Medicinal Use and Health Benefit of Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum)
"Cayenne pepper - prized for thousands of years for its healing power. Folklore from around the world recounts amazing results using cayenne pepper in simple healing and in baffling health problems. But cayenne pepper is not just a healer from ancient history. Recent clinical studies have been conducted on many of the old-time health applications for this miracle herb. Again and again, the therapeutic value of cayenne pepper has been medically validated."Dr. Patrick Quillin The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper
In a recent letter to the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, three Italian doctors describe how they were able to reduce patients' reported dyspepsia symptoms by more than half - by prescribing red pepper powder. In a study of 30 patients with functional dyspepsia, half of the participants received a placebo, while the other half took 2.5 grams of red pepper powder each day (divided into capsules taken before each of three meals). Both groups took their respective treatments for five weeks, and rated their symptoms each day on a scale of zero to three (higher scores indicated more severe symptoms). By the third week, the red pepper group showed a significant advantage over the control group. And by week five, the pepper group's symptoms had declined 60 percent from their baseline scores - while the control group's scores had only decreased about half as much. The symptom scores included ratings for pain, a feeling of fullness, nausea, and an overall score. The red pepper powder produced significant gains in all four areas.
Many herbalists believe that Cayenne is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the entire digestive system, but also for the heart and circulatory system. It acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other herbs when used with them.
Cayenne is a medicinal and nutritional herb. It is a very high source of Vitamins A and C, has the complete B complexes, and is very rich in organic calcium and potassium, which is one of the reasons it is good for the heart.
Cayenne can rebuild the tissue in the stomach and the peristaltic action in the intestines. It aids elimination and assimilation, and helps the body to create hydrochloric acid, which is so necessary for good digestion and assimilation, especially of proteins. All this becomes very significant when we realize that the digestive system plays the most important role in mental, emotional and physical health, as it is through the digestive system that the brain, glands, muscles and every other part of the body are fed.
Cayenne has been known to stop heart attacks within 30 seconds. If a heart attack should occur, it is suggested that a teaspoon of extract be given every 15 minutes or a teaspoon of Cayenne in a glass of hot water be taken until the crisis has passed. According to Dr. Richard Anderson, using cayenne and hawthorn berries together has a most incredible effect upon the heart. He believes that a regimen of cayenne and hawthorn berries for several months will greatly strengthen the heart, and possibly prevent heart attacks. He states further that if an attack were to occur in someone who had followed this regimen, chances are very good that no damage would occur. He tells the following story about his mother:
“I had her taking hawthorn berries and cayenne when she had a heart attack at the age of 79. Her diet had not been the best, and she was in an extremely stressful situation. While in the hospital, they found three blocked arteries and wanted to operate immediately. They did not think that she could survive for more than a few weeks if they didn’t operate. (How many have heard that story!) The doctors thought it would be very risky to operate, but they had her there, and there was a lot of money to be made. So they decided to take some tests in the hopes that they could find an excuse to operate. In spite of the fact that she had been taking lots of aspirin for her arthritis, smoked like she was the reincarnation of a boiler factory, and had just had a heart attack, they found that her heart was incredibly strong. In fact, they felt that her heart was stronger than most people in their 30’s! The good news was that not only did she survive the operation, but also she stopped smoking! Well worth the operation, don’t you think? In my opinion, that was the best thing the doctors ever did for her. Well, that is what hawthorn and cayenne can do for the heart, and every good herbalist knows it; every good doctor should also know it, but very few do.”
It is a good idea to always have some Cayenne extract on hand for emergencies. The following demonstrate only a few of the remarkable emergency uses of cayenne.
If a hemorrhage occurs in the lungs, stomach, uterus or nose, it is suggested that a teaspoon of extract (or a teaspoon of cayenne powder in a cup of hot water) be given every 15 minutes until the crisis has passed. The bleeding should stop in 10-30 seconds. The reason for this is that rather than the blood pressure being centralized, it is equalized by the Cayenne, and the clotting action of the blood becomes more rapid. For external bleeding, take cayenne internally and pour cayenne directly on the wound.
In a double-blind study, 30 individuals with dyspepsia were given either 2.5 grams daily of red pepper powder (divided up and taken prior to meals) or placebo for 5 weeks. By the third week of treatment, individuals taking red pepper were experiencing significant improvements in pain, bloating, and nausea as compared to placebo, and these relative improvement lasted through the end of the study.
A placebo-controlled crossover study failed to find benefit, but it only enrolled 11 participants, far too few to have much chance of identifying a treatment effect.
All double-blind studies of topical capsaicin (or cayenne) suffer from one drawback: it isn't really possible to hide the burning sensation that occurs during initial use of the treatment. For this reason, such studies probably aren't truly double-blind. It has been suggested that instead of an inactive placebo, researchers should use some other substance (such as camphor) that causes at least mild burning. However, such treatments might also have therapeutic benefits; they have a long history of use for pain as well.
Because of these complications, the evidence for topical treatments cited below is less meaningful than it might at first appear.
Capsaicin cream is well established as a modestly helpful pain-relieving treatment for post-herpetic neuropathy (the pain that lingers after an attack of shingles) peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain that occurs most commonly as a side effect of diabetes, but may occur with HIV as well as other conditions), nerve pain after cancer surgery and arthritis.
Capsaicin instilled into the nose may be helpful for cluster headache. (The fact that this has even been considered a viable treatment option shows how painful cluster headaches can be!)
Actual cayenne rather than capsaicin has been tested for pain as well. A 3-week, double-blind trial of 154 individuals with back pain found that cayenne applied topically as a plaster improved pain to a greater extent than placebo.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of almost 200 individuals found that use of topical capsaicin can improve itching as well as overall severity of psoriasis. Benefits were also seen in a smaller double-blind study of topical capsaicin for psoriasis. Topical capsaicin is thought to be helpful for various itchy skin conditions, such as prurigo nodularis, but double-blind studies are lacking.
"Cayenne has the ability to clear the blood of matter and gasses that cause digestive problems and to help people who suffer from cold hands or feet. It alleviates inflammation and can break up the deposits that contribute to the pain of arthritis. It clears sinus congestion, conjunctivitis, and spongy, bleeding gums. Because it also has astringent qualities, it can stop bleeding and prevent swelling. A source of Vitamin C, it rejuvenates the entire body when energy is depleted and is such a powerful stimulant that just a few sips of cayenne water or a few grains of cayenne on the lips may help prevent shock or depression in times of physical or emotional trauma.