Spicy foods are appreciated by a large part of the world population but have been blamed for causing hemorrhoids or exacerbating their symptoms, although no epidemiologic studies have been performed supporting this hypothesis. In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, we have studied the effects of a single dose of red hot chili pepper on the hemorrhoidal symptoms.
Fifty patients with second-degree and third-degree symptomatic hemorrhoids were randomly assigned to take a capsule containing red hot chili powder or placebo during lunch, scoring five hemorrhoidal symptoms (bleeding, swelling, pain, itching, and burning) on a visual analog scale. After one week, crossover treatment was administered according to the same methodology. Other treatments and foods potentially related with anorectal symptoms were discontinued during the study periods.
Patients assigned low scores to their hemorrhoidal symptoms before the study and the scores remained unchanged during the 48 hours after both placebo and chili pepper treatment, the latter showing no statistically significant effects.
There is no scientific evidence that a spicy meal based on red hot chili pepper may worsen hemorrhoidal symptoms and, therefore, there is no reason to prevent these patients from occasionally enjoying a spicy dish if they so wish.