Cayenne pepper, also known as red hot chili pepper, bird pepper, cow horn pepper, or Guinea spice, is a hot chili pepper named after the city of Cayenne in French Guiana and is used to flavor dishes.
The pepper is dried and ground, and then sifted to turn it into a powdered spice. It is typically used in Asian cuisine to add spice to dishes. This powerful compound also has a history of being used therapeutically in China. Recently, it has been gaining buzz as an important ingredient in the Master Cleanse, which utilizes cayenne pepper to lose weight, neutralize the body’s acidity, and stimulate circulation.
Aids with Digestion
One of the major benefits cayenne pepper has on the body is its positive impact on the digestive system. This power-packed pepper powder helps produce saliva, which not only aids digestion but also prevents bad breath. Consuming this pepper as part of your diet activates your salivary glands, which kicks in the digestive process. It also stimulates gastric juices, acidic fluids released by the stomach glands to promote digestion and help the body to process food and toxins.
Prevents Blood Clots
Blood clots are obstructions in your blood vessels and arteries that curb blood flow through the circulatory system. Cayenne pepper promotes fibrinolytic activity and aids to prevent blood clots in the body. It has also been shown that cayenne pepper is effective in averting heart attacks. The capsaicin found in this powerful pepper helps to clear lipid deposits that narrow arteries and further dilates blood vessels and arteries to clear the clots.
Relieves Headaches and Migraine Pain
Research has shown that this spicy pepper stimulates, in a different part of your body, a pain response. This works well because what we consider a pleasant spicy flavor the body responds to as a slight pain. Due to the spice, the brain then places its attention on that new area and will no longer focus on the pain in your head, which is a headache or a migraine. You are fooling your body to feel the pain elsewhere so that your head is no longer the main attraction for the sensation of pain. It’s an odd and interesting effect, but it has been known to work!
Helps with Weight Loss
A significant ingredient in the Master Cleanse, a diet used to cleanse the body and shed pounds, the cayenne pepper has been found to curb your appetite. This is especially true when it is consumed in the morning, thus cutting your cravings throughout the day. As an anti-inflammatory food, it also reduces bloating that comes from food allergies, sensitivities, and infections.
Beats Colds and Flu
This mighty pepper contains antioxidants and beta carotene that supports your immune system. It breaks up the congested mucus and moves it through the body. Once it has left, symptoms of the cold or flu are reduced. Aside from helping you fight this nasty bug, cayenne pepper also raises your body temperature, which leads you to sweat and increases your immune system’s activity.
Used as an Anti-Irritant
Cayenne pepper is also known for its anti-irritant properties, making it beneficial in easing upset stomachs, easing ulcers, and even helping to relieve diarrhea. It is commonly believed that cayenne pepper, or any spicy pepper, when consumed excessively, can lead to gastric ulcers because it secretes acids. In fact, people with ulcers are advised to limit using cayenne pepper.
However, it has been found through recent research that the active ingredient in chili, capsaicin, is not the cause for ulcer symptoms, but a benefit. Research has also found that cayenne pepper does not activate but merely inhibits acid secretion. It also promotes mucus secretions, alkali, and gastric mucosal blood flow, which actually helps to prevent and heal ulcers.
Relieves Nerve and Joint Pain
When applied to the skin, cayenne pepper has powerful pain alleviating properties. Substance P is a chemical that carries pain receptors to the brain, and cayenne pepper helps reduce this Substance P. When there is less of this, the pain messages that reach the brain are reduced or limited and you feel relief.
Used as an Anti-Cancer Agent
Capsaicin has also shown, through various studies, a beneficial role as a natural remedy for cancer, especially for prostate cancer. A study done by the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine found that capsaicin suppresses the growth of cancer cells and even prevents further activation of new threatening formations.
Recent data from California’s Loma Linda University also suggested that cayenne pepper is effective in preventing lung cancer in smokers. The high amounts of capsaicin can hinder the tobacco formation induced tumors in the lungs. The same effects have also been found in liver tumors when they were introduced to cayenne pepper.
Keeps You Youthful
Cayenne pepper can help to slow down the aging process using its Vitamin E packed properties. Vitamin E helps organs in the body function properly, fights free radicals, repairs damaged hair and skin, balances hormones, boosts energy levels, and improves vision. No wonder cayenne is called a super food!
Aids in Detox Support
Cayenne pepper is also known to boost your metabolism and increase your body temperature. It also eliminates acidity and stimulates your body’s circulation, thus moving toxins and bacteria out of your body. Furthermore, it regulates blood sugar and restores the circulatory system.
Consuming cayenne pepper as part of a meal or as an added spice is generally deemed safe. If, however, you consider taking it as a supplement, it could possibly lead to a range of side effects.
Some mild symptoms include:
- Tearing Up
- Runny Nose
- Burning in the Mouth
- Upset Stomach
An overdose of this pepper could also lead to dangerous side effects, such as:
- Inflammation of the Stomach
- Inflammation of the Intestinal Linings
- Kidney Damage
Consuming cayenne pepper supplements during pregnancy could lead to:
- Acid Reflux
- Heart Burn
- Issues with Digestion
It is advised by The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid cayenne pepper supplements.