Receptors for capsaicin, the molecule that makes hot peppers hot, (TRPV1) are also pain receptors. People who eat lots of capsaicin overstimulate and kill those neurons. It improves their health. Just blocking the receptors works too. An anti-migraine drug which does that could improve sugar metabolism, increase longevity and reduce pain for humans too.
The receptor is also found in nerve fibers that contact the pancreas, where it stimulates the release of substances that cause inflammation or, like CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide), prevent insulin release. Insulin promotes the uptake of sugar from the blood and storage in the body's tissue, including fat.
... mice genetically manipulated to lack TRPV1 receptors lived, on average, nearly four months -- or about 14 percent -- longer than normal mice. The TRPV1-deficient mice also showed signs of a youthful metabolism late in life, due to low levels of CGRP -- a molecule that blocks insulin release resulting in increased blood glucose levels and thus could contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Receptor blockers could not only relieve pain, but increase lifespan, improve metabolic health and help diabetics and the obese.
Moreover, old mice treated with the anti-migraine drug, which inhibits the activity of CGRP receptors, showed a more youthful metabolic profile than untreated old mice.
"Our findings suggest that pharmacological manipulation of TRPV1 and CGRP may improve metabolic health and longevity," said Dillin, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Distinguished Chair in Stem Cell Research. "Alternatively, chronic ingestion of compounds that affect TRPV1 might help prevent metabolic decline with age and lead to increased longevity in humans."
I hope a practical therapy for humans won't involve eating way more capsaicin than we're used to!