But clearly for some people chillies can cause some indigestion. As in the mouth, capsaicin tricks the body into feeling painful heat, and the same is true when chillies pass through the stomach and intestine. When food is particularly spicy, this can be felt as a dull ache. Those who suffer irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are more likely to feel this. The intestine’s pain nerves are more sensitive when the gut is stretched with a lot of food – hence people who eat their meal quickly or who have a particularly large appetite are at increased risk for uncomfortable chilli cramps.
“A digestive reaction is far more likely if you do not often eat chillies often or you have a particularly fiery meal. The ‘shock’ can cause the intestines to squeeze food through more quickly – hence sending you to the bathroom,” reveals Dr Farrimond.
But studies show that over time, chillies seem to improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems, so (cautiously) persevere!