The cayenne pepper is a type of Capsicum annuum. It is usually a moderately hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes. Cayenne peppers are a group of tapering, 10 to 25 cm long, generally skinny, mostly red-colored peppers, often with a curved tip and somewhat rippled skin, which hang from the bush as opposed to growing upright. Most varieties are generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units
The fruits are generally dried and ground to make the powdered spice of the same name, although cayenne powder may be a blend of different types of peppers, quite often not containing cayenne peppers, and may or may not contain the seeds
Cayenne peppers, also known as Paprika, are often used as a natural fat burner and pain killer with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cayenne is used to heal ulcers, improve circulation, boost the immune system, aid digestion, nausea,scrofula, herpes, shingles, rheumatism, arthritis, pleurisy, Raynauds disease, bunions, psoriasis, pleuritis and pericarditis.
- It is used as a tonic for the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, spleen and stomach, and has been indicated for preventing heart disease. Cayenne can be used as a general stimulant to build up resistance at the beginning of a cold, tonsillitis, laryngitis, hoarseness, shingles, and for swollen lymph glands.
- It is known to combat chills. It is also said to increase fertility and delay senility.
- Recently, cayenne has been used successfully to treat patients with cluster headaches, a particularly painful type of headache. Studies have also shown that Cayenne Pepper can raise metabolic rates by as much as 25%. Used with Lobelia it can also help soothe nerves.
8 Impressive Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
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Many people consider cayenne peppers to be the king of medicinal herbs.
In fact, these peppers have been used for thousands of years to help treat many health problems.
Not only do they have medicinal properties, but cayenne peppers are also great for cooking and contain several beneficial nutrients.
What Are Cayenne Peppers?
Cayenne peppers are a type of chili pepper. They belong to the nightshade family of flowering plants and are closely related to bell peppers and jalapeños.
They were originally grown in Central and South America, but brought to Europe in the 15th century by Christopher Columbus.
Cayenne peppers are a popular spice used in many different regional styles of cooking, and they have been used medicinally for thousands of years.
These peppers boast an impressive nutrition profile, which includes a variety of antioxidants that are beneficial for your health.
One tablespoon (5 grams) of cayenne pepper contains the following
- Calories: 17
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Protein: 0.6 grams
- Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
- Manganese: 5% of the RDI
- Potassium: 3% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 3% of the RDI
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, is what gives them their medicinal properties.
It also gives them their hot taste. In fact, how hot a cayenne pepper is depends on its capsaicin content. The more capsaicin it contains, the hotter it is.
Here are 8 science-backed benefits of cayenne pepper.
1. May Boost Your Metabolism
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers has metabolism-boosting properties.
It helps increase the amount of heat your body produces, making you burn more calories per day (2Trusted Source).
It does this through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, which causes an increase in your metabolism.
In one study, people who ate a breakfast containing capsaicin and medium-chain triglyceride oil burned 51% more calories during that meal, compared to people who had neither for breakfast (3Trusted Source).
But while capsaicin helps boost metabolism, the overall effect is small.
In another study, people who ate 1 gram of red cayenne pepper only burned 10 more calories over four and a half hours, compared to those who didn’t eat any cayenne pepper
It’s also important to know that people who regularly consume cayenne peppers don’t continue to reap the same benefits from them over time, as their bodies adapt to the effects
2. Can Help Reduce Hunger
Interestingly, cayenne peppers may reduce your hunger, helping you eat less and feel fuller for longer.
Many studies show the capsaicin in cayenne peppers helps reduce hunger
How it does this is not completely understood, but one study showed that it reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin (9Trusted Source).
One study showed that people taking capsaicin ate less food throughout the day than those who didn’t take any. Specifically, those taking capsaicin supplements ate 10% less, while those who drank a captain-containing beverage ate 16% less (10Trusted Source).
People in the same study also reported feeling fuller, while eating fewer calories (10Trusted Source).
3. May Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a huge health risk worldwide. In fact, over 40% of adults over 25 have high blood pressure (11Trusted Source).
Interestingly, animal studies have shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may reduce high blood pressure.
One study in mice with high blood pressure showed that the long-term consumption of dietary spices containing capsaicin helped reduce blood pressure (12Trusted Source).
Another study showed that capsaicin helped relax blood vessels in pigs, leading to lower blood pressure
It’s important to note that the findings above are based on animals, and capsaicin’s effects may differ in humans. It is best to take these findings with a grain of salt.
4. May Aid Digestive Health
Dietary spices and their active components may provide many benefits for your stomach.
For example, cayenne pepper may help boost the stomach’s defense against infections, increase digestive fluid production and help deliver enzymes to the stomach, aiding digestion (14Trusted Source).
It does this by stimulating nerves in the stomach that signal for protection against injury (15Trusted Source).
While some believe that spicy food may cause stomach ulcers, a review paper has shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers may actually help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers (15Trusted Source).
5. May Help Relieve Pain
Capsaicin has potent pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin in a cream.
This is because capsaicin helps reduce the amount of substance P, a neuropeptide produced by the body that travels to the brain to signal pain (16Trusted Source).
When less substance P is produced, pain signals can no longer reach the brain, and feelings of pain decrease (17Trusted Source).
Capsaicin is available as a skin cream and is often recommended for the following conditions (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source):
Additionally, it’s important to note that capsaicin cream should not be applied to an open wound or broken skin.
6. May Improve Psoriasis
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your body attacks itself.
Psoriasis is an example of an autoimmune disease that appears as patches of red, itchy and scaly skin.
Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, capsaicin creams can help relieve itching and improve the appearance of psoriasis-affected areas (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
One study showed that psoriasis patients treated with capsaicin cream had significantly reduced scaling, redness and patchiness than patients who received a placebo cream (22Trusted Source).
It’s believed that substance P plays a role in psoriasis. As mentioned previously, capsaicin helps reduce the amount of substance P produced by your body (23Trusted Source).
7. May Reduce Cancer Risk
Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrollable cell growth.
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers shows promise in reducing the risk of cancer. It may do this by attacking many different pathways in the cancer cell growth process (24, 25Trusted Source).
In fact, studies have shown that capsaicin can slow the growth of cancer cells and even cause cell death for many different types of cancer, including prostate, pancreatic and skin cancer
While capsaicin’s effects on cancer cells seem promising, it’s important to note that the current findings are based on laboratory and animal studies.
Capsaicin’s effects on cancer in humans has not yet been studied, so it’s wise to take this information with a grain of salt.
8. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Cayenne pepper is easy to incorporate into your diet. It comes in different forms, including as a whole food, spice and supplement.
You can add a pinch of cayenne pepper spice to many of your favorite foods, such as eggs, homemade fries and even marinades.
Alternatively, you could slice whole cayenne peppers and add them to salads.
If you haven’t eaten a cayenne pepper before, be sure to do a small taste test to see if you can tolerate the heat, as they are very spicy.
What Makes Cayenne Pepper Bite?
Cayenne has a hot and acrid taste. This “bite” is caused by the constituent capsaicin. The more capsaicin a pepper has the more heat or bite it has. This amount varies greatly between species and varieties.
One method of measuring this bite or heat is the Scoville heat units (SHU). Cayenne has around 30,000 – 50,000 SHU. In contrast, bell peppers have 0 and habaneros have more than 100,000.
Evolutionary biology explains that the red fruit of capsicums attracts birds who seemingly love the fruit and are not affected by the hot taste. They then distribute the seeds. All mammals experience the bite of Capsicum species.
Many scientific studies use capsaicin as a standard isolated extract rather than using the whole cayenne herb.
Cayenne Pepper: Herbal Remedies
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Cayenne peppers can be used ina variety of herbal remedies from-indigestion to high blood pressure.
Are you a hot salsa or chili fan? Then you’ll want to learn more about the virtues of the cayenne pepper. These ripe fruits of the Capsicum genus are widely used as a popular spice, but cayenne peppers also are dried and powdered or tinctured for medicinal purposes. In this article, you will learn some herbal remedies using cayenne pepper as well as some precautions you should take when using this fiery plant.
Uses of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne stimulates digestion and muscle movement in the intestines, which helps restore deficient digestive secretions and aids absorption of food nutrients. (Stomach acid tends to decline with age, and some cases of poor digestion are related to a lack of this acid.)
Cayenne also stimulates circulation and blood flow to the peripheral areas of the body. Because it stimulates digestion and circulation, cayenne is often added to a wide variety of herbal remedies; it improves the absorption and circulation of the other herbs throughout the body.
Have you ever gone after the chips and salsa with gusto and then felt flushed and drippy in the nose? Cayenne warms the body and stimulates the release of mucus from the respiratory passages. Anyone who has eaten cayenne knows that hot peppers can clear the sinuses and cause sweating.
Cayenne actually can raise the body temperature a bit, as it stimulates circulation and blood flow to the skin. An herb such as cayenne or ginger that promotes fever and sweating is considered to have a diaphragmatic (sweat-inducing) action. This action can help reduce fevers and relieve such the congestion of colds and sinusitis.
Cayenne has become a popular home treatment for mild high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. Cayenne preparations prevent platelets from clumping together and accumulating in the blood, allowing the blood to flow more easily. Since it is thought to help improve circulation, it’s often used by those who have cold hands and feet.
You can use cayenne peppers topically as a pain-relieving muscle rub and joint liniment. The source of the heat is capsaicin, the fiery phenolic resin found in most hot peppers. Capsaicin causes nerve endings to release a chemical known as substance P. Substance P transmits pain signals from the body back to the brain.
When capsaicin causes substance P to flood out of the cells, you experience a sensation of warmth or even extreme heat. When the nerve endings have lost all of their substance P, no pain signals can be transmitted to the brain until the nerve endings accumulate more substance P. For this reason, topical cayenne pepper products are popular for the treatment of arthritis, bursitis, and for temporary relief of pain from psoriasis, herpes zoster, and neuralgia (nerve pain). These cayenne preparations are most appropriate for long-standing chronic conditions, not acute inflammations.
Cayenne often is found in diet and weight-loss formulas. But can eating hot peppers really help you lose weight? Probably not, but cayenne may support your diet and exercise efforts. Because it aids in digestion and absorption of nutrients, cayenne can reduce excess appetite that is due to malabsorption, a common condition in overweight people.
In the next section, you will learn how to prepare cayenne pepper for herbal remedies and some of the potentially dangerous side effects.
Native Americans have used cayenne (or red pepper) as both food and medicine for at least 9,000 years. The hot and spicy taste of cayenne pepper is primarily due to an ingredient known as capsaicin. Although it tastes hot, capsaicin actually stimulates a region of the brain that lowers body temperature. In fact, many people in subtropical and tropical climates consume cayenne pepper regularly because it helps them tolerate the heat.
The popularity of cayenne pepper has spread throughout the world, and it has become an important spice, particularly in Cajun and Creole cooking, and in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, China, Southern Italy, and Mexico. As well as being an important spice in many ethnic cuisines, cayenne has also been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean medicines as a remedy for digestive problems, appetite stimulation, muscle pain, and frostbite. Today, topical preparations of cayenne are used in the United States and Europe primarily to relieve pain associated with certain conditions such as arthritis, shingles (Herpes zoster), and cancer. Capsaicin is also a key ingredient in many personal defense sprays.