Are Spicy Foods IBS Triggers?

  • When a food is hot and spicy from chili peppers, it contains capsaicin. Capsaicin is what gives chilies their heat.

  • Capsaicin is a strong skin irritant that can cause heartburn, reflux, and indigestion. For some people this reaction can also trigger IBS symptoms.

  • Ironically, capsaicin may actually block pain signals. Chili peppers stimulate the release of endorphins, your body's natural pain killers. With chronic exposure to capsaicin, neurons are depleted of neurotransmitters, and this leads to a reduction in the sensation of pain.

  • Only chili peppers contain capsaicin. Black pepper and white pepper are unrelated to chili peppers.

  • However! Most hot and spicy foods are IBS triggers even without chili peppers. The greasy, cheesy, red meat content of favorites like chili dogs, tacos, curries, meatballs, etc. is a nightmare for IBS.

  • Why? It's not just the heat, it's the fat, which is a tremendous GI stimulant and can cause cramps, diarrhea, rebound constipation, and more.



  • If you love the heat of chili peppers and can't do without, try small quantities in a low fat, high soluble fiber, trigger-free recipe and see how you do.

  • If you can't tolerate chili peppers at all, this does not mean you have to stick to bland foods!

  • Almost all other herbs and spices are digestive aids that can actively help Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

  • Helpful Savory Herbs
  • Helpful Sweet Spices
  • It's hard to find an herb or spice that is NOT a digestive aid!

Tip Takeaway: Avoid chili peppers, or carefully check your tolerance in low fat, high soluble fiber, trigger-free recipes. Otherwise, stick to the wonderful world of herbs and spices that add flavor and actively help IBS!

See all IBS Quick Tips!