Cayenne pepper registers quite low on the Scoville Heat Scale, coming in at only 30,000 to 50,000 units. For many chili pepper fanatics, cayenne peppers are merely a blip on the way to serious heat producers like ghost peppers and habaneros. However, although some may overlook the lowly Cayenne pepper, it delivers much more than just a mildly spicy punch.
Cayenne’s have been an important nutritional staple in many diets around the world, particularly within North and South America. There is evidence of its use going back roughly 9,000 years. Perhaps most notably, cayenne was used throughout Mexico where archaeologists have discovered ancient cayenne seeds on inhabited cave floors. It began being cultivated as early as 5,000 B.C, making it one of the oldest farmed foods in the world.
According to records, European explorers discovered that cayenne peppers played a vital role in diet and medicine throughout the New World. In Peru, it was considered the most highly valued plant in the empire and in Mexico it was as equally revered as maize. Indigenous cultures have long cherished the chili as a spiritual medicine, and eventually, even the European monks considered the chili a valuable medicine.
Today, cayenne pepper (and related chilies) are cultivated around the world, each variety carrying its own valuable health benefits and deep-rooted cultural importance. Cayenne, in particular, is still prescribed as a herbal remedy, and modern scientific methods are finding new and interesting applications for it as a herbal supplement.
Most Powerful Cayenne Pepper Benefits
Although it’s naturally a great way to spice up any meal, cayenne peppers are also popularly used to treat various ailments. These days cayenne comes in a variety of formats, making its health benefits palatable for even the most sensitive among us. Look for it in the produce aisles, or in health food stores, either fresh, dried, extracted or powdered and capsulized.
It’s easier than ever to incorporate these small but powerful spice bombs into your daily diet, and due to the variety of cayenne pepper benefits, it’s a great idea to also stock up for treatment of a series of ailments, some of which we cover below.
Cayenne pepper aids in healthy digestion by creating hydrochloric acid in the stomach and helps in the peristaltic movement of the intestine. According to studies at NYU Langone Medical Center, it has been found that cayenne pepper can relieve dyspepsia and indigestion by alleviating symptoms of bloating and nausea. Because cayenne pepper is packed with flavor, it helps to produce saliva to smooths out the entire digestive process from start to finish.
Cayenne Pepper works miracles on the circulatory system. It is known to arrest heart attacks within 30 seconds. It naturally stimulates blood flow without ill effects like heart palpitations. In a February 2010 issue of Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, it was revealed that cayenne pepper energizes the circulatory system while lowering blood pressure. It has been traditionally used to increase stamina and induce feelings of vigor.
Natural Pain Killer
Maybe not the first benefit you think about when you consider a mildly spicy pepper, but recent research has shown that the pepper can be an effective painkiller. It specifically targets pain following cancer surgeries, peripheral neuropathy, or nerve pain stemming from diabetes. Cayenne pepper works much like common pain relieving muscle ointments and in fact, they often contain a substance called capsaicin. This substance is originally derived from chili peppers and the heat is transmitted through the muscle and the joints, to offer pain relief.
Skin & Throat Problems
Peppers have been found helpful for use as a treatment for skin conditions like psoriasis and other itchy irritations. Although particularly pungent, cayenne works wonders against a cough, sore throat, cold and flu. Cayenne pepper has the properties which clear the nasal cavity from thick mucus by breaking it down and flushing it out.
Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-bacterial
A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the pepper has anti-fungal properties. Cayenne pepper acts as a strong anti-inflammatory agent and seems to prevent certain allergies. Cayenne pepper also has a long history as a food preservative due to its natural anti-bacterial properties.
Well known for being one of the main ingredients to the Master Cleanse, in combination with honey and lemon juice, cayenne pepper is extremely effective in ridding the system of toxins and other harmful substances. Moreover, consumption of cayenne pepper also induces sweating which is another way to purge the body of toxic substances.
Despite the numerous benefits, a word of caution is in order, because cayenne pepper should not be consumed by everyone. This includes mothers who are still breastfeeding, as in high dosages, cayenne pepper can cause cracked nipples, and any remnants can also transfer through skin to skin contact while breastfeeding to small children, which could lead to pain and inflammation if rubbed on the face. Also, although obvious, cayenne pepper is too strong for young children. Finally, because Cayenne pepper helps prevents blood clots, patients newly recovering from surgery should avoid the pepper because it can cause excessive bleeding.