CapsicumCayenneChildrenChinese MedicineCochrane LibrarySurgery

Capsicum plaster to control pain following inguinal hernia repair in children

Capsicum (Cayenne) is a category of plants used as spices, vegetables, and medicines. Think chili pepper, red or green pepper, bell pepper, and paprika.

In this study, capsicum plaster was applied at a classical Chinese acupoint to lessen pain in infants and children following surgery.

During the first 24 hours after inguinal hernia repair in children (4 months to 9 years old), placement of capsicum plaster at the Zusanli points (see drawing) reduced pain and meperidine (Demerol) use.

Pain, measured using the objective pain scale (OPS) and the Children Hospital of Ontario Pain Scale (CHEOPS), was significantly lower in children getting the capsicum treatment compared with the groups getting placebo at 6 and 24 hours after surgery — but not at 10 minutes and 1 hour after surgery.

The Cochrane Collaboration has reviewed herbal medicine for low back pain. They found that capsicum, as a pain reliever is better than placebo, although the quality of the studies was low.

The challenge in doing a study like this is to somehow get accurate pain information from infants and children. The tools used (OPS and CHEOPS) are accepted measures of acute pain. The criticism is that they become less accurate over time, making them insensitive after the first hour or so after surgery.

The bottom line?
This study is a good example of why additional studies to confirm or refute original research results are so important.

Under challenging circumstances these researchers did the best they could. The next step is for an independent group of qualified researchers to repeat the study and see if the results hold up.

Illustration: Yeh Acupuncture

1/6/07 15:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.