Capsicum annuum, C. frutescens. Family: Solanaceae
Capsaicin, capsacum, African chili, chili, hot pepper, Louisiana long pepper or sport
pepper, paprika, red chili, spur pepper, tabasco pepper
Cayenne is a hot chili pepper extract. It’s commonly used in cooking. Bell pepper
and paprika are the mild forms of this pepper.
When you apply it to your skin (topically), cayenne works to relieve pain. It contains
capsaicin. This is used in ointment form for pain relief. Ointments made from cayenne
stop muscle and joint pain by "confusing" pain transmitters. They also block pain
messages from the skin.
When taken by mouth, cayenne may also aid in digestion and improve circulation. It
may also reduce cholesterol and blood fat levels and decrease body weight.
Medically valid uses
Cayenne is commonly used in these ways:
Topical analgesic. It desensitizes local nerves and decreases pain due to certain conditions. These
include post-herpetic neuralgia caused by shingles. Studies show that applying 0.025%
to 0.075% capsaicin cream topically may also aid in short-term pain relief. It eases
pain from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriasis. It also relieves pain
due to neuralgias. These include shingles and diabetic neuropathy.
Diaphoretic. This promotes sweating.
Sialagogue. This increases the flow of saliva.
Rubefacient. This increases surface blood flow when applied to the skin.
Self-defense. It's used in pepper spray.
There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.
Cayenne pepper may help the circulatory system. It may help control blood flow, and
ease symptoms of Raynaud disease helping blood flow. It may also strengthen the heart,
arteries, capillaries, and nerves.
It may act as a tonic. This may help your digestive system work better. It may also
stop bleeding from ulcers and help flatulent dyspepsia. It's also claimed to aid in
In the respiratory system, cayenne may help break up congestion due to bronchitis.
Cayenne may also help to prevent infections. These include colds and chills, sinus
infections, and sore throats. As a gargle, cayenne can be used for laryngitis. It
works well with myrrh.
When you apply it externally, it may help with toothache, lumbago, arthritis, and
Cayenne is available in many forms. It comes as an ointment, oil or entire plant,
in dried fruits, and crushed or powdered. It’s best to keep it in a sealed, light-resistant
The fruit is the part of the plant that’s used. It should be harvested when fully
ripe, removed from the calyx, and then dried in the shade.
For external use, follow the instructions on the package as dosage and frequency may
vary based on age and reason for use.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
Excessive consumption of pepper that has capsaicin in it can cause problems. These
include acute gastritis and hemorrhagic gastritis. You should not let cayenne touch
your mucous membranes, especially your eyes. In rare cases, this can cause urticaria
or skin irritation.
Don't use cayenne if you have an active gastric or duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis,
or irritable bowel syndrome.
Don't apply cayenne to injured skin. People who are allergic to cayenne should not
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare provider before
using any herbal medicines.