Many societies, especially those of the Americas and China, have a history of using cayenne pepper therapeutically. A powerful plant with many uses, cayenne pepper gained buzz for cleansing and detoxifying regimes, which use the spice to stimulate circulation and neutralize acidity.
Cayenne pepper has been used for a variety of ailments, including indigestion, confusion, tremors, gout, fever, flatulence, sore throat, hemorrhoids, menorrhagia in women, nausea, tonsillitis, scarlet fever, and diphtheria.[1, 2] Let’s take a look at some of the best health benefits cayenne pepper has to offer.
The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
1. Anti-Irritant Properties
The various types of tissue in the body can be irritated for any number of reasons — diet, illness, and environmental toxins, just to list a few. Ironically, cayenne can help "put out the fire" and ease an upset stomach, sore throat, cough, and occasional diarrhea.
2. Clears Congestion
Are you dealing with stuffed up sinuses due to seasonal illness or allergies? Cayenne pepper aids in breaking up and moving congested mucus.
3. Resists Harmful Organisms
When it comes to defense against harmful organisms, cayenne is a proverbial surgical flame thrower. In vitro tests have found that CAY-1, a compound found in cayenne peppers, suppressed the development of 16 different fungal strains while remaining completely non-toxic to healthy cells.
4. Headache Remedy
Its ability to relieve a headache may be related to the pepper’s tendency to stimulate a pain response in a different area of the body, thus diverting the brain’s attention to the new site. After the initial pain reaction, the nerve fibers have less substance P (the nerve’s pain chemical), and the perception of pain is reduced.
5. Digestive Aid
Cayenne is a well-known digestive aid. It stimulates the digestive tract, increasing the flow of enzyme production and gastric juices. This aids the body’s ability to metabolize food (and toxins). Cayenne pepper is also helpful for relieving intestinal gas. It stimulates intestinal peristaltic motion, aiding in both assimilation and elimination.
6. Anti-Redness Properties
Many health ailments result in swelling and redness throughout the body. Cayenne’s ability to soothe systemic cellular distress makes it a great herb for supporting long-term good health.
7. Helps Produce Saliva
Cayenne stimulates the production of saliva, an important component of digestion and oral health maintenance.
8. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Cayenne pepper promotes cardiovascular health, specifically by supporting healthy blood vessels and normal blood consistency. When both of these variables are normal and in-check, the risk of serious cardiac episodes is greatly reduced.
9. Detox Support
Cayenne stimulates the circulatory system and increases the pulse of lymphatic and digestive rhythms. Heating the body streamlines the natural process of detoxification. Cayenne also induces sweating — another important process of detoxification. Combined with lemon juice and honey, cayenne tea is an excellent morning beverage for encouraging detoxification.
10. Soothes Occasional Joint Discomfort
Extremely high in a substance called capsaicin, cayenne pepper sends chemical messengers from the skin into the joint, offering relief for occasional joint discomfort. For this reason, many people with stiff, sore joints use creams and lotion that contain cayenne.
11. Helps Preserve Food
Cayenne is an excellent preservative and has been used to prevent food contamination from bacteria.[10, 11]
12. Promotes Longevity
A study using data collected from almost half a million people found that those who ate spicy foods had a 14% chance of living longer than those that didn’t. Researchers also found that regular consumption of chili peppers aligned with reduced rates of death from respiratory ailments or heart disease.[12, 13]
13. Encourages Healthy Body Weight
Scientists at Laval University in Quebec conducted and study and found that participants who took cayenne pepper for breakfast had less appetite and consumed fewer calories throughout the day. Cayenne is also a metabolic booster and aids the body in burning excess fat.
14. Promotes Heart Health
Studies found that capsaicin supports the heart in pumping blood, as well as encouraging healthy circulation.
15. Remedy for Toothache
When applied directly to the site, cayenne may help ease the discomfort associated with a sore tooth.
16. Topical Remedy
As a poultice, cayenne has been used for snake bites, rheumatism, sores, wounds, and lumbago or lower back discomfort. More research is necessary to confirm its effectiveness.
17. Tastes Great!
This one is purely subjective, and those with sensitive palates may disagree, but many people find that a dash of cayenne can add a delicious zest to otherwise bland food.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Length: 4 minutes
- Astounding Cayenne. Pilgrims Rest, Andrews University, Jan. 2011. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Herbal Extracts. Mercer.Edu, Mercer University. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Jolayemi AT, Ojewole AO. Comparative Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Capsaicin and Ethyl-aAcetate Extract of Capsicum Frutescens Linn [Solanaceae] in Rats. African Health Sciences 13.2 (2013):357-361.
- Wongvibulsin S. A Guide to Natural Ways to Alleviate Allergy and Sinusitis Symptoms. Explore Integrative Medicine, UCLA Health, 2014. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Renault S, et al. CAY-1, a Novel Antifungal Compound from Cayenne Pepper. Medical Mycology., vol. 41, no. 1, 12 Mar. 2003:75-81.
- Presser A. Smart Supplementation - Cayenne. Huntington College of Health Sciences, 2009.
- Spices Exotic Flavors & Medicines Chile Pepper. History & Special Collections UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 2002. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Cayenne. University of Utah Health Library, University of Utah, 2017. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Ehrlich S. Cayenne. University of Maryland Medical Center, University of Maryland, 22 June 2015. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Wahba NM, et al. Antimicrobial Effects of Pepper, Parsley, and Dill and Their Roles in the Microbiological Quality Enhancement of Traditional Egyptian Kareish Cheese. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease., vol. 7, no. 4, 19 Nov. 2009:411-418.
- Omolo MA, et al. Antimicrobial Properties of Chili Peppers. Journal of Infectious Diseases and Therapy, vol. 02, no. 04, 2014. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Frequent Spicy Food Consumption Linked with Longer Life. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 5 Aug. 2015. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
- Lv J, et al. Consumption of Spicy Foods and Total and Cause Specific Mortality: Population Based Cohort Study. The BMJ 351 (2015):h3942.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.