Experts weigh in on the viral claim that eating a whole orange, slathered in cinnamon and cayenne pepper, can induce a bowel movement in minutes
A viral video claims that slathering an orange in cayenne pepper and cinnamon, and eating the entire thing — peel included — can cure constipation in minutes
Experts say the fiber in oranges, or any food, cannot alleviate constipation that quickly
If you're experiencing constipation for more than three weeks, see a doctor
A viral video is claiming that eating an entire orange — including the peel — can immediately cure constipation.
The idea comes from Instagrammer @Lilsipper’s 2022 video, which has recently gone viral. In it, she claims that coating naval orange slices with cinnamon and cayenne pepper — and eating the entire thing, including the well-washed peel — can cure constipation “in about five minutes.”
In the caption for her video — which has more than 400,000 likes — Bethany explains that “Oranges contain naringenin, a flavonoid shown to help with constipation.”
And as for the spices, she says “Cayenne pepper and cinnamon contain capsaicin, which trigger your TRVP1 receptors (located in your mouth and also throughout your body and GI tract) and stimulate your GI tract—making things move through quite fast!”
But is this true, or is it pulp fiction?
“The fiber in orange peels isn’t anything special compared to other fibers,” Amy Brownstein, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition Digested, told Health.
And it’s certainly not going to work immediately, according to Danielle VenHuizen, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and owner of Food Sense Nutrition. “For a person prone to constipation, there is no way that eating a high-fiber food is going to produce immediate effects,” she told Health. “That’s just not how fiber works.”
She added that studies showing naringenin’s impact on bowel movements have only been done on mice and rats, not humans, as a National Library of Medicine study shows.
And while cinnamon and cayenne pepper may get things moving, they could cause more discomfort than relief, VenHuizen told the outlet.
“Capsaicin, in high doses, can trigger receptors that tell the intestines to start moving,” she said, adding, “Increasing activation of TRVP1 receptors by ingesting cinnamon and cayenne could contribute to greater GI pain and discomfort instead of directly stimulating the digestive tract.”
When it comes to eating the orange peel, it’s generally safe (although bitter); but experts caution about potential chemicals on the surface of the fruit.
“Pesticides are of concern when eating oranges,” Brownstein told Health. “If you choose to eat orange peels, thoroughly wash the peel and consume occasionally.”
If you’re constipated — which the Mayo Clinic describes as having three or fewer bowel movements a week — you should eat a high-fiber diet, which does include fruits, as well vegetables, beans, and whole-grain bread.
Prunes, especially, are recommended by the Mayo Clinic.
You should also stay hydrated — and avoid caffeinated beverages.
But if you’ve got blood in your stool, stomach pain, and remain constipated for longer than three weeks, the Mayo Clinic recommends you reach out to a doctor for further testing.
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