Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens)
Cayenne is that pepper that we use to season our taco meat, or add to our pizza. It is used to spice up a nice pot of chili. It is also a medicinal herb, if you weren't already aware of this aspect. It has been used for thousands of years to help the gastrointestinal system and the circulatory system. Others use it to relieve pain.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Cayenne is sometimes used for weight loss. Eating the herb stimulates the body to produce heat, which increases the metabolism. It also raises the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which can suppress the appetite. This herb is also used to equalize the blood circulation and to fight off disease. It has been used to treat shock, hemorrhage and heart attack. It works to raise the action of the heart without raising blood pressure. This herb also triggers sweating, which can help cool you down in a hot climate.
Doses of capsaicin are used to treat fever, malaria, loss of appetite, seasickness, alcoholism, diarrhea and menstrual cramps as well as cluster headaches, heartburn and indigestion. It is currently being studied for possible use in preventing cardiovascular disease like stroke, heart disease and hardening of the arteries. Cayenne may be useful in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. It can also be used as an expectorant.
Externally The herb is added to salves and ointments to be used for arthritis, bursitis, shingles, diabetic neuropathy, and muscle spasms. Apply it to the sore joints and you are treated to a warming sensation that eases away the pain. This herb can also be used as a gargle for laryngitis. It is also used sometimes for toothache.
Fruit The fruits of this herb are used as medicine, food and seasoning.
Too much cayenne can cause stomach problems, liver and kidney damage and possibly nerve issues. Follow the dosage you are given by your care giver or on the label. Do not apply creams with this herb in it close to the eyes, mucous membranes or on broken skin. Some people may react to cayenne by experiencing ulcers, blisters or skin inflammation. When applying this herb topically, be sure and wash hands thoroughly after you're done so it doesn't affect any sensitive areas.
Preparation and Dosage
Cayenne is easy to find as fresh or dried fruit, powdered dried fruit, in capsules, tinctures and tablets. Topical capsaicin creams and salves usually contain 0.025 to 0.075% of the herb. Creams may be applied three or four times per day. A burning sensation may be felt when the cream is first applied. A few drops of tincture can be adequate for toothache.