

Surgery may feel like the most efficient option, but for chronic pain, the research is mixed. Studies show that operating to relieve lower-back pain without any evidence of nerve pressure, for example, may offer minimal, if any benefit, compared with a rehabilitation program—not to mention that it comes with risks. “The truth is any surgery has a chance of making your pain worse from infection, scarring, and nerve damage,” says Carey.

Get relief: Opt for pain medications, physical therapy, or exercise first. To treat back pain, for example, experts recommend trying a combination of the three for at least 6 months before discussing surgical options. Many people will improve enough to either avoid or no longer be eligible for surgery, says William Abdu, MD, medical director of the Spine Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. You can also talk with your doctor about trying a shorter, more intensive rehabilitation program.

#5: You’re Wary of Narcotics

The news is filled with stories about unintentional deaths from pain meds or celebs who became hooked on them. So it’s no wonder that many pain sufferers prefer to play it safe with OTC pain relievers. Even some physicians avoid narcotics for fear of being punished for overprescribing them. But the reality is, most people in pain aren’t going to get addicted to or die from pain meds. And the benefits of taking them are immense—when you’re in less pain, you can be more active and speed your recovery.

Get relief: Most doctors start patients on low doses of opioids and require check-in evaluations every 3 or 4 weeks to make sure the medication is working well. If you experience that “drugged” feeling in the beginning, don’t worry—it’ll go away in a few days as your body adjusts to the medication. Take the drug only as prescribed—don’t increase the dose or combine it with other types of drugs, such as muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety drugs, unless you’ve talked with your doctor.

All that said, there are some people who may be predisposed to addiction. If you’ve had a problem with alcohol or drugs in the past, you’ll have to be monitored even more closely by your doctor. Signs of addiction include feeling compulsive about taking the drug, being unable to control how much you take, and showing no signs of improvement.

#6: You Haven’t Tried Natural Remedies

If you can’t take pain meds because of side effects or are just looking to enhance their effects, consider alternative treatments. Clinical studies show that acupuncture, for example, relieves osteoarthritis pain, sciatica, and lowerback problems. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers can benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3- fatty acids supplements; according to a large review of recent research, patients who took devil’s claw, white willow bark, and cayenne for lowerback pain had more relief than those who took a placebo.

Get relief: Herbal therapies are not without side effects and they may interfere with other medications, so talk with your doctor before taking them. For a science-based primer on top natural pain fighters, go to prevention.com/naturalpaincures. Numerous studies also show that mental techniques can help ease pain. Start with some simple relaxation techniques: Practice deep breathing and tightening and relaxing different muscles for 15 to 20 minutes every day. A therapist can help you learn other types of relaxation, such as visualization, self-hypnosis, and biofeedback—ask your doctor for a referral.

Ways to relieve your chronic pain naturally.

#7: You Don’t Discuss Depression

About 54% of people with chronic back pain suffer from depression. But only one-third of them take antidepressants, according to a recent study. New brain-imaging research, however, clearly shows that our mental state is intricately tied to how we process—and deal with—pain. Brain scans show that in patients with chronic pain, the parts that light up are involved with emotion, not just sensation. “It implies that our emotions have a profound influence on how we perceive pain, how much distress it causes, and ultimately how it affects our quality of life,” explains Portenoy.

Get relief: If you feel hopeless, sleep more or less than usual, and gain or lose weight rapidly, you could be suffering from depression. Discuss your symptoms and options with your doctor, who may prescribe an antidepressant, recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or even suggest a combination of the two. CBT teaches you how to better cope with and adapt to your pain (and even train your mind to reduce it), which helps lessen the emotional stress that can make the pain feel worse. “There is more science showing the benefit of cognitive behavioral approaches than there is for most of the drugs for pain,” says Portenoy.

In one recent study, patients with depression and pain were randomly assigned to receive antidepressants and, after 3 months, were given six sessions of CBT. A year later, those in the intervention group were significantly less depressed and had less pain than those who were only informed that they had depressive symptoms and should seek advice about treatment. To find a CBT specialist, visit the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists at nacbt.org; for psychologists who focus on pain management, check out the AAPM Web site.

#8: You Don’t Do Your Own Research

A little digging on your own behalf may open you up to new treatment options, help you ask more pointed questions, and improve your sense of control over your care. Antonia Kent, 39, injured her back when she was 21 and underwent three failed surgeries before deciding it was time to look into different options herself. “I went to the library and read about my particular injury and pain treatments,” says the teacher from Union, NJ. “It made me feel proactive and not a victim of my pain.” The research gave her ideas about which doctors to talk to and therapies to try. After her third surgery, she started taking a stronger medication that got her back on her feet. Today she takes a milder medication with herb supplements, and her pain is much better controlled.

Get relief: Research your specific condition on patient advocacy Web sites, such as the American Pain Foundation (painfoundation.org). Also consider joining local chronic pain support groups, where you can get doctor recommendations and share ideas about treatments. You can find tools online as well to help you decide whether to have surgery, take a particular test, or continue with treatment. A good resource: Go to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Web site (dhmc.org) and search for Center for Shared Decision Making. There, you can download questionnaires or borrow videos to help you weigh risks and benefits.

Source

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Hadis – 37 ~ Kelebihan sedekah secara rahsia

Rasulullah SAW bersabda: “Sedekah rahsia memadamkan kemurkaan Tuhan.” (HR Al-Tabrani).

Keterangan:
Sedekah secara rahsia itu lebih diutamakan kerana ia lebih dekat kepada keikhlasan, iaitu merupakan ruh bagi setiap amal, dan kerana ia juga lebih jauh daripada perasaan riyak yang merosakkan amal.

Penyebab utama sakit tulang belakang bawah

Berikut dipanjangkan sebab-sebab atau faktor-faktor utama yang menyebabkan sakit di bahagian bawah tulang belakang (tulang lumbar), yang telah dikenalpasti oleh pakar perubatan.

Dimuatkan juga kaedah rawatan asas serta petua-petua bagi mencegah sakit di bahagian bawah tulang belakang ini untuk kita jadikan panduan bersama……

Top Causes of Low Back Pain

Here are the top causes of low back pain and tips for prevention.

By Stephanie Watson
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

It’s hard to find any part of Elin Laird’s life that hasn’t been touched by pain. “I can’t stand for too long. I can’t sit for too long. Pretty much if I’m at home, I’m lying in bed,” says the 39-year-old single mother. “I can’t be as active in my son’s life. I can’t travel as much. I’ve lost so much of my life.”

Laird describes the pain of her herniated disc as similar to having “an ice pick shoved in the base of my spine.” It’s a pain that no therapy – from steroids to painkillers to surgery – has managed to budge. And she is far from alone in her discomfort.

“Eighty percent of the population of the United States, at some point in their life, is going to have back pain,” says Ronald J. Wisneski, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, specialist in spinal disorders and spine surgery, and associate in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. Most of the time, that pain is centered in the lower back.

What could be triggering your back pain? To get an idea, the author talked to two orthopedic surgeons about the most common causes of lower back pain — and what you can do about it.

What Causes Herniated Discs and Sciatica

Why is the lower back a target area for pain? “Generally speaking, the lower back is subject to a lot of mechanical stress and strain,” says Gunnar Andersson, MD, PhD, professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “The reason is the weight of the upper body, which always puts loads on the lower back.”

Supporting all that upper body weight is the spine, which is made up of more than 30 small bones called vertebrae stacked one on top of the other. A spongy piece of cartilage, called a disc, sits between each vertebra. It acts as a shock absorber, preventing the bony vertebrae from grinding against one another.

With age, these cushioning discs gradually wear away and shrink, a condition known as degenerative disc disease. Discs can also tear or become injured. Sometimes the weakening of a disc can put pressure on its jelly-like center. Wisneski describes this process as similar to a bubble forming on your car’s tire.

“You hit a bump in the road, then all of a sudden that tire goes pop,” he says. In the case of your back, that pressure can lead to a herniated disc (also called a “slipped disc”), in which the center of the disc bulges outward.

Sometimes that bulging causes the material from inside the disc to press on the sensitive nerves that carry messages to the brain. The result can be the kind of excruciating pain Laird has experienced. “If I move wrong, I get what I call a ‘sonic boom’ — this jolt of electricity through my pelvic area,” she says.

A herniated disc can put pressure on the nerve that extends down the spinal column, causing pain to radiate to the buttocks and all the way down the leg. This condition is called sciatica.

Other Conditions Causing Lower Back Pain

Deteriorating discs are just one of many sources of low back pain. Others include:

* muscle and ligament strains
* skeletal problems
* degenerative conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis (brittle bones), and spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine that puts pressure on nerves)

Less commonly, low back pain can be a sign of a serious medical condition such as diabetes or a pinched nerve. In the case of a pinched nerve, the pain may be accompanied by symptoms like fever, chills, night sweats, or loss of bladder control.

Back Strain and Pain

Even with the more sophisticated techniques available to diagnose what’s causing low back pain, many times doctors don’t know what caused the problem. “It’s very hard for us to identify the reason for a patient’s pain,” Andersson says.

When Martin Snyder, 42, first started experiencing low back pain in his early 20s, his doctor blamed it on stress. “I said, ‘But I don’t have any stress,'” Snyder recalls. Eventually he was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, but he and his doctors still have no idea what triggered it.

Straining your back would seem to be one obvious cause of low back pain. “There’s a lot of studies that indicate that back pain is more frequent among people who do a lot of heavy physical lifting,” Andersson says. “Things can happen when you do lifting that can cause significant overloading of your spine.” Although too much strain may be part of the equation, it isn’t always entirely to blame for lower back pain.

Lower Back Pain: Is It in Your Genes?

One of the main reasons a person develops low back pain and another doesn’t may lie in their genes. With disc degeneration, Andersson says, “If you take twins — one who is doing heavy physical work and one who is doing desk work — and you compare their MRI exams, they are essentially identical. This tells you that genetic factors are very important.”

If you have chronic low back pain, you’ve likely inherited the tendency, and you’re probably hardwired for it. The lower back contains sensitive receptors called nociceptive fibers, which send pain signals to the brain. “Some people have a lot of nociceptive fibers — for example, in their discs — while others have relatively few,” Wisneski tells WebMD. That may be why one person can lift heavy weights many times and never experience low back pain, while another who barely lifts anything is in constant agony.

5 Ways to Ease Low Back Pain

Just because it’s possible to inherit low back pain doesn’t mean the matter is completely out of your control. “It’s how we’re born and how we take care of ourselves,” Wisneski says.

If you sit in an uncomfortable chair all day, work a jackhammer, or regularly twist your body into uncomfortable positions, your lower back will suffer for it. Smoking — the bad habit that increases the risk of dozens of diseases — can also lead to backaches. One study found that smokers are nearly a third more likely to have low back pain compared to nonsmokers.

Try these five tips to prevent or ease lower back pain:

* If you smoke, get help to kick the habit.

* Practice good posture whenever you sit or stand. When lifting something, lift with your knees, not with your back.

* Do exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your back – especially the abdominals, hips, back, and pelvic area. Developing strong core muscles can make a big difference in how you feel. “When my abs are in good shape and I’m well worked out, I’m the least susceptible,” Snyder says.

* Fight the urge to crawl into bed whenever your lower back acts up. “Our bodies are meant to be used,” Wisneski says. “If you have pain, sometimes you develop a ‘disease of disuse.”

* See your doctor and get treated for low back pain early on, so you can stay moving and keep active.

Source

Today’s Quote – 78

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars ~ Les Brown

Teknik Mengetahui Kek Yang Mengandungi Arak

Maklumat ini diterima melalui email, tidak pasti sejuah mana kebenarannya. Walau bagaimanapun, kita masih boleh mencuba teknik dan mungkin tahu sendiri benar atau tidak teknik yang diberi oleh Chef Farid ini….

Pengalaman bekerja di Hotel telah memberi pengalaman yang ingin saya kongsikan bersama pembaca semua.

Saya pernah di lemparkan dengan kek yang saya buat kerana tidak mencampurkan wain atau rum.

Rasa bersalah sentiasa menghantui kerana bersubahat untuk menghidangkan makanan yang tidak halal kepada orang Islam yang lain.

Dengan itu, saya berhenti kerja, coz saya rasa ada tempat lain lagi, yang boleh saya dapat rezeki yang halal.

Disini saya perturunkan, bagaimana ingin mengetahui kek yang kita makan mengandungi bahan tersebut.

Apabila kek yang ada wain, rasanya seakan-akan masam sedikit.

Puas saya fikirkan macaman nak memperjelaskan lagi rasanya.

ok la, pernah tak buat Sponge Cake (Sponge Cake Mix 100 gram, Air 100ml, Telur 100 ml dan Minyak 100 ml), kalau pernah cuba gantikan air dalam resepi, dengan air Pepsi atau Coke.

Hasilnya kek kita akan terasa masam-masam sedikit seperti kek yang ada wain.

Cubala buat, dan simpan “rasa” itu supaya kita akan lebih berhati-hati lagi dimasa akan datang, dan beritahu rakan2 atau saudara mara.

Untuk pengetahuan, adunan kek biasanya digaul dengan tangan. Oleh itu, berhati-hatilah membeli kek.

Sekian

Chef Farid

Allahi Allah Kiya Karo ~ Maher Zain

Dengarkan…

Khasiat lada (cili)

“Pedas-pedas tapi sedap” – itulah kata-kata yang sering kita dengar daripada penggemar lada atau cili, terutamanya kalau makan sambal belacan atau gulai masak lemak (Negeri Sembilan) yang pedas. Sesetengahnya tidak berselera makan tanpa cili dalam lauk, hingga sanggup makan lada/cili mentah-mentah sebagai ulam. Mungkin orang-orang tua dulu tidak tahu khasiat lada, kerana lada hanya digunakan sebagai penyedap masakan.

Syukur kerana kawasan tropika, seperti Malaysia, ini dianugerahkan oleh Allah SWT dengan pelbagai jenis dan varieti lada, bermacam bentuk, bermacam rasa, dan bermacam tahap kepedasannya. Bukan itu sahaja, rupanya lada ini sangat berkhasiat untuk kesihatan, malah baru-baru ini hasil penyelidikan menunjukkan lada api (cili api) berpotensi untuk mengubat kanser. Khasiatnya lebih ketara jika dimakan mentah, seperti “bell pepper” atau lada lain (bagi yang tahan pedas) kerana lada banyak mengandungi antioksidan dan fitokimia.

Berikut dipanjangkan maklumat tentang khasiat kesihatan dan kelebihan lada sebagai makanan atau bahan dalam makanan….

Peppers and Your Health

A look at the potential health benefits that peppers may hold.

By Annie Stuart
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Peppers — hot or not — may do more than round out your omelet, spice up your salsa, and make for a colorful stir-fry. They help you get some of your daily vitamins and contain compounds that may be linked to weight loss, pain reduction, and other benefits.

Peppers, by the way, are fruits, not vegetables. They have been popular for a long time, including with the ancient Aztecs. And now they’re getting new attention from researchers eager to unlock their potential health benefits.

Here’s what nutrition and health experts say about these tropical plants from the nightshade family.

Phytochemicals in Peppers

Whether spicy or sweet, peppers contain many phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring compounds found in plants.

“Close to a million have been identified in nature,” says David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and public health and chief and founding director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Division of Clinical Nutrition at UCLA. He is also author of several nutrition books, including What
Color Is Your Diet?

Many of peppers’ phytochemicals have antioxidant abilities. This means they can help neutralize free radicals in the body, which damage cells. So they may help prevent or reduce symptoms of certain diseases. Similar to hormones, some phytochemicals also act as messengers in the body, Heber says.

Peppers come in a rainbow of colors, including green, red, yellow, orange, and even purple, brown, and black.

“Each color of pepper is associated with a different family of phytochemicals,” Heber says. But there’s a lot of overlap in nature. “So it’s not like you need to have a certain type of chili pepper, or you’re going to die.” The problem occurs when you don’t eat enough variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, spices, and herbs, he says.

Peppers’ Top Performers

Whether mild or fiery, peppers are nutrient-dense. They’re one of the richest sources of vitamins A and C. Just a cup a day can provide more than 100% of your daily needs.

Go for a variety of colors in peppers to get the biggest bang for your buck. Red bell peppers are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, and the minerals molybdenum and manganese. And, they’re especially rich in nutrients and phytochemicals such as:

* Vitamin A, which may help preserve eyesight, and fend off infections.

* Vitamin C, which may lower cancer risk and protect against cataracts.

* Vitamin B6, which is vital for essential chemical reactions throughout the body, including those involving brain and immune function.

* Lutein and zeaxanthin, which may slow the development of eye diseases, such as cataracts or macular degeneration.

* Beta-carotene, which may help protect against certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer in women before menopause.

* Lycopene, which may decrease the risk for ovarian cancer

Capsaicin: From Pain to Pleasure

What about the noteworthy antioxidant that gives spicy peppers their zing? You know, that tear-jerking, sweat-inducing, fiery blast of heat?

That’s capsaicin. It’s a flavorless, odorless, colorless compound found in varying amounts in peppers. Fiery habaneros contain the most. Jalapeños have some. Bell peppers have none.

“The more capsaicin, the hotter the pepper, and the higher the antioxidant level,” says Malena Perdermo, MS, RD, CDE, affiliate professor of nutrition in the health professions department at the Metropolitan State College of Denver. “Red chilies are usually hotter, but even the green ones have capsaicin. You can’t always go by the color to determine how hot it is,” says Perdermo, who is also the American Dietetic Association’s Latino Nutrition spokesperson.

Capsaicin was likely an adaptation by peppers to keep animals from eating them, says Heber. Unfortunately, peppers are standoffish with humans as well, hitting pain receptors on the tongue’s nerve cells, which sends a message to the brain. But with constant exposure, these cells can become desensitized.

“Once a person gets used to a chili pepper on the tongue,” says Heber, “it actually becomes pleasant. Hot peppers release endorphins, the pleasure hormone.” How that happens isn’t clear. But people in ancient Aztec and Mayan societies, Heber says, even considered chili peppers an aphrodisiac.

Capsaicin’s Potential Health Benefits

Because of the complex mixtures of phytochemicals in peppers and other plants, it is not easy to confirm their individual health benefits. Many genetic and lifestyle factors affect a person’s health.

However, capsaicin has captured the interest of many researchers and is beginning to unveil a few of its secrets. Here’s a sample of what the research shows.

Weight loss benefits without the burn? The capsaicin in peppers has been shown to slightly curb appetite — at least briefly, says Heber. And peppers can raise body temperature. That warming effect may have another benefit that may help with weight loss.

Calorie Burning

Heber and his UCLA colleagues recently turned to peppers while trying to help obese patients on an 800 calorie-a-day diet. “When you’re on a low-calorie diet, your metabolic rate goes down about 10% to 15% and exercise will not raise it,” says Heber. “We wanted to see if chili peppers could increase metabolism in cases like these.”

Heber’s team used a synthetic form of dihydrocapsiate (DCT), a compound similar to capsaicin but not spicy. Obese patients taking the DCT supplement burned, on average, an extra 80 calories a day – twice that of those taking a placebo.

It’s a modest effect, similar to that of green tea or caffeine, says Heber, but adding peppers to your diet can’t hurt your weight loss efforts. And, although he says he doesn’t want to “oversell it,” Heber says this metabolic boost might help over time, especially when combined with peppers’ proven ability to dampen appetite during meals.

Of course, capsaicin is not a weight loss wonder. It doesn’t change the other cornerstones of weight loss: a healthy diet and physical activity plan and a calorie budget in which calories burned exceed calories consumed.

Capsaicin vs. Cancer

Several studies have looked at capsaicin’s impact on cancer cells. H. Phillip Koeffler, MD, director of Hematology and Oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and professor of medicine at UCLA, has studied its effects on prostate and breast cancers.

How it works is not entirely understood, says Koeffler. But it appears that capsaicin may fire a lethal blow at cancer cells by affecting the activity of a protein complex called NF-kappa Beta. This makes it more difficult for cancer to dodge programmed cell death (apoptosis). In the prostate study, capsaicin caused the death of about 80% of prostate cancer cells in mice, making tumors shrink by about one-fifth the size of untreated tumors.

Similar results in mice have been found with other types of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer. And in another study, British researchers found that capsaicin disrupts the mitochondria, a cancer cell’s major energy source, killing lung and pancreatic cancer cells, but leaving healthy cells untouched.

Koeffler doesn’t recommend eating peppers to try to slow cancer growth, especially since you would need to eat about eight of the hottest peppers in the world every week to achieve a similar effect.

Keep in mind, these cancer studies are preliminary and weren’t done in people. There is no direct evidence that eating peppers prevents or slows cancer in people.

Heartburn Help — or Hindrance?

“If you are not used to hot peppers, you are going to get a tremendous amount of burning throughout your whole GI tract when you eat too much pepper,” Heber says.

Dairy protein — like the yogurt condiment that accompanies spicy Indian meals — is a good way to neutralize it, he says. And you can acclimate over time.

What if you have stomach ulcers or heartburn? “Then, I wouldn’t recommend peppers,” says Perdermo, but they may not be the cause of these problems. In fact, she says, peppers might help ward off problems like these by reducing levels of certain bacteria or by simulating protective stomach juices.

Pain-Relieving Properties

It’s more than a little ironic: The compound that gives peppers their burn — capsaicin — can actually relieve the burning from nerve pain.

Available in a cream, capsaicin can relieve neuropathy sometimes experienced by people with type 2 diabetes, says Heber. “It’s used therapeutically to reduce pain from the nerves by sending an impulse back up the nervous system that gets rid of the painful stimulus.”

Studies show that capsaicin is also effective in reducing the pain of osteoarthritis and psoriasis. Some apply capsaicin topical creams on the forehead for headaches, as well, Heber says.

Tips for Peppering Your Diet with Peppers

It’s easy to include peppers in your diet. You can grill, stuff, steam, bake, and stir-fry them. Many peppers are also delicious raw, simply chopped as a crunchy complement for dips or cottage cheese.

Spicy peppers are an acquired taste. “So go slow and small at first – discarding the veins and seeds, which are the hottest part of the pepper,” Perdermo says. “But keep adding peppers so your food is not so bland. Jalapeños, green chilies, red salsas — do a variety to get a mixture of phytochemicals in your diet.”

Here are a few suggestions from Perdermo for adding spicy peppers to your diet.

Chop up peppers and put in sauces and add to noodles.

* Make a salsa with mild peppers and add it to tacos or rice and beans.
* Add to guacamole. Start with half a jalapeño.
* Toss peppers into chicken soup to give it a little kick.
* Roast poblano peppers on the grill. Peel off the blackened part, removing the seeds and some of the veins. Combine with roasted tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro in a blender.

When you’re ready, move on to spicier peppers, such as serranos.

Also popular and easy are ready-to-eat hot pepper sauces. You can make these and homemade sauces a side dish to meals, not just a dip for chips, says Perdermo.

Other ideas: Add chopped bell peppers to tuna or chicken salad. Steam cored bell peppers, stuff them with rice salad, and bake. The possibilities are practically limitless.

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