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Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

The Cayenne is a hot red chili pepper used to flavor dishes, and for medicinal purposes. Named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, it is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, and others. The capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powder, Cayenne pepper.

Cayenne is used in cooking spicy hot dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Szechuan cuisine) or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units. It is also used as a herbal supplement, and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his Complete Herbal.

Cayenne contains a pungent resin-like substance known as capsaicin. This chemical, the active ingredient of pepper spray or mace, relieves pain and itching by affecting sensory nerves. Capsaicin temporarily causes various neurotransmitters to release from these nerves, leading to their depletion. Without the neurotransmitters, pain signals can no longer be sent. The effect is temporary.

Capsaicin and other constituents in cayenne have been shown to have several other actions, including reducing platelet stickiness and acting as antioxidants.

By Dr. John R. Christopher

Capsicum is the botanical name for the red pepper group; there are three major categories:
Any 'red pepper' that has 1 BTU heat rating or under 1 BTU. This pepper is commonly called 'paprika'.
Any 'red pepper' above 1 BTU but less than 25 BTU's. These are called 'red peppers.'
Any 'red pepper' with 25 BTU, or more, can be labeled as Cayenne.


Cayenne reduces or even cures severe chronic allergic and nonallergic conditions that make people's noses run constantly.

Herbalist John R. Christopher suggests this formula for making a cayenne tincture:
Put one ounce of dried capsicum in a glass jar.
Add one pint of alcohol such as 150 proof.
Close the jar tightly and shake it four times daily.
Keep mixture in the jar for only two weeks and no longer.
Strain the liquid through a double-layered cheesecloth.

Begin this process at the start of a full moon (this should be new moon) for greater potency.
Store in an amber glass bottle. Seal tightly.
To use, place six drops of the tincture under the tongue twice daily or else dilute the same amount in six ounces of water or juice. Take on an empty stomach or between meals.

Note: if you are taking nitroglycerin for angina, do not discontinue medication or use this remedy without your physician's permission.

The anti-inflammatory action of cayenne is attributed to the effect of capsaicin on substance P. Substance P is a nervous system-derived chemical (a peptide), released in the spinal cord as well as from the peripheral nerve endings. This neuropeptide has multiple pro-inflammatory properties and is released in greater quantities from pain transmission nerves (the sensory afferent nerve fiber terminals) located in knee and ankle joints, where a great deal of arthritic swelling usually occurs. Excess substance P isn't good because it breaks down the cartilage cushions in joints, contributes to osteoarthritis. It also serves as a pain neurotransmitter in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In other words, overproduction of substance P in your system means you'll be feeling a great deal of pain.
- Capsaicin inhibits the activity of substance P.

Asthma, like arthritis, might be caused by an overproduction of substance P, and that excess receptors for it were in the lungs. A cayenne pepper tincture similar to the one given for angina might help to relieve the belabored breathing common the asthma.

Cayenne softens the arteries, dilates the circulatory system, strengthens the heart, and cleans the inner walls of the circulatory system.

Cayenne protects against blood clot formation by causing an increase in fibrinolytic (clot-dissolving) activity of the red blood cells.

The neurotransmitter called substance P is released from the peripheral neurons (those outside the brain and spinal cord) that transmit pain signals to the brain; this, in turn, helps regulate the response of the immune system to damaged tissue. People with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases have high numbers of receptors for substance P in their intestinal tissue. With too many substance P receptors in the intestinal tract, the immune system is apt to overreact, inducing enough inflammation to trigger the sensory neurons to send more pain signals and release more substance P. This viscous cycle eventually leads to autoimmune bowel disorders like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
- Nerve endings that release substance P are also present in the urinary bladder; when any inflammation occurs there, greater amounts of substance P are automatically released, thus exacerbating inflammation.
- Substance P content "was strongly reduced by 80 percent following pretreatment with a high dose of capsaicin" injected beneath the skin. Capsicum's properties can also substantially reduce the release of substance P in those suffering from various bowel diseases.

An ointment made by combining one part of cayenne pepper powder with five parts of melted Vaseline. The mixture was thoroughly blended and then allowed to cool until in congealed again. Apply this salve topically to injured skin or muscle tissue once a day for about a week.

Capsicum can protect the body against some known food and beverage chemicals that can cause cancer and induce cell mutations. (When capsaicin is taken with plant chlorophyll its mutagenic properties are suppressed.)

At the onset of symptoms take one teaspoon of cayenne powder in a glass of warm water with the juice of one lemon and a teaspoon of honey; stir thoroughly and drink slowly. The cayenne helps to flush out the bacteria and viruses responsible for the cold or flu by causing eyes to water, skin to sweat, nose to run, and lungs to discharge. This rush of fluids from the body carries out the invisible microbes responsible for such infections.

Cayenne strengthens and relaxes the heart, dilates the circulatory system, and clears accumulated debris. Over the long run, a seriously diseased heart can return to near normal with the regular use of Cayenne pepper.

Certain medicinal herbs are known for their strong hypoglycemic actions: garlic and onion, goldenseal and pau d'arco. Another equally potent hypoglycemic agent is cayenne pepper. For diabetes mellitus the recommended dose of cayenne is two to four capsules daily with means. The "hypoglycemic effect" means that the cayenne lowered blood sugar which is what insulin does because diabetics have high blood sugar. But for those already suffering from low blood sugar, cayenne is best avoided.

The topical application of capsaicin cream is quite safe and very effective in the treatment of pain ordinarily observed in patients experiencing diabetic neuropathy and diabetic polyneuropathy.

• When capsaicin was given regularly it increased the flow of protective mucus within the gut, thereby helping to heal duodenal ulcers.

The cholesterol-reducing properties of capsaicin have been studied by various biochemists and reported in the scientific literature. Capsaicin has been shown to help prevent cholesterol associated heart diseases such as arteriosclerosis and its more advanced for of atherosclerosis.

Medical researchers are also looking at the role of triglycerides in coronary artery disease and finding that these, more than cholesterol itself, may be to blame. (Triglycerides are neutral fats synthesized from carbohydrates for storage in body fat cells. When broken up by enzymatic action, they release free fatty acids in the blood.)

For general and chronic fatigue; capsaicin, by itself, can be very hypoglycemic, but when used in combination with equal amounts of ginseng and gotu kola, capsaicin can increase biochemical endurance during periods of emotional and physical stress.

Compounds known as antioxidants effectively check the free-roaming and ravaging behavior of free radicals. Capsorubin, a carotenoid associated with capsaicin in cayenne pepper, functions as an excellent antioxidant that diminishes the potentially harmful actions of the free radicals.

Feed the victim small amounts of powdered cayenne a number to times a day; this will stimulate the heart and blood to the damaged area; the dead tissue will drop away and new tissue will be in its place. This treatment can be painful, but it is effective.

Nasal sprays containing tiny amounts of capsaicin are used to treat the intense pain of cluster headaches; also capsaicin ointment applied to the temples, the ointment raised the temperature at the temples, which ordinarily experience a heal loss during cluster attacks. (Keep the ointment away from the eyes.)

A useful remedy from the Maya Indians of Belize calls for a warm tea made from cayenne pepper to be used in breaking up congestion in the nose, head and sinuses. Add one eighth teaspoon of cayenne to a cup of hot water.

Capsaicin reduced ventricular tachycardias and ventricular fibrillations. Capsaicin also dramatically improved blood flow to the heart. Capsaicin seems to function as a natural calcium blocker, analogous to the effect of some prescription heart drugs.

Dr. John R. Christopher used this formula: (1) steep one teaspoon of powdered cayenne in one cup of hot water until it is cool enough to drink; (2) if the patient can breathe normally, prop up the patient and pour the cayenne tea down the person's throat. Usually within a couple of minutes the heart attack will have ceased. Also, in an emergency, where very quick action is indicated, the alcohol/cayenne tincture described above can be administered by placing a few drops beneath the tongue.

Because of its tonic effect on the heart and circulatory system cayenne pepper is an excellent remedy for all manner of heart disease. In places where cayenne is a frequent part of the diet (Mexico, South East Asia, India, and the state of New Mexico), heart disease rates are lower.

Cayenne pepper, a familiar medicinal and culinary spice with well known heating properties, can produce an opposite reaction. When taken in small amounts, it stimulates circulation and the digestive processes. But, when consumed in large amounts it will cause a cooling effect. This helps to explain why people living in hot tropical climates are apt to eat a lot of cayenne. The cooling sensation is produced in two different ways. In one way the body (especially the face) starts to sweat; the more perspiration that gathers on the skin, the cooler a person will feel. The other way is through the release of endorphins by capsaicin into the bloodstream of people who eat cayenne pepper. These natural opiates in the brain affect the body's own internal temperature, lowering it a few degrees.

Utah Herbalist Dr. John R. Christopher was a strong proponent of cayenne pepper, believing it to stop bleeding better than anything else in the plant kingdom.

The herpes family of viruses is divided into a variety of types. The varicella zoster type is responsible for two very distinct clinical disorders, namely primary varicella (chicken pox) and zoster (shingles). This particular kind of herpes virus is capable of affecting nerves and causing organ damage and severe pain that can last for months or even years. Cayenne pepper taken internally or the topical application of any capsaicin cream will help to minimize agonizing pain that can persist during and long after the viral infection is gone.

Cayenne lowers blood pressure. Also Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar lowers blood pressure.

In the early-to-middle part of the 19th century there thrived an eclectic system of alternative medicine known as Thomsonian medicine. One of its outstanding features was the limited number of primary herbs repeatedly utilized, although many other secondary herbs were used occasionally. Samuel Thomson, the system's founder, recommended cayenne pepper the goldenseal root for their excellent healing properties. Of cayenne he said: "I am perfectly convinced that cayenne pepper is the best thing that can be used to produce a natural digestion of the food which will nourish the body, establish perspiration, and restore the health of the patient. I found it to be perfectly safe in all cases, and have never known any bad effects to arise from its use."
-He frequently used it in cases involving disturbances of the gastrointestinal tract. Capsaicin in the red pepper dramatically increased gastric secretions within the gut but did no actual harm. More specifically, the number of goblet cells (mucus secreting cells) in the duodenum portion of the small intestine increased in the presence of capsaicin.

Anyone at all familiar with the role of vitamin C in the health care process knows that it is the number one nutrient for warding off or treating existing infections in the body. But what isn't so well known is the part that a species of capsicum played in its discovery. Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi had been studying enzymes for years when he identified an active chemical, which he labeled "hexuronic acid." Hexuronic acid was found to be effective against scurvy and further tests revealed it to be a powerful nutrient, soon the chemical was renamed ascorbic acid. Szent-Gyorgyi found that red pepper contained large amounts of ascorbic acid.

People who suffer from severe itches i.e., pruritis, notalgia, parasthetica, and lichen simplex chronicus experience noticeable improvement when treated topically with any of the capsaicinoid creams.

Use cotton or wool which has been impregnated with capsaicin to successfully treat cases of lumbago, neuralgia, or rheumatism. The treated material is applied to the skin and left on for 20 minutes, use as frequently as needed.

Cayenne pepper is quite effective in dealing with motion sickness. A teaspoonful of cayenne in a tablespoon of olive oil taken internally at the first sign of nausea will help to prevent further symptoms of sea or air sickness. Or one-half teaspoon full each of cayenne and ginger root (chopped very fine or pulverized) in olive oil.

Oral stomatitis is a very painful condition of mouth sores caused by cancer chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The sores can be overwhelming to the point that some individuals can't chew food and must, therefore, cease treatment for their cancers. But in a very innovative way, capsaicin was used to treat this serious problem in cancer patients. The capsaicin was administered through candy; cook butterscotch brittle with capsaicin; cancer patients who consumed the candy with delight, reported feeling no more pain afterwards.

Use cayenne pepper with those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, IN THE EARLY STAGES ONLY. Taking four capsules of cayenne each day with food for several months, their symptoms subsided to a remarkable degree, but didn't entirely disappear.

Capsaicin is capable of reducing the sensation of painful inflammation in the sensory nerves and the pain-sensitive nerve terminals. Both topical creams and oral supplementation appear to work equally well to achieve this.

Controlled studies have demonstrated that topically applied capsaicin is a very safe and effective treatment for neuralgia.

Historian Garcilaso de la Vega described what he had heard form someone else in 1609: "I heard a Spaniard from Mexico declare that cayenne pepper was very good for the sight, so he used to eat two roasted peppers as a sort of dessert after every mean." A number of Mexican Indians have said that regular consumption of cayenne and chile peppers kept their eyesight from failing as they grew older.

Capsaicin can burn extra calories in a way similar to exercise.

For the past several years a growing body of medical evidence has been gathering; demonstrating capsaicin's unique ability to stop the sensation of pain within the body. Capsaicin works by desensitizing small-diameter nerve fibers, the ones responsible for pain. But it has no effect on large-diameter nerve fibers.

Capsicum might actually protect against peptic ulcers, a suggestion that is counter intuitive. The capsaicin protects the gastric mucosal membrane against damage from alcohol and aspirin; it does this by stimulating a hormone that increases blood flow and nourishes the gastric mucosal membrane.

Mixing small amounts of cayenne pepper with various foods, made the foods more appetizing to those who had no real desire to eat.

The prescription cream Zostix, whose mail ingredient is capsaicin, has helped a number of older people suffering form psoriasis and shingles. When the cream was applied topically, it blocked the synthesis and nerve transport of substance P, the chemical largely responsible for the skin pain induced by these skin diseases.

The ancient Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula and the Guatemalan Highlands routinely incorporated cayenne pepper into their materia medica for the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, coughs, colds, sore throats and other respiratory disorders.

For pain relief apply capsaicinoid cream to the patients shingles-sensitive skin.

The Irish developed a great remedy for instant relief from excruciating toothache. One level teaspoon of cayenne pepper was combined with one pint of strong Irish whiskey and left to sit for two weeks, being thoroughly shaken every day. The solution was then strained into another bottle and stored until needed in a cool, dark, dry place. About four drops of this pepper extract could be put on a cotton ball and inserted into the mouth onto the infected tooth. Within minutes, the distressing pain disappeared.


For sprains and bruises: create a salve with one teaspoon of powered cayenne pepper to five tablespoons of melted Vaseline. This salve can also be used to treat mumps in children and leg ulcers in older people with poor circulation.

Cayenne is an effective remedy against snakebite: mix a little powdered cayenne with some of the victim's own saliva and then apply this directly over the punctured skin where the fang marks are still evident. Cayenne renders most poisons inert.

For abscesses/boils: apply cayenne pepper fluid extract to the abscess or boil. It will bring the stigma to a head as well as aid the drying and mending process.

For abrasions: sprinkle a tiny amount of cayenne pepper on a small clean cut to stop the bleeding and promote healing.

For asthma attack: mix a pinch of cayenne pepper in with some hot chocolate and sip slowly.

For bleeding lungs: take a quarter of a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper every day for a week or two.

For bone knitting: take equal parts of valerian root and cayenne pepper, along with some vitamin C (3500 mg. Daily) to dull the pain of any break and fracture and help knit bones together more quickly.

For Bursitis: create a skin rub, thus: a tablespoon of cayenne pepper and add to about a pint of rubbing alcohol. The mixture should be left to set "at room temperature in a dark place until the alcohol is really bright red. Then strain and use as an external rub. It is great for arthritis and bursitis.

For burning sensation in the mouth: slowly drink a glass of milk. The casein in milk washes away the capsaicin.

For coughing: combine in a glass the juice of one-half lemon with one-half cup of warm water. Then stir in one tablespoon of salt and one-quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Gargle with it for as long and as deeply as you can tolerate before expectorating. Do not swallow!

For food poisoning: cayenne pepper kills many of the bacteria that are responsible for food poisoning, and kills them very quickly.

For hypothermia: rub cayenne pepper over the skin on the feet before putting socks and shoes on; also can use a cayenne oleoresin.

For influenza: There is a synergy between capsaicin and ascorbic acid. Vitamin C works much better when some cayenne pepper accompanies it than when taken alone. The vitamin C remains in the body almost twice as long and works more powerfully than by itself. One capsule of cayenne for every 1000 mg., of vitamin C. A better formula is: is Garlic, Goldenseal, Cayenne Pepper and Vitamin C.

For insects: most insects detest cayenne pepper. Mix with Clove Oil; or garlic and onion; or Peppermint Oil.

For insects on plants: blend cayenne, garlic, and onion; then cook in one quart of water for about 90 seconds; strain and dilute into two gallons of water with two tablespoons of soap. Spray on plants to kill virtually all bugs.

For kidney problems: for inactive kidneys use a combination of essential oils of Cayenne Pepper, Cumin and Oregano; apply topically over the kidneys in about a 8% solution. These herbs can also be taken internally for the same effect, or in a complementary regimen. This formula also alleviates pain that accompanies kidney stones; This formula stimulates the lymph system and produced more beautiful skin.
For menstrual problems: irregular menses may be corrected by taking two cayenne pepper capsules daily with a meal. There will often be less cramping and less bleeding with this regimen.

For morning sickness: two capsules each of catnip herb and cayenne pepper every morning should help to prevent morning sickness in women who are in the first trimester of their pregnancies.

For nose bleeding: take internally one-eighth teaspoon of cayenne; watch the bleeding, if it continues, take another one-eighth teaspoon; continue over time until the bleeding stops.

For Pleurisy: make a rub using equal parts of cayenne pepper, lobelia herb and slippery elm bark, all in powdered form. Next, mix in a little cod liver oil or castor oil, and stir thoroughly with a fork until a smooth paste is formed. Apply this over the chest four times daily; cover with a piece of plastic and then a flannel cloth.

For Raynaud's Disease: this syndrome manifests itself as extreme sensitivity of the hands and fingers to cold as a result of spasm of the digital arteries. Other symptoms include blanching and numbness or pain of the fingers. Take 400 mg. of Cayenne Pepper every day with food.

For sinusitis: take cayenne pepper with each meal; a heaping one eighth teaspoon with each bowel of soup; smaller amounts with tea.

For sore muscles: blend Camphor or Eucalyptus Oil with Wintergreen Oil and Cayenne Oleoresin in a carrier oil to about 10% strength. Rub on sore muscles.

For sore throat: mix cayenne pepper, honey, and grapefruit juice; then gargle, and swallow.

Sprains: a wonderful liniment for sprains can be made by slowly simmering one tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder in one pint of apple cider vinegar. Bottle the unstrained liquid while it is still hot. When needed, reheat the liquid and soak an elastic cloth bandage with some of this liquid and snugly wrap the sprain. Note of caution: prolonged application of a cayenne pepper liniment or rub to the skin may produce irritation, blisters or even burns, thus include some castor oil to protect the skin.

For tonsillitis: one-half cup of hot water, one-fourth teaspoon of honey, a squirt of lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper in the form of a periodic gargle; administer several times a day.

Any statements made on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition. Always consult your professional health care provider.

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