Cayenne, commonly known as red chili peppers can do a lot more than make your meals hot and spicy. Cayenne pepper has many health benefits and it is a member of the Capsicum family of vegetables and has been used in natural medicine since ancient times. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, E, C, K and B6, dietary fiber and manganese. Cayenne gets its red color from its high content of beta- carotene, the natural color pigment which serves as your body’s first line defense against invading bacteria and viruses.
Cayenne owes its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities to Capsaicin, the chemical compound that is also responsible for its hot and spicy flavor. Today, capsaicin is used in skin ointments and dietary supplements used for treating skin conditions, headaches, joint pains and to improve digestive and cardiovascular health.
A NATURAL PAIN RELIEVER
Capsaicin makes cayenne a natural pain reliever with superior antioxidant qualities. It is considered a safe and effective treatment for headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle sprains, strains and osteoarthritis pain.
Capsaicin is used in many pain relieving creams as it helps to reduce the intensity of pain by activating the body’s pain relieving action. Several studies have suggested that three to five skin applications of capsaicin ointments per day for 2 to 6 weeks may help reduce several kinds of pain including chronic muscular pains, diabetic neuropathic pain, post-herpes pain, arthritic pain and post surgical pain.
Capsaicin is known to help prevent the hardening of arteries by dilating the blood vessels. This in turn increases blood flow, lowers blood pressure and enhances blood circulation, reducing the chances of blood clotting.
Studies have shown that Cayenne and other red chili peppers can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides (body fat) in the blood, earning them the distinction of heart healthy herbs. Fibrin is a protein required by the body to clot blood and stop bleeding during an injury. Researchers have found that cayenne can help reduce the formation of blood clots by enhancing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin. Cayenne thins the blood, strengthens the pulse and feeds the heart.
Cayenne finds an important place in Ayurvedic, Chinese and other eastern medicine practices for the treatment of digestive problems. It aids digestion by stimulating gastric juices which in turn helps to increase appetite and relive gas and heartburn.
Herbalists recommend the use of cayenne pepper to heal stomach ulcers as it attacks bacteria and helps in regeneration of damaged tissue. Owing to its antibacterial and antifungal benefits, cayenne is often recommended for treating microbial infections in the digestive tract.
WEIGHT LOSS SUPPORT
Cayenne has shown great results in enhancing metabolism which is really the body’s ability to burn calories and produce energy. As suggested by a study, cayenne can raise a person’s metabolic rate by as much as 25%.
Studies have shown that daily intake of capsinoids, another substance found in cayenne may help in reducing abdominal fat and weight loss. The heat felt by our body after consuming spicy foods takes up all the energy and calories, thus facilitating an increase in fat burn.
Cayenne’s long list of health benefits does not end here. It is known to help ease nasal congestion by clearing the nasal passage of mucous. A hot cup of tea made with cayenne stimulates the mucus membranes of the nose and helps drain a stuffy nose. In some homeopathic treatments, cayenne is used to cure ear infections as well.
A word of advice: Capsaicin cream should not be used on open wounds or cracked skin and should not applied after hot showers. If consumed in large amounts, capsaicin can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea.