Friday, February 22, 2008

Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is one of nature's most healing and therapeutic foods. I put it in many of my recipes not only because I love spicy food, but because of its healing and therapeutic properties. You've probably heard of capsaicin. It's the main ingredient of cayenne pepper and is used topically to treat everything from osteoarthritis to cancer. According to the University of Maryland:

Native Americans have used cayenne (or red pepper) as both food and medicine for at least 9,000 years. The hot and spicy taste of cayenne pepper is primarily due to an ingredient known as capsaicin. Although it tastes hot, capsaicin actually stimulates a region of the brain that lowers body temperature.

Taken internally or applied topically, capsaicin is a great natural healing remedy. To read more about the health properties of cayenne pepper and capsaicin, read the rest of the University of Maryland article.

Cayenne has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, diuretic, analgesic, expectorant, and diaphoretic properties. Cayenne is used worldwide to treat a variety of health conditions, including weak digestion, chronic pain, shingles, heart disease, sore throats, headaches, high cholesterol levels, poor circulation, and toothache. Capsaicin in cayenne pepper has very powerful pain-relieving properties when applied to the surface of the skin. Applied topically, cayenne cream eases pain by providing diversionary discomfort and by depleting the body's supply of substance P. External preparations are used to reduce arthritic pain and inflammation and to relieve symptoms of bursitis, fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and nerve pain that often follows shingles. Cayenne cream or ointment is particularly effective in easing the joint discomfort of arthritis. Applying cayenne cream to irritated areas may help psoriasis sufferers.

Cayenne is the most useful of the systemic stimulants. It stimulates blood flow, strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. Cayenne is used to regulate blood flow and to strengthen the heart, arteries and capillaries. Cayenne is been used as an overall digestive aid and is considered to improve the entire circulatory system and act as one of the best stimulants. When taken internally, cayenne soothes the digestive tract and stimulates the flow of saliva and stomach secretions. These secretions contain substances that help digest food. Cayenne is also used to relieve constipation as it stimulates gastric secretions, thereby activating a sluggish gastrointestinal tract. Cayenne can be an effective remedy for relieving congestion and coughs. It acts to thin mucus, thus improving the flow of body fluids. It is also used to boost energy and relieve stress-related fatigue and depression. Cayenne has a revitalizing effect on both the mind and body, dispelling tiredness, lethargy, and depression, mainly by opening passageways and dilating blood vessels. Cayenne may reduce the risk of heart attacks. It has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and the risk of blood clots.

Side effects, precautions, interactionsCayenne should not be used by children under two years of age. Topical cayenne ointments should not be used for more than two consecutive days in children. Capsaicin cream may cause an itching, burning sensation on the skin, but these symptoms tend to subside quickly. Capsaicin capsules may cause stomach irritation. Applying too much cayenne cream may produce coughing, sneezing, teary eyes and a scratchy throat. Large internal doses of cayenne may produce vomiting and/or stomach pain. Using capsaicin cream on the skin may increase the risk of cough associated with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

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