Cayenne pepper is a favorite ingredient in many hearty dishes, from chili in the American southwest to curry in India. It is a small red pepper initially used as a decorative statement by nomadic Central and South American people. Early explorers came across the pepper during their travels in the French Guiana region of South America, where it had been used for centuries, and introduced it to the rest of the world. The feisty pepper is used not just as food but has many medicinal applications as well.
Cayenne works by stimulating a pain response in a different part of the body so that the brain’s attention is diverted from its concentration in the head. Once the nerve fibers have moved away from the source of the migraine, they cannot generate enough of the chemical P (associated with pain) to re-establish it.
Sinus Congestion and Allergies
Eating a dish with cayenne pepper helps to clear your sinuses. It is particularly useful in breaking apart mucus and getting it on the move. That’s why you can breath better halfway through that bowl of chili. Furthermore, cayenne is also high in beta-carotene (vitamin A) and helps the mucus membranes develop properly to protect against exterior pathogens.
Digestive Super Hero
Contrary to the lore of spicy food as a digestive miscreant, cayenne actually works to help digestion by increasing the number of gastric juices available in the stomach to digest food. It also stimulates the production of beneficial enzymes. Further along the digestive system, cayenne keeps the intestines moving, reducing or minimizing intestinal gas and aiding the body in elimination.
For those with sluggish circulation or clotting problems, cayenne makes the perfect daily supplement. It controls blood flow throughout the body by encouraging fibrinolytic activity and ultimately helps to remove arterial blockages. As circulation improves, a person’s risk of developing clotting disorders like DVT significantly decreases and so does their risk of atherosclerosis. Most people notice a drop in their blood pressure as well after regular consumption of cayenne pepper.
A Better way to Detox
Every so often the body needs to be flushed of toxins. Sweating is one proven method of filtering toxic substances out of the body. Cayenne forces the body’s temperature to rise, inducing users to sweat and stimulating the circulatory system to help the body eliminate negative substances. Many people drink cayenne tea in the mornings for a daily detox; tea is often made from cayenne powder, honey, and lemon.
Pain Relief Professional
Cayenne pepper contains the natural pain reliever capsaicin. Most people recognize it as an ingredient in many arthritis medications. Just as other joint pain relief creams, users can apply cayenne pepper topically. The initial burning effect subsides soon after application and ultimately brings relief. It can also be made into a poultice for sores or other wounds and makes a great topical remedy for toothaches.
Weathering Weight Loss
Consuming cayenne pepper on a regular basis helps to boost the metabolism naturally. The body burns excess fat and calories more quickly, resulting in weight loss and an overall increase in energy. It has also been shown to act as an appetite suppressant, making it easier for dieters to make it through the day without the need or desire to snack.
Not only does cayenne pepper help increase circulation and reduce the chance of blood clots, but it also benefits heart health in general. It has been shown in animal studies to help improve blood flow throughout the heart and reduce heart arrhythmias. This can reduce the formation of plaque in the arteries of the heart. It is reported that in the event of a heart attack, diluting cayenne pepper in a cup of water can stop the attack in its tracks.
Cancer and Beyond
Scientists continue to research the many benefits of Cayenne pepper. Cayenne can treat everything from gout, nausea, sore throat and menstrual pain to tremors, paralysis, and delirium. It is believed that it can even attack and kill cancer cells, making it a vital tool in the fight against leukemia and other types of cancer.
Cautions and Contra-indications
Although Cayenne is a natural ingredient, it can still cause an allergic reaction in some people. To be safe, start using small amounts and gradually increase it as tolerated. If you take blood-thinners or ACE inhibitors, check with your physician before using it medicinally. Because it is classed as a stimulant, be aware of combining it with other stimulants. Finally, some people may have a skin reaction to Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper. If you notice itching or severe burning and redness at the spot of application, stop using it topically.