Many societies, especially those of the Americas and China, have a history of using cayenne pepper therapeutically. A powerful compound with many uses, cayenne pepper is currently gaining buzz for cleansing and detoxifying regimes such as the Master Cleanse, which uses the spice to stimulate circulation and neutralize acidity.
Cayenne pepper has been used for a variety of ailments including indigestion, confusion, tremors, gout, fever, flatulence, sore throat, hemorrhoids, menorrhagia in women, nausea, tonsillitis, scarlet fever, and diphtheria.[1, 2] Let’s take a look at some of the best health benefits cayenne pepper has to offer.
The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
1. Anti-Irritant Properties
Irritation can happen in the body for any number of reasons — diet, illness, and environmental toxins just to list a few. Ironically, cayenne can help "put out the fire" and ease an upset stomach, sore throats, coughs, and occasional diarrhea.
2. Clears Congestion
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3. Resists Harmful Organisms
When it comes to defense against harmful organisms, cayenne is a proverbial surgical flame thrower. In vitro tests have found that CAY-1, a compound found in cayenne peppers, effectively suppressed the development of 16 different fungal strains, while remaining completely non-toxic to animal cells.
4. Headache Remedy
This may be related to the pepper’s ability to stimulate a pain response in a different area of the body, thus diverting the brain’s attention to the new site. Following this initial pain reaction, the nerve fibers have a depleted substance P (the nerve’s pain chemical), and the perception of pain is lessened.
5. Digestive Aid
Cayenne is a well-known digestive aid. It stimulates the digestive tract, increasing the flow of enzyme production and gastric juices. This aids the body’s ability to metabolize food (and toxins). Cayenne pepper is also helpful for relieving intestinal gas. It stimulates intestinal peristaltic motion, aiding in both assimilation and elimination.
6. Anti-Redness Properties
Many health ailments result in swelling and redness throughout the body. Cayenne’s ability to soothe systemic cellular distress make it a great herb for many occasional conditions.
7. Helps Produce Saliva
Cayenne stimulates the production of saliva, an important component of digestion and maintaining optimal oral health.
8. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Cayenne pepper helps reduce atherosclerosis, encourages fibrinolytic activity, and prevents factors that lead to the formation of blood clots, all of which can help reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
9. Detox Support
Cayenne is a known circulatory stimulant. It increases the pulse of our lymphatic and digestive rhythms. By heating the body, the natural process of detoxification is streamlined. Cayenne also induces sweating — another important process of detoxification. Combined with lemon juice and honey, cayenne tea is an excellent morning beverage for total body detox.
10. Soothes Occasional Joint Discomfort
Extremely high in a substance called capsaicin, cayenne pepper sends chemical messengers from the skin into the joint, offering relief for occasional joint discomfort. For this reason, many people with stiff, sore joints use creams and lotion that contain cayenne.
11. Helps Preserve Food
12. Promotes Longevity
A study using data collected from almost half a million people found that those who ate spicy foods had a 14% chance of living longer than those that didn’t. Researchers also found that regular consumption of chili peppers aligned with reduced rates of death from respiratory disease, heart concerns, cancer.[12, 13]
13. Encourages Healthy Body Weight
Scientists at Laval University in Quebec found that participants who took cayenne pepper for breakfast were found to have less appetite, leading to less caloric intake throughout the day. Cayenne is also a great metabolic booster and aids the body in burning excess fat.
14. Promotes Heart Health
Animal studies found that capsaicin reduced serious heart arrhythmias and improved cardiac blood flow.
15. Remedy for Toothache
When applied directly to the site, cayenne may help ease the discomfort associated with a sore tooth.
16. Topical Remedy
As a poultice, cayenne has been used to treat snake bites, rheumatism, sores, wounds, and lumbago or lower back discomfort. More research is needed to determine it’s effectiveness.
17. Tastes Great!
This one is purely subjective, and those with sensitive palates may disagree, but many people find that a dash cayenne can add a little delicious zest to otherwise bland food.
Do you enjoy cayenne? Have you noticed any benefits from adding it to your diet? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
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- "Astounding Cayenne." Pilgrims Rest, Andrews University, Jan. 2011. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- "Herbal Extracts." Mercer.Edu, Mercer University. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Jolayemi, A.T., and JAO Ojewole. "Comparative Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Capsaicin and Ethyl-aAcetate Extract of Capsicum Frutescens Linn [Solanaceae] in Rats." African Health Sciences 13.2 (2013): 357–361. PMC. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
- Wongvibulsin, Shannon. "A Guide to Natural Ways to Alleviate Allergy and Sinusitis Symptoms." Explore Integrative Medicine, UCLA Health, 2014. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Renault, S., et al. "CAY-1, a Novel Antifungal Compound from Cayenne Pepper.” Medical Mycology., vol. 41, no. 1, 12 Mar. 2003, pp. 75–81. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Presser, Art. "Smart Supplementation - Cayenne." Huntington College of Health Sciences, 2009.
- "Spices Exotic Flavors & Medicines Chile Pepper." History & Special Collections UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 2002. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- "Cayenne." University of Utah Health Library, University of Utah, 2017. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Ehrlich, Stephen. "Cayenne." University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland, 22 June 2015. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Wahba, N.M., et al. "Antimicrobial Effects of Pepper, Parsley, and Dill and Their Roles in the Microbiological Quality Enhancement of Traditional Egyptian Kareish Cheese." Foodborne Pathogens and Disease., vol. 7, no. 4, 19 Nov. 2009, pp. 411–8. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Omolo, Morrine A., et al. "Antimicrobial Properties of Chili Peppers." Journal of Infectious Diseases and Therapy, vol. 02, no. 04, 2014. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- "Frequent Spicy Food Consumption Linked with Longer Life." Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 5 Aug. 2015. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Lv, Jun, et al. "Consumption of Spicy Foods and Total and Cause Specific Mortality: Population Based Cohort Study." The BMJ 351 (2015): h3942. PMC. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.