“If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other”
– – Dr. Richard Schulze, medical herbalist
Cayenne pepper is said to be one of the most important and effective spices available to man.
What Is Cayenne Pepper?
Although it is technically a spice, it is also referred to by many herbalists and the alternative health community as a herb.
The name ‘Cayenne’ comes from the Cayenne region of French Guiana where it originated.
The cayenne pepper is also known as ‘red-hot chili pepper’.
It is a perennial plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall and produces a bright crimson color fruit (also known as berries) that, when fresh, contain plump white seeds.
The seeds are ground down to produce a fine dark red or brown color pepper.
These chilies are grown largely in India, East Africa, Mexico and the US, although can be found in any tropical or sub-tropical region.
Apart from giving you hot flushes and making you sweat when you eat them, I always thought these peppers and the powder were just used to spice up food and to add color to ethnic dishes.
But its benefits are far greater and more profound than that.
Although cayenne pepper is a opular spice used in a number of foods, it has been used medicinally for hundreds and even thousands of years.
There are accounts of its natural health benefits dating back as far as the Aztecs.
The medical herbalist, Dr. Richard Schulze, says that “If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other.”
The main active and medicinal component found in cayenne peppers is capsaicin.
Capsaicin is actually an irritant that produces a burning sensation to any tissue in comes into contact with.
But it is this ingredient that give peppers their heat.
As a rule, the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains.
So hotter the better!
Cayenne Pepper: Used Externally
When used externally, capsaicin is a natural pain reliever and is used extensively to treat chronic pain, cluster headaches, toothache, sore throats, muscle pain, joint pain, and psoriasis and nerve pain such as shingles.
Without going into detailed medical terminology, it works by incorporating a condition known as a ‘counter-irritant’.
A counter irritant occurs when you apply a specific irritation to the infected tissue, therefore distracting from the original irritation (such as muscle pain from a sprain).
It causes the original pain signals to the brain to become blocked.
So it acts as a pain relief rather than a cure.
This discovery is recognized by both holistic and conventional medical practitioners and recommended to both sets of patients.
Arthritis sufferers in particular can benefit from capsaicin to help ease the inflammation and pain associated with their symptoms.
Cayenne Pepper: Consumed Orally
Cayenne pepper is more likely to be consumed by the majority of us through adding it to ingredients in our food, but it can also be taken internally specifically to help our bodies with certain ailments.
When consumed orally, cayenne stimulates our stomach secretions and saliva (gastric juices) which helps to soothe the digestive tract.
This all goes to help break down the food we eat and improves overall digestion which can alleviate gastrointestinal tract conditions such as stomach aches, cramps, bloating and gas.
Apparently, Chinese medicine uses cayenne extensively to treat these conditions.
Cayenne pepper also improves the effectiveness of other herbs which indirectly makes it even more beneficial.
This hot little herb has also shown to contain ulcer fighting properties by inhibiting the growth of H. Pylori, the bacteria that can often cause stomach ulcers.
Many herbalists claim that cayenne benefits the heart and cardiovascular system by reducing cholesterol levels as well as enhancing blood circulation through the veins and arteries, and it discourages blood clotting.
It is hard to pin down accurate research on these particular claims and it seems more research is needed to validate them.
What is very exciting for a lot of people is the use of cayenne for weight loss.
Studies have shown that it can help boost our body’s metabolism and burn off more fat.
Cayenne Pepper Facts:
Latin Name: Capsicum fastigiatum
Other Names: Bird’s Beak, Chilliepin, Guinea Pepper, Guinea spice, Cow Horn Pepper, aleva or bird pepper, red hot chili peppers
Family: SOLANACEAE It is a member of the tomato, pepper, eggplant, morning glory, and nightshade family
Bouquet: Dusty but slightly aromatic
Flavor: Hot, pungent and biting, although not as powerful as the hotter chilies
Check out this video for a full run-down on the health properties of Cayenne Pepper:
If you know of any other benefits, or you have any questions / comments, please share them with us below.
Photo: cayenne pepers – Mat Honan / Foter