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Photo: Pixabay/Public Domain

The Surprising Health Benefits of Cannabis and Chili Peppers

Picture of Nadia Elysse
US Editorial Team Lead
Updated: 27 April 2017
What do hot peppers and marijuana have in common? It sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke, but actually the two can offer healing benefits for people struggling with some serious medical issues.

A small study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers, reduced inflammation in the guts of mice who were fed the peppers. The researchers found that feeding the mice chili peppers both reduced inflammation and cured mice with type 1 diabetes. When introduced into the gastrointestinal system, the capsaicin produced the chemical anandamide, which is similar to the cannabinoids in marijuana.

So, the thinking goes, if researchers gave mice the anandamide directly (sans chili pepper) it may have the same effect. And, since anandamide and cannabinoids are strikingly similar, perhaps cannabis edibles could help treat inflammation in the colon (colitis) and type 1 diabetes in humans.

“I’m hoping to work with the public health authority in Colorado to see if there has been an effect on the severity of colitis among regular users of edible weed,” Pramod Srivastava, Professor of Immunology and Medicine at UConn School of Medicine, said in a press release.