Cayenne – More Than Just Flavor
Who doesn’t enjoy a good hot sauce? At my family gatherings I used to shake my head when my relatives would try to see who could withstand the most heat without grabbing a glass of milk. But their fun and games were actually health-giving as there are so many benefits to the capiscum found in peppers besides just the flavor.
- Capiscum blocks production of substance “P” in the body which is linked to the pain response. As a consequence, it reduces joint and muscular pain. It can also cause cancer cell death (2).
- Cayenne can be helpful in removing mucus from the lungs (1).
- That delightful heat has long been used with ginger to battle the flu (5).
My mentor, Doc Jones, once told me that if he had to pick just one herb for his home apothecary it would be cayenne because it was useful for so many things. He actually used it to stop bleeding and normalize blood pressure.
Cayenne is a powerful ally for the heart and cardiovascular system. It can regulate cholesterol levels and reduce platelet aggregation, thus lessening a chance of forming a blood clot. Cayenne peppers have been shown to enhance immunity; they can help prevent a cold or flu as well as shorten the duration of a cold or flu (3). Who doesn’t want this in today’s world?!
Cayenne and other spicy peppers were once blamed for causing ulcers, but now are accepted as a natural treatment for ulcers. Funny enough, cayenne supports the health of the lining of the stomach. Just adding hot sauce to your meal for a little flavor has been shown to protect against the corrosive effects of aspirin in the stomach (2).
Cayenne peppers consumed in even small amounts have even been shown to lower blood sugar. Cayenne has also been studied extensively for its ability to facilitate weight loss. Scientists hypothesize that cayenne prolongs satiety, resulting in fewer calories consumed, and increases a person’s internal heat, thus helping them burn more calories (4).
After learning these facts, we can understand why there is something about peppers that many of us are just drawn to. Perhaps this is the basis as to why they have contests to see who can handle the most pain or create the hottest salsa. Seems like craziness, but when you think about the health benefits it becomes a little less crazy. The best part about it is you don’t have to consume death peppers to reap the benefits, just plain old hot sauce will do.
- Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. North Atlantic Books. 2002
- Page, Linda, Abernathy, Sarah. Healthy Healing 14th Ed. Healthy Healing Enterprises. 2011.
- De la Foret, Rosalee. Herbmentor.com. Cayenne monograph. 2017.
- Ahuja K, Robertson K, Geraghty D, Ball M. Effects of chili consumption on postprandial glucose, insulin, and energy metabolism Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(1):63-69.
- Buhner, Stephen Harrod, Herbal Antivirals, Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. Storey Publishing. 2013.