Anybody that enjoys spicy food will be familiar with the kick that cayenne pepper can give to their meals but fewer will be aware of the many potential health benefits that this spicy little gem can confer.
As well as its familiar use in cooking, it is available in capsule and cream form and is used for a wide variety of therapeutic uses from digestive conditions to pain relief.
The cayenne pepper is packed with excellent nutrition including vitamins C, E, K and B6. It also contains high levels of potassium, manganese and flavonoids with very potent antioxidant abilities.
Perhaps more significantly cayenne peppers contain a chemical known as capsaicin which has the ability to relieve pain when applied topically and has potential applications for headaches, migraines, arthritis and neuralgia.
The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Let’s go ahead and take a more detailed look at the many health benefits that cayenne pepper can confer.
1. Digestive Aid
It may appear strange at first glance that a spicy pepper can have very positive effects on the digestive system but it really does have the ability to deal with a range of digestive complaints.
It stimulates the production of saliva which is vital for good digestion while it also stimulates the flow of digestive enzymes which help your body to break down food more effectively. Basically cayenne pepper can help relieve heartburn, indigestion and ease stomach pain and bloating.
2. Migraine Relief
When it comes to pain relief, cayenne peppers have enormous potential. The heat that they produce can stimulate pain responses in other areas of the body which means that the brain pays less attention to the pain caused by your migraine or headache. It is basically a neat trick that you are playing on your brain resulting in much needed migraine relief.
3. Joint and Nerve Pain Relief
The pain relieving ability of cayenne pepper is not limited to headaches and migraine. The same applies to other forms of pain caused by conditions including arthritis and neuralgia.
When it is applied topically it helps to reduce the level of a chemical responsible for sending pain messages to the brain known as substance P. Les of this substance means that pain messages do not get to the brain resulting in significant pain relief.
Several promising studies have demonstrated cayenne pepper’s incredible ability to reduce pain following extremely painful surgical procedures like mastectomies and amputations. Cayenne pepper can also help alleviate pain caused by diabetic neuralgia, arthritis, fibromyalgia and rheumatism.
We are all familiar by now with the need to detoxify the body and eliminate harmful toxins from the system. Cayenne pepper helps with the detoxification process by stimulating circulation and opening up the capillaries.
It also helps to eliminate excess acidity and regulate blood sugar levels. Cayenne pepper helps bind toxins to each other and facilitates their elimination from the body.
5. For Ulcers and Stomach Irritations
Cayenne pepper has excellent natural anti-irritant abilities which gives it the potential to treat numerous internal irritations including stomach ulcers, stomach upset, coughs and diarrhea.
Despite the traditional belief that cayenne pepper might irritate the stomach, research has indicated that the opposite is true. According to research, the capsaicin found in cayenne peppers does not contribute towards ulcers but actually helps heal them.
6. For Blood Clots
Cayenne peppers contain compounds which help stimulate fibrinolytic activity which can help prevent dangerous blood clots. It helps to dilate the arteries which in turn improves the flow of blood and can help prevent heart attacks and clotting.
7. For Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that is characterized by scaly patches of skin. It is caused because the cells of the skin replicate at an excessive rate resulting in too much skin being produced.
Several studies have showed that capsaicin cream applied topically may be a very effective treatment for psoriasis. One clinical study using 44 participants over a 6 week period showed that it resulted in a significant reduction in scaling.
A larger scale study done on 197 psoriasis patients found that when applied 4 times each day over the course of 6 weeks it resulted in a significant decrease in redness, itching and scaling. (2)
8. For Weight Loss
I suspect that you are rolling your eyes around about now. Here we go…yet another natural weight reduction aid.
However, studies have actually showed that when cayenne pepper is consumed at breakfast time, it causes a significant reduction in appetite meaning that you are likely to eat less throughout the day. It also helps boost the metabolic rate meaning that you will burn more calories.
9. For Colds and the Flu
Cayenne pepper is chock full of antioxidants like flavonoids and beta carotene. These natural antioxidants as well as the vitamin c content of the peppers can help boost the immune system making it more effective against common illnesses like the flu or cold. It can also help relieve congestion by clearing out excess mucus from the respiratory system.
10. For the Metabolism
One of cayenne pepper’s many health benefits is its ability to control the body’s metabolism. It can effectively regulate appetite by suppressing hunger and it also helps to get blood sugar levels under control. There is also some evidence that it can benefit the heart by reducing both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
11. For Allergies
Cayenne pepper has natural anti-inflammatory properties which experts suggest help to prevent familiar allergic symptoms such as skin irritation and sneezing. Cayenne pepper can also help prevent the allergic response to food allergies like those caused by leaky gut syndrome.
People with leaky gut experience inflammation caused by microbes and particles breaking into the intestines. Cayenne pepper can help relieve the discomfort and inflammation caused.
12. Anti-fungal benefits
Cayenne pepper also contains excellent anti-fungal properties which give it the ability to treat various yeasts and fungi. In vitro studies have demonstrated that cayenne pepper was effective against some 16 fungal strains including one of the most common – candida. (3)
Preliminary studies into the potential role of cayenne pepper as an anti-cancer treatment have been promising. An American study published by the University of California in 2006 found that the capsaicin found in cayenne pepper was able to inhibit cancer cell growth and proliferation. (4)
And that is not all, more data is also available that suggests cayenne pepper could help reduce the risk of lung cancer for smokers. High levels of capsaicin could help prevent the formation of tumors caused by tobacco in the lungs.
Other promising pieces of research demonstrate that capsaicin may be effective against liver and prostate cancers.
How to use Cayenne Pepper
Provided you enjoy spicy food, cayenne peppers are easy to add into your diets. They are readily available in fresh, dried and powdered forms. I personally prefer to buy them fresh and powdered cayenne may be mixed with other herbs.
So long as you store them properly in the refrigerator, your fresh peppers should be good for a week or so.
One very effective way to experience the many benefits of cayenne pepper is to mix it directly into a drink with lemon and water. This can provide you with immediate detox and other health results.
Creams containing capsaicin are also widely available for topical use to treat migraines, muscle pain and infection. These creams are very effective but be sure to wash your hands well after use because of the burning sensation it causes to the hands.