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Stimulation of Sensation and Improvement in Swallowing Using Oral Capsaicin

Information source: University of California, Davis
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 20, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Dysphagia; Gastroesophageal Reflux

Phase: N/A

Status: Completed

Sponsored by: University of California, Davis

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Peter A Belafsky, MD, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Affiliation: University of California, Davis


This is a research study to learn more about whether capsaicin, a natural ingredient of chili peppers that makes them taste "hot", can improve swallowing function. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether sucking on a capsaicin lozenge improves sensation in the throat enough to improve swallowing function.

Clinical Details

Official title: Stimulation of Sensation and Improvement in Swallowing Using Oral Capsaicin

Study design: Observational Model: Cohort, Time Perspective: Cross-Sectional

Primary outcome: Improvement in sensation and swallowing after using oral capsaicin

Detailed description: Swallowing problems are encountered frequently in primary practice and in the hospital setting. The list of possible causes is large, ranging from strokes and neurological disease through to complications of cancer treatment, acid reflux, and surgery. Many patients have a reduced ability to feel food and fluid (reduced sensation) within the throat (pharynx) and this leads to inability to manipulate food and fluids in the correct manner. This can produce a variety of swallowing problems such as choking on foods and fluids, regurgitation, aspiration, weight loss, malnutrition and poor quality of life. Treatment is largely directed at rehabilitation of muscle power and education about safe swallowing techniques or positioning that limits food and fluid entering the airway. A novel approach is to try to improve sensation within the pharynx so that patients can feel substances present and then manipulate them in a more appropriate and safe manner. In this regard capsaicin, a nutritional supplement derived from peppers, has shown a stimulatory effect on sensory nerves and an ability to improve the swallowing reflex (Ebihara et al., 2005). Although studies have shown that capsaicin can improve the swallowing reflex, data regarding improvement in swallowing function is lacking. Using a small dose of capsaicin administered as a lozenge, we hope to stimulate sensation within the pharynx enough to improve physical swallowing measures on a contrast swallow study. This method of application is comfortable, easy and directed to the site of action.


Minimum age: 18 Years. Maximum age: N/A. Gender(s): Both.


Inclusion Criteria:

- Patients older than 18 years of age

- Patients with the following condition: dysphagia, globus, gastroesophageal reflux,

neurological disease affecting swallowing or any other condition requiring dynamic swallow study

- Patients willing to provide written informed consent for their participation in the

study Exclusion Criteria:

- Patients unable to complete a full dynamic swallow study protocol

- Patients enrolled in another investigational clinical trial that interferes with any

testing or testing results

- Patients who are pregnant

- Patients with known sensitivities or allergies to capsaicin or peppers, or

nightshades (tomato, bell pepper, eggplant) or latex

- Patients who are prisoners

- Patients who are unable to keep a capsaicin lozenge in their mouth safely for 5


Locations and Contacts

University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, California 95817, United States
Additional Information

Starting date: October 2009
Last updated: April 22, 2013

Page last updated: August 20, 2015

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