Capsaicin, the chemically active component in hot peppers that makes them taste spicy, is a clinically proven and safe topical therapy for pain relief for arthritis and joint pain. The way it works is the capsaicin binds to nerve receptors and initially causes a burning, tingling sensation, which is followed by an analgesic effect or the blocking of pain.
There are several excellent over-the-counter (OTC) cream products that include this effective natural ingredient. Creams are a wonderful alternative to oral pain relievers by virtue of their delivery method; since creams are applied to the skin and not ingested, there are no dangers of gastrointestinal side effects or other unintended consequences that can result from pills. Additionally, creams target the pain at its location, unlike general pain relieving analgesics taken in pill form.
Of the OTC capsaicin pain-relieving creams, I recommend a product called Zostrix, which has great clinical science to back up its pain relief claims for arthritis and diabetic neuropathy.
However, if you’re trying to cut costs, can’t afford a capsaicin cream, or need to make one in a hurry, there’s an easy way to make some yourself. Here’s how:
Simply mix one part cayenne powder with five parts of warmed Vaseline and apply the resulting salve to your achy joints.
By the way, Vaseline is very convenient in a pinch; it’s cheap and readily available, and it melts easily and congeals when cooled. Studies have also shown that Vaseline isn’t absorbed through the skin.
Important note: Always wash your hands well after handling cayenne powder or any capsaicin-based cream. I know in my case it seems like I inevitably always end up wiping or touching my eyes afterward, for some reason. To put it mildly, it’s not a pleasant sensation.