Capsaicin is the most predominant and naturally occurring alkamide found in Capsicum fruits. Since its discovery in the 19th century, the therapeutic roles of capsaicin have been well characterized. The potential applications of capsaicin range from food flavorings to therapeutics. Indeed, capsaicin and few of its analogues have featured in clinical research covered by more than a thousand patents. Previous records suggest pleiotropic pharmacological activities of capsaicin such as an analgesic, anti-obesity, anti-pruritic, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, and neuro-protective functions. Moreover, emerging data indicate its clinical significance in treating vascular-related diseases, metabolic syndrome, and gastro-protective effects. The dearth of potent drugs for management of such disorders necessitates the urge for further research into the pharmacological aspects of capsaicin. This review summarizes the historical background, source, structure and analogues of capsaicin, and capsaicin-triggered TRPV1 signaling and desensitization processes. In particular, we will focus on the therapeutic roles of capsaicin and its analogues in both normal and pathophysiological conditions.
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