Many societies, especially those of the Americas and China, have a history of using cayenne pepper therapeutically.
A powerful compound with many uses, cayenne pepper is currently gaining buzz for cleansing and detoxifying regimes such as the Master Cleanse.
which uses the spice to stimulate circulation and neutralize acidity.
Cayenne pepper has been used for a variety of ailments including heartburn, delirium, tremors, gout, paralysis, fever, dyspepsia, flatulence, sore throat, atonic dyspepsia, hemorrhoids, menorrhagia in women, nausea, tonsillitis, scarlet fever and diphtheria.
History of Cayenne Pepper
The cayenne pepper, also known as the Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, red hot chili pepper, aleva, bird pepper, or, especially in its powdered form, red pepper, is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, paprika, and others.
The Capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). It is a hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes.
It is named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana.
The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice of the same name.
Cayenne is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Korean, Sichuan, and other Asian cuisine), or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce.
It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units.
It is also used as an herbal supplement, and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his Complete Herbal, 1653, as “guinea pepper”, a misnomer for “guiana pepper”.
How Cayenne is Grown / Prepared
Cayenne peppers need approximately 100 days to mature, and the plants grow best in warm climates with moist, nutrient rich soil.
The peppers themselves are typically either dried and crushed, or used fresh.
A little goes a long way with cayenne, and the heat can be reduced by removing the seeds. (Just make sure you’re wearing gloves and don’t touch your mouth or eyes afterwards!)
Straight up, cayenne is spicy. The peppers are spicier than most mild jalapeños, and the ground-up spice should be used with sparingly.
As with most things, start with a small amount, and then work your taste buds up to a comfortable level of heat.
The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
1. Anti-Irritant Properties
Cayenne has the ability to ease upset stomach, ulcers, sore throats, spasmodic and irritating coughs, and diarrhea.
2. Anti-Cold and Flu Agent
Cayenne pepper aids in breaking up and moving congested mucus. Once mucus begins to leave the body, relief from flu symptoms generally follows.
3. Anti-Fungal Properties
The results of one study indicated that cayenne pepper could effectively prevent the formation of the fungal pathogens phomopsis and collectotrichum.
4. 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 reverting 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.
Cayenne is an anti- agent and may even help relieve allergies.
6. Digestive Aid
Cayenne is a well-known digestive aid. It stimulates the digestive tract, increasing the flow of enzyme production and gastric juices.
This aids the body’s ability to metabolize food (and toxins). Cayenne pepper is also helpful for relieving intestinal gas.
It stimulates intestinal peristaltic motion, aiding in both assimilation and elimination.
7. Anti-Redness Properties
Cayenne’s properties makes it a great herb for many chronic and degenerative conditions.
8. Helps Produce Saliva
Cayenne stimulates the production of saliva, an important key to excellent digestion and maintaining optimal oral health.
9. Useful for Blood Clots
Cayenne pepper also helps reduce atherosclerosis, encourages fibrinolytic activity and prevents factors that lead to the formation of blood clots, all of which can help reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke.
10. Detox Support
Cayenne is a known circulatory stimulant. It also increases the pulse of our lymphatic and digestive rhythms.
By heating the body, the natural process of detoxification is streamlined. Cayenne also causes us to sweat, another important process of detoxification.
Combined with lemon juice and honey, cayenne tea is an excellent morning beverage for total body detox.
11. Joint-Pain Reliever
Extremely high in a substance called capsaicin, cayenne pepper acts to cause temporary pain on the skin, which sends chemical messengers from the skin into the joint, offering relief for joint pain.
12. Anti-Bacterial Properties
Cayenne is an excellent preservative and has been used traditionally to prevent food contamination from bacteria.
13. Supports Weight Loss
Scientists at the Laval University in Quebec found that participants who took cayenne pepper for breakfast were found to have less appetite, leading to less caloric intake throughout the day.
Cayenne is also a great metabolic-booster, aiding the body in burning excess amounts of fats.
14. Promotes Heart-Health
Cayenne helps to keep blood pressure levels normalized. It also balances the body of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
15. Remedy for Toothache
Cayenne is an excellent agent against tooth and gum diseases.
Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
- one large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- one tablespoon plus 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón dulce)*
- 1/2 teaspoon to 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- About 1 tsp. salt
- A can (14.5 oz.) crushed fire-roasted tomatoes or regular crushed tomatoes
- A can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
- 1 cup flavorful, medium-bodied beer, such as Anchor Steam
- One teaspoon Worcestershire
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) pinto beans, drained
- Sour cream, sliced green onions, and/or coarsely shredded cheddar cheese for topping
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon, stirring until it just begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion, lower heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4 to 7 minutes. Uncover pan, stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute.
2. Increase heat to medium-high and add ground beef; break it up with a wooden spoon and stir gently until it loses its raw color, 7 minutes. Stir in spices and 1 tsp. salt and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, and Worcestershire and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook 30 minutes.
3. Add beans and cook 10 minutes, uncovered. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm, with toppings on the side.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.