What is Cayenne Pepper ?
The cayenne pepper is a type of Capsicum annuum. It is usually a moderately hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes.Cayenne peppers are a group of tapering, 10 to 25 cm long, generally skinny, mostly red colored peppers, often with a curved tip and somewhat rippled skin, which hang from the bush as opposed to growing upright.
Cayenne pepper has many health benefits which includes it’s ability to help digestion, including heal upset stomach, slow intestinal gas, stop stomach pain, stop diarrhea and as a natural remedy for cramps. It’s also used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels – including to improve poor circulation, reverse excessive blood clotting, lower high cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
History of Cayenne Pepper
Capsicum also known as cayenne pepper has been known to the natives of the tropical Americas for thousands of years. It was first introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus as Guinea Pepper and was originally used by Native Americans that were located south of the Mexican boarder as early as 700 B.C. The mixture of chocolate and red chilies was a taste treat that was reserved exclusively for Aztec royalty. Although the exact origin of the word Capsicum is somewhat a mystery, it is assumed to be derived from the Greek word kapto, which means to bite. Capsicum is a fruit found on a shrub-like tropical plant that is technically considered a berry. The designation of it as a pepper can be traced back to Columbus, who compared its hot taste sensation with that, a black pepper.
Gerard referred to Capsicum as extremely hot and dry in 1597 and prescribed it to those with skin and throat infections. The health practitioners of the 1800s used Capsicum to counteract rheumatism, arthritis, depression, and chills. Capsicum was used in the early 1800s as a potent and safe natural stimulant and was believed to be able to treat a large array of diseases. It was first used orally to treat tumors, toothaches, fevers, and respiratory conditions.
This cayenne red pepper was introduced to England by Dr. John Stevens in 1804 when it became the catalyst component in many herbal blends. Additionally, herbal and medical practitioners used Capsicum in order to fight infection and sustain the natural heat that the body produces. After, it became very well known in American dispensatories and pharmacopeia. In 1943, The Dispensary of the United States recorded Capsicum to be a powerful local stimulant that produces a sense of heat in the stomach and a general glow over the whole body when it is swallowed. It does all of this without having a narcotic effect.
Physicians in the twentieth-century recognized the medicinal value of Capsicum. This caused the herb to find its way to the American Illustrated Medical Dictionary, the Merck Manual and Materia Medica, where it is named a rubefacient, local stimulant, counter-irritant, gastric stimulant, and diaphoretic. Mexican Indians today use Capsicum as an intestinal disinfectant and protectant against contaminated food and, additionally, to treat fevers. In the world today, this cayenne pepper is no more appreciated and more widely used than in Mexico and a few other Latin American countries, which together are the original home of all the peppers. Practically every dish the Indians eat both in the morning and evening include Capsicum, just as it was 2,000 years ago. These peppers are a wonderful source of essential vitamins in a diet that is otherwise lacking of them.
Capsicum is a source of health and vitality in many countries which include the Bahamas and Costa Rica, in which it is used to treat colic and indigestion, in Africa for vascular disorders, and in North America as a tonic and natural stimulant. Currently undergoing a large variety of studies, Capsicum has emerged with an impressive list of actions. Scientists are currently taking notice and looking at Capsicum with a new respect and interest. Capsicum can be set apart from powerful pharmaceutical stimulants and pain killers because it possesses the potency without the delirious side effects.
Nutritional Value of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne is a shrub that originated in Central and South America and now grows in subtropical and tropical climates. Its hollow fruit grows into long pods that turn red, orange or yellow when they ripen. Cayenne chili peppers (or Capsicum frutescens) belong to the genus Capsicum and come from a similar cultivar of Capsicum annuum. Capsicum is an herb, and the fruit of the capsicum plant is used to make medicine.
The pepper also contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and flavonoids – which provides its powerful antioxidant properties. On the Scoville Rating Scale, cayenne pepper is rated typically anywhere from 30,000 to 190,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). (Pure capsaicin has the highest SHU rating.)
|For a Serving Size of 1 tbsp (5.3g)|
|Calories 16.9||Calories from Fat 8.2(48.9%)|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 0.9g||–|
|Saturated fat 0.2g||–|
|Monounsaturated fat 0.1g||–|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0.4g||–|
|Net carbs 1.6g||–|
|Vitamins and minerals|
|Vitamin A 110.3μg||13%|
|Vitamin A IU2205.3IU||–|
|Vitamin B6 0.1mg||10%|
|Vitamin B12 0μg||0%|
|Vitamin C 4mg||7%|
|Vitamin D 0μg||0%|
|Vitamin D IU 0IU||–|
|Vitamin E 1.6mg||8%|
|Vitamin K 4.3μg||4%|
Amount Per 100 grams
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- Calories 318
- Total Fat 17 g – 26% RDA
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 30 mg – 1% RDA
- Potassium 2,014 mg – 57% RDA
- Total Carbohydrate 57 g – 19% RDA
- Dietary fiber 27 g – 108% RDA
- Sugar 10 g
- Protein 12 g – 24% RDA
- Vitamin A 832% RDA
- Vitamin C 127% RDA
- Calcium 14% RDA
- Iron 43% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 125% RDA
- Magnesium 38% RDA
Good source of vitamin A
Cayenne pepper is a good source of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to maintain healthy vision, improve brain function, boost immunity, promote fast cell growth, and maintain healthy skin. It’s an antioxidant that works to reduce inflammation by fighting free radicals. Having just two teaspoons of cayenne pepper every day will get you your recommended amount of vitamin A.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
1. Boosts Metabolism
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers has metabolism-boosting properties.It helps increase the amount of heat your body produces, making you burn more calories per day. It does this through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis, which causes an increase in your metabolism.
2. Aids in Weight Management
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers helps reduce hunger by reducing the production of hunger hormone. This helps one eat less and feel full for longer. It also burns excess fat because it’s a metabolic booster.
3. Aids in Digestion
Cayenne pepper helps produce saliva, which is important for excellent digestion as well as preventing bad breath. Consuming cayenne pepper stimulates our salivary glands, which is needed to begin the digestive process. Cayenne pepper also stimulates the flow of enzyme production, which is essential for our digestive system to work properly. It also stimulates gastric juices that aid the body’s ability to metabolize food and toxins.
4. Prevents Blood Clot
Cayenne encourages fibrinolytic activity and helps prevent blood clots. This is also the reason why cayenne pepper is effective in preventing heart attacks. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps to clear away artery-narrowing lipid deposits, and dilates arteries and blood vessels to clear away clots.
5. Treats Psoriasis
Psoriasis occurs when skin cells replicate too quickly, and it results in swollen patches under the skin covered with whitish scales on top. The scaly patches are areas of inflammation and excessive skin production.
Two trials showed that 0.025 percent capsaicin (cayenne pepper) cream used topically is effective in treating psoriasis. The first study showed a significant decrease in scaling and redness during a six-week period in 44 patients with moderate and severe psoriasis. The second was a double-blind study of 197 patients; psoriasis was treated with the capsaicin cream four times daily for six weeks, with a significant decrease in scaling, thickness, redness and itching.
6. Improves Vision
Cayenne pepper contains vitamin A and they contain carotenoid anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoid anti-oxidants slow down premature macular degeneration, help keep the optic nerve healthy and can reflect some amount of UV rays from damaging the eyes.
7. Relieves Pain
Cayenne power has very powerful pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin. It reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. When there is less substance P, the pain messages no longer reach the brain and you feel relief.
Studies have found that cayenne pepper relieves pain after surgery, such as a mastectomy or an amputation. It also alleviates pain from nerve damage in the feet or legs from diabetes, lower back injuries, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as fibromyalgia symptoms like joint or muscle pain.
8. Helps Detoxify the Body.
Detoxifying is like recharging your batteries for a new and invigorated you. And you can very well take the help of cayenne in this process. One of the more popular detox diets consists of cayenne pepper and lemon. This diet was developed way back in 1940 by Stanley Burroughs, an alternative health practitioner. This diet works by lowering the calorie intake.
The detox diet lasts for 10 days, where you need to drink 12 glasses of a tonic that consists of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. And by the way, no solid foods. You should be getting around 650 to 1,300 calories a day. Here, the weight loss happens very quickly, and you might lose close to 3 pounds a week. Most of that weight is water weight, though.
However, we don’t really recommend you follow this detox diet. Because we humans need a variety of nutrients to stay healthy, and this detox diet doesn’t offer you much. Though certain anecdotal reports suggest that this diet leaves one feeling healthier and energetic, there is no concrete research. In fact, your body’s natural detoxification system is enough to keep you healthy. This detox tonic can probably be a healthy alternative to sugary beverages, once in a while. Or best, simply add cayenne pepper to your foods to aid detoxification.
9. Regulates Blood Pressure
Capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps lower blood pressure. The pepper opens up blood vessels, and this increases blood flow. As the rate of blood flowing through the system increases, the blood pressure naturally comes down. Capsaicin also affects the sensory nerves that work with neuro-hormonal systems, and this lowers blood pressure.
10. Fights Cold and Flu
Cold and Flu are usually caused by congested mucus inside the ‘line’ of head, nose even throat (respiratory passage). Consuming cayenne pepper or spicy foods in the cold and flu period would ‘burn’ your mouth while stimulating mucus to come out from your body and opening your airways. When this sort of blocking block could be expelled from the body, other flu and cold symptoms could be diminished as well.Cayenne pepper also raises your body temperature, which makes you sweat and increases the activity of your immune system.
11. Can Prevent Cancer
In several studies, capsaicin has demonstrated the ability to induce apoptosis (death of cancer cells). In fact, it also arrests the ability of cancer cells to travel across the body. One study talks about how capsaicin can help manage prostate cancer. And another American study talks about the anti-tumor activity of capsaicin. The compound can be beneficial in treating cancers of the lung, breast, colon, and prostate.
12. Protects The Heart
Given that cayenne improves the health of blood vessels and lowers blood pressure, it sure does good to the heart. Cayenne pepper also prevents blood clots, making it effective in preventing heart attacks. The capsaicin clears the lipid deposits that narrow the arteries.
Studies show that cayenne is also effective in treating blood circulation problems, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), and palpitations. As unbelievable as it might sound, one report suggests that cayenne pepper can stop a heart attack in just 30 seconds. In fact, the famed natural herbalist Dr. John Christopher is known to bring his patients out of heart attacks just by making them drink warm cayenne water.
Cayenne pepper is also beneficial in preventing heart disease associated with diabetes. And more interestingly, cayenne can help reduce plaques (and might lower cholesterol). It breaks down the fibrin networks that hold the plaque in place, thereby reducing the build-up.
13. Clears Congestion
If you are suffering from a sinus congestion, cayenne pepper can help you out. The capsaicin in the pepper can thin the mucus and stimulate the sinuses. This ultimately aids air circulation, offering you relief. Taking foods containing cayenne pepper can help clear your congestion.
Capsaicin might also have a beneficial effect on rhinitis, a disease with symptoms like postnasal drip and nasal congestion. Though we still require more studies, the future looks promising in this regard. One of the best ways to use capsaicin is to get the related nasal spray from your nearest pharmacy. You might also take cayenne orally. You can add one teaspoon of the pepper to a cup of hot water and take it thrice a day. This dilates the blood vessels in your nose, stimulates secretions, and drains the sinuses.
Cayenne pepper can also help clear congestion caused by bronchitis. It helps treat sinus infections, sore throats, and laryngitis as well (you can use it as a gargle). It might even help treat cold and flu and other related allergies.
14. Relieves Joint Pains
We already saw the pain-relieving effects of capsaicin. Studies have revealed that applying creams containing capsaicin on painful joints improved their condition. As per the Arthritis Foundation, capsaicin (which also is one of the capsaicinoids present in cayenne pepper) has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve arthritis and joint pains. Topical capsaicin can also be effective for osteoarthritis pain and fibromyalgia.
15. Has Antimicrobial Properties
Cayenne pepper can prevent infection in the case of an injury, thanks to its antibacterial properties. It also possesses antifungal properties.
16. Improves Immunity
Though there are not many studies on this, the antioxidants in cayenne pepper can enhance one’s immunity. Eating the pepper also increases your body heat, and this is said to strengthen your immune system as well.
17. Can Heal Toothaches
Using cayenne pepper for toothache is an old-fashioned remedy, but one that works. The pepper acts as a counter-irritant and decreases the deeper tooth pain. It also increases local blood flow.
18. Improves Skin And Hair Health
Though we have less research on this, some reports promote the benefits of cayenne pepper for one’s skin and hair. The capsaicin in the pepper can soothe skin redness (its anti-inflammatory properties) and also treats acne-induced skin discoloration. But don’t use the pepper alone. Mix one spoon of the pepper with some cocoa powder and half a ripe avocado till you get a paste. Apply it to your face and rinse after 15 minutes.
The vitamin in cayenne pepper can improve hair health too. Mix some of the pepper with honey and apply to your scalp. Cover your hair with a cellophane cover. Wash after 30 minutes. You can also add three eggs and olive oil to this mixture and follow the same procedure for stronger hair. This remedy can also add volume and shine to your hair.
19. Anti-Fungal Properties
In vitro tests have found that CAY-1, a compound found in cayenne peppers, effectively suppressed the development of 16 different fungal strains, while remaining completely non-toxic to animal cells.
20. Migraine Headache Prevention
This may be related to the pepper’s ability to stimulate a pain response in a different area of the body, thus diverting the brain’s attention to the new site. Following this initial pain reaction, the nerve fibers have a depleted substance P (the nerve’s pain chemical), and the perception of pain is lessened
21. Helps Produce Saliva
Cayenne stimulates the production of saliva, an important component of digestion and maintaining optimal oral health.
22. Stimulates liver
The mix of vitamins and minerals in lemon and cayenne pepper helps to stimulate the liver. The combination provides the liver with the right balance of nutrients to detox from harmful substances, such as sugar and alcohol.
23. Fights cravings
Lemon has appetite-suppressing properties, which may also reduce sugar cravings during the day. Cayenne boosts the metabolism, which burns fat while suppressing the appetite. The combination is the ultimate painless weight-loss aid. It encourages your body to stay at a healthy weight and discourages overeating.
24. Fights viruses
Together, lemon and cayenne have properties that help soothe minor viral infections, specifically sore throats. Lemon boosts the immune system. Cayenne contains compounds that soothe sore throats and reduce congestion. This beverage is ideal for use during cold and flu season.
25. Heals gingivitis
Lemon contains high levels of vitamin C, which can be effective in fighting gingivitis. Most adults suffer from a lack of vitamin C in the diet, which can cause the spread of bacteria in the mouth. Researchers have found that the capsaicin in cayenne pepper is linked to a reduction in toothaches and tooth pain.
How To Select And Store Cayenne Pepper
You need to select totally ripe cayenne peppers with a bright and even color. The ripe peppers are usually green or red. You can store them in an airtight glass container, kept out of reach of direct sunlight.
How To Incorporate More Cayenne Pepper Into Your Diet
The pepper is quite versatile, so you can add it to a variety of dishes.
- You can add cayenne pepper to spice mixtures such as a curry tub.
- You can also spice up your marinades by adding cayenne pepper.
- A homemade dressing can also be made using the pepper. You can mix vinegar, oil, the pepper, and other seasonings as you desire.
Cayenne Pepper Recipes
1. Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 cup of raw green pumpkin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of chili powder
- ½ teaspoon of coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice
- Preheat oven to 350o F.
- In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Toss to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking seat.
- Bake until it is puffed or browned.
2. Cayenne Pepper Tea
- Lemon, honey, and cayenne pepper, as required
- Add all the ingredients except water to a mug.
- Top with boiling water and steep for 5 minutes.
- Stir well and enjoy.
Use of Cayenne Pepper
- You can place the jar of cayenne pepper on your dining table so that it can be sprinkled onto anything instantly when needed.
- Cayenne pepper, when added with some lemon juice, can render the most delectable and lip-smacking flavor to any bitter or bland dish.
- It also works wonders when added to traditional hot cocoa.
- One can also prepare some cayenne pepper sauce to apply to bread slices and add to soups.
- Alright. But do you know where to procure cayenne pepper from?
Where To Buy Cayenne Pepper?
From your nearest supermarket store. Or even online. You might also want to go for cayenne pepper pills. But just check with your doctor once.
Facts About Cayenne Pepper
- Cayenne pepper has been a part of the Native American cuisine for at least 9,000 years.
- It is available all year round.
- The cayenne pepper plant grows to about 2 to 4 feet tall.
- Immature cayenne pepper is green and is also called hot pepper.
- Botanically speaking, the pepper is a berry.
- It is also known as guinea spice, aleva or bird pepper, red pepper, and cow horn pepper.
- Most of the pepper you see in the market is ground cayenne.
Negative Effects Of Cayenne Pepper
Capsicum annuum, more commonly known as cayenne pepper, is a food used to spice up many styles of cooking. People also have been consuming cayenne pepper as an herbal remedy for thousands of years, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). The substance capsaicin gives cayenne its bite, and capsaicin also has pain-relieving qualities. Cayenne has traditional uses for treating digestive and circulatory problems and as a topical remedy for arthritis and muscle pain. An easy way to supplement with this substance is to take cayenne pepper capsules. Some side effects are possible.
Cayenne pepper can cause irritation in certain people. This can include skin irritation, irritation of the eyes, stomach, throat, and nose. Also, never apply the pepper to broken or injured skin.
Effects In Children
Children under the age of 2 years must stay away from cayenne pepper.
Capsaicin might increase bleeding during and after surgery. Hence, avoid using it at least two weeks before your scheduled surgery.
Gastrointestinal Side Effects
Although people use cayenne pepper to treat gastrointestinal problems, the substance can cause stomach irritation in some individuals, according to PDRhealth.com. Anyone prone to heartburn should talk to a health care provider before taking cayenne pepper capsules. Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome or stomach or intestinal ulcers may not be able to safely consume cayenne pepper supplements.
The body may react to effects of capsaicin stimulation by producing extra moisture, as noted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). A person taking cayenne pepper capsules may experience sweating, flushing, watery eyes and a runny nose.
Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to cayenne pepper. This is more likely in people allergic to avocados, bananas, chestnuts, kiwi or latex, according to PDRhealth.com. Signs include difficulty breathing, chest pain, tightness in the throat or chest, a skin rash, hives, and itchy or swollen skin. An allergic reaction to cayenne pepper capsules should be considered a medical emergency.
Kidney and Liver Issues
Consuming too much capsaicin can cause kidney and liver damage, according to the UMMC. People should not exceed recommended doses, and anyone with kidney or liver problems should not take cayenne pepper capsules.
Breast-feeding women should not eat cayenne pepper or use cayenne supplements. The MSKCC notes that some babies have developed a skin condition called erythematous dermatitis after their breast-feeding mothers ate food flavored with cayenne. Erythematous dermatitis causes skin scaling and peeling.