Cayenne stimulates the brain to secrete endorphins and improves circulation by preventing blood platelet aggregation. It helps to relieve pain, not only due to the endorphin release it stimulates but also when used topically (always in diluted form) by helping to block the transmission of substance P, a neuropeptide that transports pain messages to the brain. It also opens congested nasal passages.
Topically, cayenne is very useful as a styptic for bleeding wounds. It (capsaicin) is a common ingredient in lotions and creams designed to relieve pain in arthritic joints, sprains, shingles, and bruises. Cayenne can also be prepared as a gargle to relieve a sore throat.
Tabasco pepper, African pepper, Aji Dulce, Bird Pepper, Capsicum, Chabai Achong, Chile, Chillies, Filfil, Filfil Darah, Hungarian Pepper, Kirmizi Biber, La Chiao, Mexican Chili, Paprika, Peppers, Piment De Cayenne, Piment Doux, Pimiento, Red Pepper, Sakaipilo, Sili Biberi, Sweet Pepper
South American Indians were enjoying hot pepper meals by 5000 BC. Members of the genus Capsicum are native to the Western hemisphere and were misnamed “pepper” by the Spanish explorers when they first encountered the herb, thinking it was the peppercorn of India. The name is from the Greek kapto, “I bite,” and is often called the biting plant. Cayenne pepper took its name from Cayenne in French Guiana where supplies originated. It is a close relative of the sweet red bell pepper and the chilli pepper, Capsicum annuum, and bought cayenne may also contain some of each type. Cayenne is less fiery than some varieties of chilli and is widely used in European, Creole, Cajun, Mexican and East Asian cuisines.
Decongestant, antipyretic, febrifuge, stimulant (gastric, metabolic, circulatory), spasmolytic, diaphoretic, carminative.
Externally rubefacient, antiseptic, analgesic, counter-irritant, vasostimulant activity.
Arthritis (topically), myalgia (topically), reduced or impaired peripheral circulation, intermittent claudication, diabetic foot pain, neuralgia (topically), digestive weakness, hypochlorhydria, to assist weight loss.
Arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, and sore muscles
Capsaicin in cayenne acts as a counterirritant, causing temporary pain to the skin that depletes the chemical messengers of pain for the joint. Applied as a cream, capsaicin permeates the skin, enters the nerve, and eliminates substance P, which stops the pain message from reaching the brain. Leaving a concentrated form on the skin for an extended period may cause skin irritation. However, a review of the medical literature failed to find overwhelming positive benefits over placebo in arthritis patients. In patients with diabetes who had nerve pain, the cayenne cream was effective in some patients, but burning was a frequent side effect, and many patients stopped using it. Another group of patients with diabetes and nerve pain experienced a significant reduction in pain status (a 45 percent reduction on the pain severity scale) using a 0.75 percent cream applied four times a day. Half of the patients improved or were cured. Cayenne seemed to relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis rather than those with the rheumatoid form of the disease. In another study, patients with osteoarthritis used a 0.75 percent cream four times a day for four weeks. Afterwards, they had less pain and were less tender. According to the German Commission E, cayenne is used for rheumatism and muscular soreness. Cayenne has been shown to reduce postoperative nerve pain after breast surgery, amputation, and thoracotomy.
A clinical study conducted by scientists at Laval University in Quebec found that eating cayenne at breakfast decreased appetite and led to lower fat and calorie intake throughout the day. Cayenne helps boost your metabolism and induces the body to burn off more fat instead of storing it in the body.
The herb’s heating qualities make it a valuable remedy for poor circulation. It improves blood flow to the hands and feet and to the central organs.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Powder: 100 – 500mg
Contraindicated in those with known sensitivity.
Occasional hypersensitivity. May cause painful irritation of mucous membranes even in very low concentrations – avoid contact, especially eyes. Do not apply to injured skin.
Interactions with other drugs
Balch, P. A., & Bell, S. J. (2012). Prescription for herbal healing (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Avery.
- British Herbal Medicine Association. Scientific Committee. (1983). British herbal pharmacopoeia (Consolidated ed.). West Yorkshire: British Herbal Medicine Association.
- Herbalpedia (2013)
- Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
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