Capsaicin the Culprit?

system Science Leave a Comment

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Email this to someone

Hi Dave

I’m a 75 year old healthy guy who has a rare blood disorder called amyloidosis; one out of 100,000 but not a cancer. Unlike most, my strength, energy and major organs have not been affected (I continue to play tennis at my usual level) but the symptoms have centered in the vesicular area. As a retired adhesive chemist, I consider the oral cavity issues as a loss of adhesion between the top layers of my skin. The skin blotches on my upper body which come and go are of little concern to me.

However, in addition to many small blisters caused by nipping while eating and tongue sensitivity; three times in the past three years I’ve had gigantic high pressure blood filled blisters on my tongue or cheek while eating. First, 2 1/2 years ago choosing the end roast beef piece at a wedding in N.C. The second, last year on my 75th birthday in Israel when I stupidly ordered "shashika" a known local very spicy dish. The third 2 weeks ago, when I ordered Negomaki, a Japanese appetizer which caused a blister on my tongue which grew in a few minutes almost as big as a golf ball! When it broke, my mouth filled with blood but by good fortune, a spasm shut off the veins (my dermatologist thinks) so I didn’t end up in an emergency room. Is it likely or possible that in all incidents capsaicin was the culprit?

Elliot Eisenbach

Hello Elliot:

I would have to know what was in these spicy dishes. It could be horseradish derivatives rather than capsaicin, and isothiocyanate is present in both horseradish and wasabi. I’ve never heard of capsaicin causing such a reaction, but you never know. It could be a simple allergic reaction to either. However, I do know one thing: you should stop eating spicy food of any kind.


Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Email this to someone