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Cayenne (Capsicum annuum, frutescens)cayenne peppers 150x150 Cayenne

Key Health Actions: Circulatory stimulant, heart, antimicrobial (antiseptic), aids digestion (carminative), draws blood to surface of the skin (rubefacient), relieves pain (local analgesic), antioxidant

Excerpt: The spicy flavor of cayenne pepper is familiar to all, and it is easy to imagine that a food with so much kick has powerful medicinal benefits.  Cayenne is used to relieve pain and to stimulate circulation in the body. It is added to lotions and salves to draw nutrition to and waste away from the tissue it contacts. Cayenne is an excellent source for vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene (Vitamin A precursor).  Cayenne pepper is used in cooking to add intense flavor to cuisine all over the world, and its medicinal benefits are recognized by herbalists everywhere. The smaller, redder and hotter the pepper, the more beta-carotene.

Discussion: Cayenne is a perennial shrub native to the tropical Americas.  It is now cultivated widely throughout the tropics, especially in Africa and India.  It has been used for hundreds of years as a culinary ingredient, bringing a hot, burning flavor to any dish to which it is added.

cayenne powder 150x150 CayenneCayenne’s main active constituents are called capsaicinoids.  These compounds are responsible for cayenne’s powerful stimulating affect on blood flow, as well as it pain relieving abilities.

Cayenne stimulates blood flow systemically, and strengthens the circulatory and nervous systems.  In cultures where cayenne pepper is used liberally, rates of heart disease run much lower. Linus Pauling Heart Institute states peppers help your HDL to LDL cholesterol levels by improving liver enzyme function to metabolize fats and stimulate circulation.

Capcaicin slows oxidation process of cooking oils and other liquids. Adding a pepper to your oil bottle after opening extends its useful life and reduces risk of potentially carcinogenic toxicity from rancid oil.

It is also useful for toning the digestive system.  It is effective when treating debilities caused by poor peripheral circulation, resulting in cold hands and feet.  Capsaicinoids also help to break up mucous in the sinuses and lungs, making cayenne useful when treating colds.

Externally, cayenne is used in a cream to relieve pain and itching.  Capsaicin, one of cayenne’s famous capsaicinoids, blocks the substance in the nerves which transmits signals of pain and itching to the spinal cord.  Studies have shown that capsaicin cream is useful when treating psoriasis, shingles, diabetic neuropathy, and postmastectomy pain. The hotter the taste of a pepper, the more capsaicin within its flesh. Most prescription pain relievers have concentrated capsaicin in them.

Cayenne is used as a gargle to relieve hoarseness and tonsillitis.

Adding cayenne to your diet may also help control weight.  Studies suggest that cayenne may speed up metabolic rate and the body’s ability to burn fat.

Cayenne is often added to other herbal mixtures to increase their effectiveness. Its general stimulative characteristics strengthen and stimulates other herbs actions. Adding cayenne as a spice to any dish boosts its nutritive value.

Tincture dosage for cayenne is .25-1 ml three times per day.

Sample Recipe:

0 Cayenne

Cooking Tips:

To maximize vitamin C levels of pepper, eat with iron source foods like whole grains and beans and sprouts). Seeds and all the flesh of peppers are packed with nutritional value. Use cayenne or paprika as salt substitutes to boost flavors. Add some to fruit juices and drinks, not just as spice to dishes, to boost nutritional value. It is the hot pepper in “bloody mary’s” that give that famous detox hangover drink much of its medicinal value (along with the celery).


  • Chevallier, Herbal Remedies, DK, 2007
  • Goulart, Super Healing Foods, Reward Books, 1995
  • contributions by Jennie Evans, OWC research team member and certified herbal nutritionist
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