Native to South and Central America and the West Indies, cayenne pepper has been used since the ancient times not only as a spicy seasoning to food but as a medicinal spice. Several of the uses included treating indigestion and heartburn, relieving pain, stopping cuts and wounds from bleeding and strengthening the heart. Even though this spice may be too hot for you taste buds, you may change your mind after learning about the health benefits.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin. This is the compound that gives this spice its heat. While you might feel that your mouth is on fire after you bite into a dish flavored with this spice, the same heating compound increases the amount of endorphins in your body. When you have more of these, your body is more effective in fighting pain such as arthritic pain.
Cayenne pepper makes an excellent spice for diabetics. It plays a role in both regulating blood glucose levels and lowering blood sugar.
Cayenne pepper is good for your heart since it is a natural blood thinner. When you have high levels of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, your arteries get clogged up with fatty buildup. Because your heart has to work faster to move the blood through the arteries you can get high blood pressure. This in turn can lead to a heart attack or stroke. This spice can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol and dissolve the calcium deposits that are responsible for hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. Using this spice also reduces the risk of getting blood clots. Therefore it also can reduce the chances of getting a heart attack or stroke. For an excellent cholesterol lowering drink fill an eight ounce glass with water. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and up to a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. (You may want to start with a lower amount until you get used to the taste of this spice.) Drinking this daily or on a regular basis will help keep the numbers down especially if you fall to the temptation of greasy fast food. This spice is also loaded with Vitamin B, potassium and calcium which are all needed for a healthy heart.
Cayenne pepper is an excellent spice to remove toxins from your body because it induces sweating. When you sweat, the dermcidin helps protect your skin from bacteria that can infect you. This is a spice to keep on hand the next time you have a fever. When you have a fever, the best thing for you to do is sweat it out. This helps lower your body temperature.
Cayenne pepper is a major source of Vitamin A. Ever since childhood we always needed this vitamin for healthy hair and strong bones and teeth. One of the reasons some children who have a delay in growth and development is because they do not get enough of this vitamin during their growing years. We also need vitamin A for healthy skin and good eyesight and to prevent eye conditions such as cataracts. Since this oil is high in both Vitamins A and E, your body is protected against free radical because these vitamins are powerful antioxidants.
Cayenne pepper is an excellent spice to keep around the house during cold and flu season. One tablespoon full gives you 6% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. This is vitamin helps your immune system fight off cold and flu symptoms. Chicken noodle soup is one of the best comfort foods when you are sick. Instead of using black pepper, which contains many health benefits, spice the soup up with cayenne pepper. Since lemons contain many flu fighting properties as well, add a tablespoon of lemon juice to an eight ounce cup of water along with a half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Drinking this helps reduce the amount of mucous. This spice is also excellent if you suffer from sinus infections. It plays a role in opening up the plugged cavities and makes them easier to drain.
Cayenne pepper is a very soothing spice for the digestive system. Helping your stomach increase hydrochloric acid secretion, this is necessary for good digestion. When our bodies do not have enough hydrochloric acid, “food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion” (WHFoods). This spice helps increase mucous production in the rectum, which helps prevent constipation. This spice also contains carminative properties which help prevent the buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract and reduces the likelihood of embarrassing flatulence. However, if you have stomach ulcers, it is best to avoid this spice because they can further irritate them.
We need Vitamin K in our diets if we want to have strong and healthy bones. While lack of calcium in our daily diets is one of the main causes of osteoporosis-where our bones become weak and brittle as we age, a lack of Vitamin K can cause this condition as well. An excellent way to prevent this from happening is to include a small amount of cayenne pepper in your daily diets. Not only do you need this vitamin for your bones, you need it for your blood as well. It helps your blood to clot properly so that cuts and scrapes do not continue to bleed. All you need to do is just to use enough to cover the wound. This spice also contains astringent, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. Because it has antibacterial properties, it can be used to treat cold sores, bee stings, mosquito bites, cuts and scrapes as well as skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.. Because of its antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties, you can prevent cuts from getting infected.
As already mentioned, cayenne pepper prevents the blood platelets from sticking together. This not only reduces the risk of getting blood clots, it also allows the blood to flow more smoothly. This in turn, allows more oxygen to be transported through the blood stream. It has even been found through research that blood circulation improves almost immediately after taking this spice.
Individuals who suffer from poor circulation may have cold hands and feet. This is known as Raynaud’s Disease. Since using cayenne pepper improves blood circulation, it will make the symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease go away. It also helps people who suffer from swollen ankles and feet due to poor circulation. To treat poor circulation, take a teaspoon of this spice before you go to bed. This spice helps dilute the blood vessels, therefore increasing circulation. You will have warm hands and feet in no time at all. You can also use this externally to warm up your hands and feet since it is considered to be a rubefacient which “produces redness of the skin e.g. by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation” (Wikipedia).
While you can purchase cayenne peppers as a spice, you can also purchase them as:
Check out your local pharmacy and health food store to see what is available. You can even find these products online as sites such as EBay or Amazon.
While cayenne pepper is an excellent alternative to medicine, cautions must be used. It is important to watch your hands with soap and water after you handle it. If you have any on your hands it can cause irritation to your eyes and mucous membranes. If you happen to get any in your eyes, flush them out with cold water. Keep this spice away from children so they do not handle them.
Always talk to your doctor if you are going to use cayenne pepper to treat any health ailments or conditions. There are some herbs and spices which can interact with medications and supplements that you are already taking.