Cayenne Pepper ~ A Natural Wonder! Cayenne pepper adds spice to many flavorful dishes and health to those willing to take on its fiery heat. The "hotness" produced by cayenne is caused by its high concentration of capsaicin. Capsaicin has been widely studied for its pain-relieving effects, cardiovascular benefits, and ability to prevent ulcers. Capsaicin also effectively opens and drains congested nasal passages in addition to boosting the immune system making it a great natural cold and flu remedy. Additionally, the high concentration of vitamin A found in cayenne pepper also helps fight acne and other skin issues such as psoriasis.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
The Cayenne Pepper is a member of the Capsicum family of vegetables, more commonly known as chili peppers. It's known botanically as Capsicum annuum. Cayenne pepper adds spice to many flavorful dishes and health to those daring enough to take on its fiery heat. The "hotness" produced by cayenne is caused by its high concentration of a capsaicin. Capsaicin has been widely studied for its pain-relieving effects, its cardiovascular benefits, and its ability to prevent ulcers. Capsaicin also effectively opens and drains congested nasal passages in addition to boosting the immune system making it a great natural cold and flu remedy.
In addition to its high capsaicin content, cayenne peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin A, through its concentration of pro-vitamin A carotenoids including beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is not only a potent antioxidant, but can also be converted in the body to vitamin A, a nutrient essential for the health of all epithelial tissues (the tissues that line all body cavities including the respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts). Beta-carotene is therefore believed to be helpful in reducing the symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, its antioxidant activity make it useful in preventing the free radical damage that can lead to atherosclerosis, colon cancer, and diabetic complications, like nerve damage and heart disease. Additionally, Vitamin A is an essential nutrient in treating acne and many other skin disorders.
All chili peppers, including cayenne, contain a high level of capsaicin, which in addition to giving cayenne the "heat" its known for, is a potent inhibitor of substance P, a neuropeptide associated with the inflammatory processes. The hotter the chili pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. The hottest varieties of pepper include habanero and Scotch bonnet as well as cayenne peppers. Jalapenos then follow in their heat and capsaicin content, followed by milder varieties such as Spanish pimentos, and Anaheim and Hungarian cherry peppers.
Capsaicin continues to be studied as an effective treatment for sensory nerve fiber disorders, including pain associated with arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. In studies, animals injected with a substance causing inflammatory arthritis, while fed a diet that contained capsaicin, had delayed onset of arthritis and significantly reduced inflammation in their paws.
Natural Pain Relief
Capsaicin applied topically has been shown to be an effective treatment for cluster headaches (more severe than migraines) and pain from osteoarthritis. Additionally, many review studies of pain management for diabetic neuropathy listed the benefits of topical capsaicin in alleviating disabling pain associated with the condition. You can mix cayenne pepper with honey to form a paste to easily apply topically for rheumatic pains, pains of the joints, gout, and swellings.
Cayenne Pepper can also be taken internally to reduce inflation and pain associated with inflammation. As such cayenne applied topically and taken internally can reduce fatigue, restore stamina, relieve pain from stiff arthritic joints, fibromyalgia, low back pain, nerve pain cause by shingles and sciatica.
In a double-blind placebo controlled trial, approximately 200 patients with psoriasis were given topical preparations either containing capsaicin or a placebo. Patients given capsaicin reported significant improvement in the severity of symptoms associated with psoriasis. The side effect reported with topical use of capsaicin is a burning sensation in the area of application.
Cayenne and other red chili peppers have also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body's ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance vital to the formation of blood clots. Additionally, cultures around the world in which hot peppers like cayenne are used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
Capsaicin not only reduces pain, but its heat also stimulates secretions that help clear mucus from the body including mucus in the nose or lungs. Capsaicin is similar to a compound found in many cold remedies for breaking up congestion, except that capsaicin works much faster. A tea made with hot cayenne pepper very quickly stimulates the mucus membranes lining the nasal passages to drain, helping to relieve congestion and stuffiness. Next cold and flu season, give it a try by itself or purchase it with our Cold & Flu Season Package!
Cayenne peppers' bright red color signifies its high beta-carotene content or pro-vitamin A. As little as two teaspoons of cayenne pepper provide 47% of the daily value for vitamin A (see chart above). Vitamin A, often called the anti-infection vitamin, is essential for healthy epithelial tissues including the mucous membranes that line the nasal passages, lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract which serve as the body's natural first line of defense against invading pathogens.
Prevent Stomach Ulcers
A common misconception is that chili peppers, like cayenne, contribute to stomach ulcers, while in fact the opposite is true. Not only do they not cause ulcers, these hot peppers are believed to help prevent ulcers by killing bacteria you may have ingested, while stimulating the cells lining the stomach to secrete protective juices that prevent the formation of ulcers. The use of cayenne pepper is actually associated with a greatly reduced risk of stomach ulcers.
All the heat you typically feel after eating hot chili peppers takes energy (or calories) fory your body to produce. Even sweet red peppers have been found to contain substances that significantly increase thermogenesis (heat production) and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after eaten.