Topical Delivery System for Phytochemicals: Capsaicin and Capsicum Tincture

Capsaicin, an active ingredient of Capsicum fruit, is currently undergoing "revival" in the clinical management of pain. However, the choice of its formulation is rather limited to the use of "old-fashioned" tinctures and recently the patches. In an attempt to improve the therapeutic outcome and develop its skin-friendly formulation, we prepared the vesicle-based drug delivery system with capsaicin. Moreover, the use of standardized Capsicum extract, rather than a single active ingredient, is proposed to lead to simplified and more cost-effective formulations. Phospholipid-based vesicles, namely liposomes and ethosomes, were prepared with capsaicin, Capsicum tincture or Capsicum powder and characterized for particle size, entrapment efficiency and stability. The vesicular dispersions were incorporated in the hydrogels to increase the formulation stability, its retention time at the skin and overall acceptability. Both the standardized crude Capsicum powder and Capsicum tincture were successfully employed as sources of capsaicin which is, to the best of our knowledge, reported for the first time. The reported phospholipid-based delivery system for capsaicin could represent an improved topical treatment of arthritic pain.
Keywords: Capsaicin; Phytochemicals; Liposomes; Ethosomes; Arthritis; Pain

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