Capsicum minimum, Capsicum annuum,
or capsicum frutescens
Also called chillies,
chilli peppers, cayenne peppers,
it is the common red hot chilli
pepper (used in many Asian countries
as a kitchen spice).
Cayenne is named after the
city of Cayenne in French Guiana on the
north-eastern coast of South America.
Cayenne has a spiciness, or "hotness",
or piquancy rating of between 30,000 and
50,000 Scoville Units. The Scoville Unit
also known as the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU)
is named after the American chemist Wilbur
Scoville to measure "hotness".
Cayennne pepper is a very
good source of vitamin
A (in the form of pro-vtamin
A carotenoids, including beta-carotene).
Two teaspoonfuls of dried cayenne pepper
can provide up to 30% of our daily vitamin
A RDA. Besides vitamin A, cayenne pepper
The main medicinal properties
of cayenne peppers or chillies (as they
are also know in many countries) are derived
from the chemical called capsaicin. The
"hotter" teh chilli, the more
capsaicin it contains.
Capsaicin is being studied
for its health benefits. Scientists are
studying capsaicin's health benefits in
the fight and prevention of arthritis,
psoriasis, inflammation, diabetic neuropathy,
cardiovascular problems, stuffy nose,
congested lungs, and stomach ulcers. And
there have been many encouraging results
that show capsaicins effectiveness in
treating and preventing these conditions.
A concentrated capsaicin
cream under the brand name Zostrix, nas
been approved by the FDA for the treatment
of post-shingles attack pain (post-herperic
Taken internally, cayenne
pepper has also been anecdotally regarded
as a treatment for heart disease, although
more clinical trials need to be conducted
before this is considered conclusive.
Anaesthetic (pain-killing) characteristics.
Carminative (relaxes the stomach and reduces
Topical analgesic (for pain).
Reduces incidence of thromboembolic (potentially
fatal blood clotting) disease.
Failing digestion in the elderly.
Lower back pain.
Post-shingles neuralgia (used as a cream
Protection of the stomach from irritation
due to anti-inflammatory drugs.
Large doses may irritate the stomach in
Due to its anti-clotting properties, people
with bleeding problems (slow clotting
time) should not take cayenne.
As a common food, cayenne
is generally regarded as safe for normal
consumption. Some reports indicate that
cayenne may aggravate stomach ulcers,
but further studies show that it isn't
Cayenne may increase the
absorption amout of the asthma drug theophylline,
potentially leading to toxic levels.
Method & use
Ingestion: Add 1 or 2 drops to herbal
teas or tinctures (every few hours if
External: Apply the cream to small areas
only. (Avoid sensitive areas. Eg. Lips
Tip: If the cayenne taken
is too hot for comfort and starts to ‘burn’,
eating a banana will help to ‘cool’
For topical applications,
capsaicin creams are approved as over-the-counter
medication. Use as directed.
Homemade tincture can be
made by soaking fresh or dried peppers
in vodka for a few days. Add 3-4 drops
in herbal tea or warm water, 3 or 4 times
a day. As an alcohol substitute, use vinegar
For chronic back pain (lumbago),
add the cayenne tincture to a liniment.
Quarter teaspoon (1ml) tincture to three-quarter
teaspoon (3ml) liniment. Apply sparingly
and cover with plastic. Leave on for 30
minutes. Apply daily.
If you find cayenne peppers
to be too "hot", a similar but
milder plant alternative would be
Ginger is also easier on the digestive
system, and suitable for the onset of
chills, period pain and menstrual cramps.