The many health benefits of Cayenne Pepper
English Name: Cayenne Pepper or Cayenne Fruit
Latin Name: Capsicum annuum
What is Cayenne?
The cayenne pepper is a staple in cuisines from South and Central America, much like its more familiar cousin, the jalapeno pepper. Creole and many Asian cultures also incorporate this pungent, fiery pepper into their signature dishes. The peppers are usually red and slender and grow hanging from bushy plants that are native to the tropics but are now cultivated worldwide. The word cayenne is a corruption of an old Brazilian language word that literally means pepper, so it is thought that the river and city in French Guiana were named after the cayenne pepper, which European settlers found growing in abundance throughout the northern half of South America1.
How does Cayenne work?
The main active ingredient in cayenne peppers is capsaicin, which not only gives the peppers their spicy heat but also has analgesic qualities. Scientists think capsaicin helps reduce the perception of pain in a counter-intuitive way. It stimulates the release of a chemical called substance P that facilitates the transmission of pain signals from nerve fibers to the brain. By stimulating the production of this chemical with repeated applications, capsaicin helps deplete the nerve fiber’s store of substance P, which means it cannot transmit pain signals as well or as often. Capsaicin is also thought to be a vasodilator, meaning it causes veins or arteries to dilate or open wider, which can have various effects on the body’s systems. The pepper also contains high levels of vitamins B6, C and E, as well as potassium, manganese and flavonoids — all of which contribute to its healthful effects.
What are the benefits of Cayenne?
Clearly, mild pain relief is the main benefit of using cayenne pepper topically. Capsaicin is a common ingredient in many over-the-county creams and lotions aimed at relieving arthritis and other joint pain. Other topical applications include relieving the pain from shingles, diabetic neuropathy and muscle aches2. Ingesting cayenne can help manage a vigorous metabolism and maintain a healthy weight by stoking the body’s core temperature and reducing appetite. The vasodilating effects of cayenne may help improve circulation and manage optimal cholesterol levels, and like many spicy foods, cayenne can help shrink swollen nasal tissue and offer relief for congestion3. Vasodilation is also thought to help ease symptoms of migraine headaches.
Products featuring Cayenne
Practice Self Care
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The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.References:
- LD, Megan Ware RDN. "Cayenne Pepper: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Dietary Tips, and Risks." Medical News Today. January 03, 2018. Accessed November 02, 2018. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267248.php.
- Harvard Health Publishing. "Ask the Doctor: How Does Hot Pepper Cream Work to Relieve Pain?" Harvard Health. October 2011. Accessed November 02, 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/how-does-hot-pepper-cream-work-to-relieve-pain.
- "Capsicum: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning." WebMD. Accessed November 02, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-945/capsicum.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke