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J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):228-31.

The effect of red and black pepper on orocecal transit time.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Clinical Nutrition, Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center, Bronx, New York.


The effects of spices on intestinal peristalsis have not been studied in humans. In this pilot study we evaluated the effects of red pepper and black pepper on small intestinal peristalsis measuring orocecal transit time (OCTT) utilizing a lactulose hydrogen breath test. Subjects included 16 healthy volunteers. The lactulose hydrogen breath test was done on different days with or without the powdered red pepper (2 g) or black pepper (1.5 g) given in gelatin capsules. The baseline orocecal transit time was increased significantly after red pepper consumption (88 +/- 37.2 to 128 +/- 63.2 min, p less than 0.01). Although the change in OCTT was not statistically significant, a similar trend was observed after black pepper consumption (90 +/- 51 min to 122 +/- 88 min., p = 0.09). The pathogenesis of increased OCTT after red pepper may be attributed to the known effects of capsaicin, a constituent noted to be a potent stimulator of many biologically active peptides. Although the effect of spices on OCTT is likely to vary depending upon the dose and nature of the product, it is of clinical importance in the management of various gastrointestinal tract disorders.

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