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Can Cayenne Pepper Harm Kidneys?

author image Joseph Pritchard
Joseph Pritchard graduated from Our Lady of Fatima Medical School with a medical degree. He has spent almost a decade studying humanity. Dr. Pritchard writes as a San Francisco biology expert for a prominent website and thoroughly enjoys sharing the knowledge he has accumulated.
Can Cayenne Pepper Harm Kidneys?
A close-up of a dried cayenne pepper on a wooden table. Photo Credit longtaildog/iStock/Getty Images

Your kidneys typically filter your blood as much as 400 times daily, KidsHealth.org reports. The renal artery takes blood to your kidneys for filtration. Aside from filtration, your kidneys are also responsible for balancing the level of fluids and minerals in your body. Cayenne pepper contains a substance called capsaicin that gives cayenne both its spicy flavor and medicinal qualities. Despite its purported medicinal qualities, cayenne has been associated with protein synthesis inhibition, according to a study published in a 2000 issue of “Archives of Toxicology.”

Cayenne and Kidney Cells

Capsaicin inhibits protein synthesis in monkey kidney cells, according to a study featured in a 2000 issue of “Archives of Toxicology.” The study involved the use of cultured monkey kidney cells and the capsaicin uptake and toxic effects were assessed over a period of 24 hours. The inhibitory effects of capsazepine, vanilloid receptor 1 and tyrosine on capsaicin were also examined. The results showed that tyrosine was able to prevent capsaicin from metabolized. However, tyrosine seemed to have little effect on capsaicin diffusion. Further research will help assess this effect on humans

Capsaicin, Onions and Renal Lesions

Dietary capsaicin does not seem to have any favorable effects on renal disease caused by diabetes, according to a 1999 issue of “The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.” The study examined the effect of onion powder and capsaicin renal lesions in diabetic rats. Just 15 mg percent of capsaicin was added to the rats’ diet for about 8 weeks. The results of the study seem to support the purported ameliorating effect of dietary onion on diabetic nephropathy, while also showing that capsaicin had no positive effect. This implies that capsaicin does not seem to damage your kidneys.

Overall Effect on Kidneys

Rabbits fed a diet containing 5 percent red pepper did not show any kidney problems , according to a 2007 issue of “International Journal of Toxicolgy.” The study involved rabbits and lasted up to 8 weeks. The study also examined the effect of capsaicin on other organs and systems of the body and found that capsaichin had beneficial effects on them. Research involving human test subjects is necessary to validate the finds of this study.

Side Effects and Possible Interactions

Capsaicin have been associated with stomach upset, kidney and liver damage as well as abdominal pain, the University of Maryland Medical Center explains. Capsaicin has been associated with increased stomach acidity as well as lowering the effect of ranitidine and other stomach acid reducers. Capsaicin also potentiates the effects of blood-thinning medications.

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