1.800.858.7378 npic@ace.orst.edu
We're open from 8:00AM to 12:00PM Pacific Time, Mon-Fri


Technical Fact Sheet

As of 2011, NPIC stopped creating technical pesticide fact sheets. The old collection of technical fact sheets will remain available in this archive, but they may contain out-of-date material. NPIC no longer has the capacity to consistently update them. To visit our general fact sheets, click here. For up-to-date technical fact sheets, please visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s webpage.

Laboratory Testing: Before pesticides are registered by the U.S. EPA, they must undergo laboratory testing for short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) health effects. Laboratory animals are purposely given high enough doses to cause toxic effects. These tests help scientists judge how these chemicals might affect humans, domestic animals, and wildlife in cases of overexposure.

Chemical Class and Type:

Molecular Structure - Capsaicin

Physical / Chemical Properties:


Mode of Action:

Target Organisms

Non-target Organisms

Acute Toxicity:




Signs of Toxicity - Animals

Signs of Toxicity - Humans

Chronic Toxicity:



Endocrine Disruption:




NOAEL: No Observable Adverse Effect Level

NOEL: No Observed Effect Level

LOAEL: Lowest Observable Adverse Effect Level

LOEL: Lowest Observed Effect Level

Reproductive or Teratogenic Effects:



Fate in the Body:





Medical Tests and Monitoring:

Environmental Fate:






Food Residue

Ecotoxicity Studies:


Fish and Aquatic Life

Terrestrial Invertebrates

Reference Dose (RfD): The RfD is an estimate of the quantity of chemical that a person could be exposed to every day for the rest of their life with no appreciable risk of adverse health effects. The reference dose is typically measured in milligrams (mg) of chemical per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Integrated Risk Information System, IRIS Glossary, 2009. https://www.epa.gov/iris/iris-glossary#r

Regulatory Guidelines:

Date Reviewed: October 2008

Please cite as: Gervais, J. A. ; Luukinen, B.; Buhl, K.; Stone, D. 2008. Capsaicin Technical Fact Sheet; National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University Extension Services. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/archive/Capsaicintech.html.


  1. Pesticide Products. Pest-Bank [CD-ROM] 2007.
  2. Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) Capsaicin, Case 4018; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 1992.
  3. Flomenbaum, N. E.; Goldfrank, L. R.; Hoffman, R. S.; Howland, M. A.; Lewin, N. A.; Nelson, L. S. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies, 8th ed.; McGraw Hill: New York, 2006.
  4. Lee, R. J.; Yolton, R. L.; Janin, M. L. Personal Defense Sprays: Effects and Management of Ocular and Systemic Exposure. J. Am. Optom. Assoc. 1996, 67 (9), 548-60.
  5. Azizan, A.; Blevins, R. D. Mutagenicity and antimutagenicity testing of six chemicals associated with the pungent properties of specific spices as revealed by the Ames Salmonella/microsomal assay. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 1995, 28, 248-258.
  6. Tucker, S. P. Capsaicin and Dihydrocapsaicin: Method 5041. NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods, 4th ed.; Schlecht, P. C.; O'Connor, P. F., Eds.; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Atlanta,1996.
  7. Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), Capsaicin; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine: Bethesda, MD, 2006.
  8. Copping, L. G. The BioPesticide Manual, 2nd ed.; British Crop Protection Council: Farnham, UK, 2001; pp 171-172.
  9. Xu, Q.; Barrios, C. A.; Cutright, T.; Newby, B. Z. Evaluation of toxicity of capsaicin and zosteric acid and their potential application as antifoulants. Environ. Toxicol. 2005, 20 (5), 467-474.
  10. Johnson Jr., W. Final report on the safety assessment of Capsicum annuum extract, Capsicum annuum fruit extract, Capsicum annuum resin, Capsicum annuum fruit powder, Capsicum frutescens fruit, Capsicum frutescens fruit extract, Capsicum frutescens resin, and capsaicin. Int. J. Toxicol. 2007, 26 (Suppl. 1), 3-106.
  11. Mason, L.; Moore, R. A.; Derry, S.; Edwards, J. E.; McQuay, H. J. Systematic review of topical capsaicin for the treatment of chronic pain. Br. Med. J. 2004, 328 (7446), 991-994.
  12. Knotkova, H.; Pappagallo, M.; Szallasi, A. Capsaicin (TRPV1 agonist) therapy for pain relief: farewell or revival? Clin. J. Pain 2008, 24 (2), 143-154.
  13. Pall, M. L.; Anderson, J. H. The vanilloid receptor as a putative target of diverse chemicals in multiple chemical sensitivity. Arch. Environ. Health 2004, 59 (7), 363-375.
  14. Mori, A.; Lehmann, S.; O'Kelly, J.; Kumagai, T.; Desmond, J. C.; Pervan, M.; McBride, W. H.; Kizaki, M.; Koeffler, H. P. Capsaicin, a component of red peppers, inhibits the growth of androgen-independent, p53 mutant prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res. 2006, 66 (6), 3222-3229.
  15. Reilly, C. A.; Taylor, J. L.; Lanza, D. L.; Carr, B. A.; Crouch, D. J.; Yost, G. S. Capsaicinoids Cause Inflammation and Epithelial Cell Death through Activation of Vanilloid Receptors. Toxicol. Sci. 2003, 73, 170-181.
  16. Burnett, J. W. Capsicum Pepper Dermatitis. Cutis 1989, 43, 534.
  17. Williams, S. R.; Clark, R. F.; Dunford, J. V. Contact Dermatitis Associated with Capsaicin: Hunan Hand Syndrome. Ann. Emerg. Med. 1995, 25, 713-715.
  18. Antonious, G. F.; Meyer, J.; Snyder, J. C. Toxicity and repellency of hot pepper extracts to spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch. J. Environ. Sci. Health B 2006, 41, 1383-1391.
  19. Gharat, L.; Szallasi, A. Medicinal chemistry of the vanilloid (Capsaicin) TRPV1 receptor: current knowledge and future perspectives. Drug Develop. Res. 2007, 68, 477-497.
  20. Geisthövel, E.; Ludwig, O.; Simon, E. Capsaicin fails to produce disturbances of autonomic heat and cold defence in an avian species (Anas platyrhynchos). Pflügers Arch. 1986, 406, 343-350.
  21. Jordt, S.-E.; Julius, D. Molecular basis for species-specific sensitivity to "hot" chili peppers. Cell 2002, 108, 421-430.
  22. Saito, A.; Yamamoto, M. Acute Oral Toxicity of Capsaicin in Mice and Rats. J. Toxicol. Sci. 1996, 21, 195-200.
  23. Glinsukon, T.; Stitmunnaithum, V.; Toskulkao, C.; Buranawuti, T.; Tangkrisanavinot, V. Acute toxicity of capsaicin in several animal species. Toxicol. 1980, 18, 215-220.
  24. Meister, R. T.; Sine, C., Capsaicin. Meister Media Worldwide: Willoughby, OH, 2007; Vol. 93.
  25. Lewis Sr., R. J. Sax's Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials, 10th ed.; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: New York, 2000; p 702.
  26. Chanda, S.; Erexon, G.; Raich, C.; Innes, D.; Stevenson, F.; Murli, H.; Bley, K. Genotoxicity studies with pure trans-capsaicin. Mutat. Res. 2004, 557, 85-97.
  27. Gosselin, R. E.; Hodge, H. C.; Smith, R. P.; Gleason, M. N. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, 4th ed.; The Williams and Wilkins Company: Baltimore, 1976; p 145.
  28. Busker, R. W.; van Helden, H. P. M. Toxicologic Evaluation of Pepper Spray as a Possible Weapon for the Dutch Police Force. Am. J. Forensic Med. Pathol. 1998, 19 (4), 309-316.
  29. Fuller, R. W. Pharmacology of inhaled capsaicin in humans. Respir. Med. 1991, 85 (Suppl. A), 31-34.
  30. Collier, J. G.; Fuller, R. W. Capsaicin inhalation in man and the effects of sodium cromoglycate. Br. J. Pharmac. 1984, 81, 113-117.
  31. Millqvist, E.; Ternesten-Hasseus, E.; Stahl, A.; Bende, M. Changes in levels of nerve growth factor in nasal secretions after capsaicin inhalation in patients with airway symptoms from scents and chemicals. Environ. ealth Perspect. 2005, 13 (7), 849-852.
  32. Miller, D. S. Review of oleoresin capsicum (pepper) sprays for self-defense against captive wildlife. Zoo Biol. 2001, 20, 389-398.
  33. Philip, G.; Baroody, F. M.; Proud, D.; Naclerio, 33. R. M.; Togias, A. G. The human nasal response to capsaicin. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1994, 94, 1035-1045.
  34. Tominack, R. L.; Spyker, D. A. Capsicum and Capsaicin - A Review: Case Report of the Use of Hot Peppers in Child Abuse. Clin. Toxicol. 1987, 25 (7), 591-601.
  35. Jang, J. J.; Devor, D. E.; Logsdon, D. L.; Ward, J. M. A 4-Week Feeding Study of Ground Red Chili (Capsicum annuum) in Male B6C3F1 Mice. Food Chem. Toxicol. 1992, 30 (9), 783-787.
  36. Lee, S. O. Studies on the influence of diets and lipotropic substances upon the various organs and metabolic changes in rabbits on long term feeding with red pepper. Korean J. Intern. Med. 1963, 6 (7), 383-395.
  37. Chanda, S.; Erexon, G.; Frost, D.; Babbar, S.; Burlew, J.-A.; Bley, K. 26-week dermal oncogenicity study evaluating pure trans-capsaicin in Tg.AC hemizygous mice (FBV/N). Intern. J. Toxicol. 2007, 26, 123-133.
  38. McMahon, S. B.; Lewin, G.; Bloom, S. R. The consequences of long-term topical capsaicin application in the rat. Pain 1991, 44, 301-310.
  39. R.E.D. Facts Capsaicin; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 1992.
  40. Blanc, P.; Liu, D.; Juarez, C.; Boushey, H. A. Cough in Hot Pepper Workers. Chest 1991, 99, 27-32.
  41. Marques, S.; Oliveira, N. G.; Chaveca, T.; Rueff, J. Micronuclei and sister chromatid exchanges induced by capsaicin in human lymphocytes. Mutat. Res. 2002, 517, 39-46.
  42. Proudlock, R.; Thompson, C.; Longstaff, E. Examination of the potential genotoxicity of pure capsaicin in bacterial mutation, chromosome aberration, and rodent micronucleus tests. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 2004, 44, 441-447.
  43. Toth, B.; Gannett, P. Carcinogenicity of lifelong administration of capsaicin of hot pepper in mice. In Vivo 1992, 6, 59-63.
  44. Akagi, A.; Sano, N.; Uehara, H.; Minami, T.; Otsuka, H.; Izumi, K. Non-carcinogencity of capsaicinoids in B6C3F1 mice. Food Chem. Toxicol. 1998, 36, 1065-1071.
  45. Richeux, R.; Cascante, M.; Ennamany, R.; Sabureau, D.; Creppy, E. E. Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of capsaicin in human neuroblastoma cells SHSY-5Y. Arch. Toxicol. 1999, 73, 403-409.
  46. Lopez-Carrillo, L.; Lopez-Cervantes, M.; Robles-Diaz, G.; Ramirez-Espitia, A.; Mohar-Betancourt, A.; Meneses-Garcia, A.; Lopez-Vidal, Y.; Blair, A. Capsaicin consumption, Heliobacter pylori postitivity and gastric cancer in Mexico. Intern. J. Cancer 2003, 106, 277-282.
  47. Chanda, S.; Sharper, V. A.; Hoberman, A. M.; Bley, K. Developmental toxicity study of pure trans-capsaicin in rats and rabbits. Intern. J. Toxicol. 2006, 25, 205-217.
  48. Fang, J.; Tsai, M.; Huang, Y.; Wu, P.; Tsai, Y. Percutaneous absorption and skin erythema: quantification of capsaicin and its synthetic derivatives from gels incorporated with benzalkonium chloride by using non-invasive bioengineering methods. Drug Develop. Res. 1997, 40, 56-67.
  49. Kawada, T.; Suzuki, T.; Takahashi, M.; Iwai, K. Gastrointestinal Absorption and metabolism of Capsaicin and Dihydrocapsaicin in Rats. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 1984, 72, 449-456.
  50. Saria, A.; Skofitsch, G.; Lembeck, F. Distribution of capsaicin in rat tissues after systemic administration. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1982, 34, 273-275.
  51. Donnerer, J.; Amann, 51. R.; Schuligoi, R.; Lembeck, F. Absorption and Metabolism of capsaicinoids following intragastric administration in rats. Naunyn Schmiedeberg's Arch. Pharmacol. 1990, 342, 357-361.
  52. Reilly, C. A.; Yost, G. S. Metabolism of capsaicinoids by P450 enzymes: a review of recent findings on reaction mechanisms, bio-activation, and detoxification processes. Drug Metab. Rev. 2006, 38, 685-706.
  53. Reilly, C. A.; Ehlhardt, W. J.; Jackson, D. A.; Kulanthaivel, P.; Mutlib, A. E.; Espina, R. J.; Moody, D. E.; Crouch, D. J.; Yost, G. S. Metabolism of capsaicin by cytochrome P450 produces novel dehydrogenated metabolites and decreases cytotoxicity to lung and liver cells. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2003, 16, 336-349.
  54. Onozaki, H.; Asai, H.; Isshiki, S.; Esaki, H. Bacterial metabolism of vanillylamine and vanilline. Hakkokagu Kaishi 1986, 64, 425-430.
  55. Sterner, R. T.; Kimball, B. A. Slow migration of capsicum oleoresin in a sandy loam soil. Int. Biodeterior. Biodegradation 2005, 56, 188-191.
  56. Sterner, R. T.; Ames, A. D.; Kimball, B. A. Persistence of capsicum oleoresin in soil. Int. Biodeterior. Biodegrad. 2002, 49, 145-149.
  57. Meat Meal and Red Pepper; Exemption from the Requirement of a Tolerance. Fed. Regist. March 27, 1996, 61 (60), 13424- 13426.
  58. Tewksbury, J. J.; Reagan, K. M.; Machnicki, N. J.; Carlo, T. A.; Haak, D. C.; Calderon Penaloza, A. L.; Levey, D. J. Evolutionary ecology of pungency in wild chilies. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2008, 105 (33), 11808-11811.
  59. Tewksbury, J. J.; Levey, D. J.; Huizinga, M.; Haak, D. C.; Traveset, A. Costs and benefits of capsaicin-mediated control of gut retention in dispersers of wild chilies. Ecology 2008, 89 (1), 107-117.
Facebook Twitter Youtube