Chilies are packed with heat, which not everyone can handle. But it seems chili molecules in the form of patches can greatly reduce pain in people with diabetes.

A study, published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, found spicy chili patches could help reduce pain in diabetic patients with nerve damage.

These patches contain capsaicin--the active spicy ingredient in chilies. In the study, the patches were found to heal damaged nerves in the feet of people with diabetes. In some cases, untreated nerve damage can turn into serious complications requiring amputation.

Among people with diabetes, there is an increased risk of nerve damage anywhere in the body due to the high blood glucose levels damaging the nerve fibers. This is known as neuropathy.

Neuropathy in the feet can lead to ulcers and even a loss of feeling in the affected area. Not only are ulcers and blisters a painful issue, but they can also become life-threatening if infected. If left unchecked, it may lead to amputations of the feet, IFLScience reported.

The symptom of loss of feeling does not occur in every individual. In some, the affliction can come with severe pain that current painkillers are incapable of healing. Pain management, often with antidepressants, is the only treatment available. However, there are no treatments for reversing or stopping the nerve damage. Moreover, drugs can come with unwanted adverse effects.

The study, led by researchers from Imperial College London and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, in collaboration with Diabetes U.K., wanted to see if capsaicin could be the answer to this problem. After all, capsaicin when applied topically as a cream or patch is known to reduce pain and even stimulate healing in some skin conditions.

For the study, researchers enrolled 75 people with diabetic neuropathy, many of which had pain in their feet. Some of these participants were treated with a patch containing 8% capsaicin, which is already on the market for other applications.

Volunteers were asked to record a pain diary every day, while nerve count and sensitivity analysis was conducted from samples taken by the researchers.

At the end of three months, it was found capsaicin patches significantly reduced pain in diabetic people when compared to the controls. Also, participants who received patches had higher counts of new nerves in their feet, the study found.

Despite encouraging results, more research is needed to understand the mechanism of action and efficacy of capsaicin as a neuropathy treatment. Nevertheless, it is a good start.

In other news, diabetes drugs have been making the headlines recently for their weight-loss benefits. And now another diabetes medication has been found to reduce the risk of dementia by half.

“Pioglitazone use is associated with a lower risk of dementia in DM patients, particularly in those with a history of stroke or ischemic heart disease, suggesting the possibility of applying a personalized approach when choosing pioglitazone to suppress dementia in DM patients,” researchers said.