Cayenne is a spicy tasting herb that is orange or red in color. People sprinkle it onto their food and incorporate it into recipes in order to add some heat and flavor to dishes. Cayenne also has healing properties, and herbalists have been using it for years to build immunity, fight off colds, soothe ulcers and help detoxify the body. Recently, a weight loss diet called "The Master Cleanse" has used a cayenne pepper tea to flush the body of toxins and promote weight loss. Make a cayenne pepper tea with water, lemon, a generous helping of cayenne and any additional ingredients that will help you achieve your health goals.
While previous studies looking into the chili pepper as a possible weight loss supplement had mixed results, a November 2010 study spearheaded by Dr. Richard Mattes, a distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, showed eating less than a teaspoon (0.1 to 0.3 grams) of dried cayenne promoted calorie burn and decreased appetites. After a meal sprinkled with cayenne pepper, the participants tended to eat an average of 60 calories less at the next meal and burned 10 more calories on their own. The individuals with positive results did not consume cayenne regularly before the study and reported positive weight loss in as little as three weeks.
Cayenne in medicine
Native Americans have used cayenne for its medicinal and culinary properties as far back as 9,000 years. It's also an herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, as well as in Japanese and Korean medical practices. Cayenne, from the Capsicum family of vegetables, originated in Central and South America but was named after the town of Cayenne in French Guiana. The pepper is the fruit of the plant -- a hollow, long pod that becomes red, yellow or orange when ripe. Cayenne is commonly used in cooking -- the peppers are either eaten raw or cooked or dried and used as a powdered spice.
What more can cayenne do?
Weight reduction is not the only positive benefit you can get from cayenne. This pepper's most active component is capsaicin, which gives cayenne its heat. Cayenne also has vitamin A, vitamin C, phenolic compound flavonoids and the phytonutrient carotenoids that provides the bright color. These powerful antioxidants help your body defend itself from toxic free radicals that can damage cells and weaken the immune system. The antioxidants in cayenne protect the body against many forms of cancer and premature skin aging and brain degeneration. Flavonoids have been found to have antiviral, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet properties, while carotenoids maximize the health-giving activities of vitamin A and promote cell-to-cell communication. It is believed that poor communication among cells lead to an overgrowth which in turn, leads to cancer.
Find out how else cayenne can help:
1. Pain reliever
Applied to the skin, cayenne inhibits the production of Substance P, a short-chain polypeptide which carries the pain impulses from the nerve endings to the central nervous system. Cayenne prevents the pain messages from reaching the brain and provides pain relief, especially in the following disease conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Herpes zoster
- Post-surgery pain
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
As capsaicin cream, cayenne reduces the symptoms of psoriasis, a chronic skin disease characterized by itchy, raised red patches on the skin with whitish flakes that can become inflamed in more serious cases.
3. Energy booster
Taken internally in powder form or as a drink, cayenne provides an energy boost and has a rejuvenating effect. As a result, it eliminates lethargy and fatigue as a stimulant.
Eating cayenne three times a day may be a too much for the average person. Thankfully, a range of cayenne products are available.
- For topical treatment: Apply capsaicin cream (0.025 to 0.075 percent capsaicin) to the affected area up to four times a day. Pain relief is gradual and may be felt in three to four days.
- For oral intake: Capsaicin capsules (30 to 120 milligrams) can be taken up to three times a day. As a powder, place one half to one teaspoon of cayenne in one cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Drink one teaspoon of the brewed solution three to four times a day, with more water.
- Cayenne as a supplement is not recommended for children.
- Taking capsaicin capsules can produce a slight burning feeling in the stomach, which is tolerable and dissipates quickly. If you have stomach ulcers, consult with your doctor first before starting on oral cayenne.
- Do not apply cayenne cream to open wounds. Cayenne applied to the skin may cause a burning sensation. Test it on a small area first before regular use.
Pregnant women may consume cayenne cooked into food, but should
consult their physician before taking the herb in supplement form.