Botanical: Capsicum annuum
Family: Solanaceae (nightshade)
Other common names: Chili Pepper, Chilli Pepper, Capsicum, Red Pepper, Hot Pepper, Tabasco Pepper, Spur Pepper, Cherry Pepper, Louisiana Long Pepper, Mexican Chili
Cayenne is a pepper that will warm and improve circulation to all parts of the body, easing the pain of arthritis, muscle spasms, stiff joints and cluster headaches. Included in many cuisines, the herb is a great aid for digestion and the relief of nausea, and it is also believed to regulate heart and blood pressure and even improve athletic performance! Cayenne is called a "catalyst" herb that increases the efficacy of almost every other herb or herbal combination. Recent studies promise interesting developments in the area of cancer research, particularly prostate; hopefully, clinical trials will prove effective.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Cayenne is a very hot pepper that is native to tropical and sub-tropical zones of Latin America and southern Asia. It is a perennial shrub when grown in its native lands, but being frost-sensitive, it is an annual when cultivated outside tropical zones. It is a tender shrub with branched stems, simple, ovate leaves and white-to-green flowers that are followed by pungent fruits. The plant generally reaches a height of two to six feet and thrives in rich, well-drained soil in sun, at a minimum of sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit. Cayenne has been cultivated for thousands of years in tropical Americas, Africa and India, but legend says that Columbus seems to have been the first European to take conscious note of food flavored with this pungent herb and introduced it to Europe upon his return from the New World. Others say it was introduced into England from India in 1548. Archaeologists have found remains of chilies in Mexican sites dating from 7000 B.C., and these hot peppers played an important role in Aztec and Mayan mythology. They are still a mainstay in Latin American and American Southwestern cuisine, but have also been adopted into cuisines around the globe. Cayenne is a member of the Capsicum genus that also includes red and bell peppers, pimento, paprika and tabasco peppers (among others).
Capsicum peppers vary greatly in the amount of heat and are actually categorized from anywhere between 0 to 300,000 scovile units with green peppers at 0, while the hottest, the habaneras, weigh in at 300,000. Cayenne's botanical genus, Capsicum, is derived from the Greek word "to bite," and it is aptly known as the "plant that bites back." Although Cayenne is frequently used in cooking, its medicinal history is long. Cayenne has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Cherokee Indians in North America used it as a stimulant, and the Navajo people used it for weaning children. It is rich in nutrients, a range of carotenes (especially beta-carotene), lutein, zeaxanthin, an alkaloid bitter, essential fatty acids, amino acids, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, B-vitamins and vitamins A, C and E. There is also the active ingredient in Cayenne, capsaicin, a pungent phenolic compound that is structurally similar to eugenol, the pain-relieving compound found in cloves and some other spices, and it also the focus of a great deal of new research in the area of prostate cancer (read below).
Cayenne is an overall digestive aid that stimulates the production of gastric juices that will help ease indigestion, clear excess mucus from the stomach and improve the appetite. It also helps to alleviate stomach ulcers from within and relieves nausea from seasickness. Cayenne is also used as a carminative that helps to relieve gas.
Cayenne relieves pain (taken both internally and applied topically). It provides natural heat, and its ingredient, capsaicin, is a strong pain-relieving agent that alleviates the joint pain of arthritis, rheumatism, muscle spasms, cramps and bowel pain. In addition, Cayenne is believed to trigger the release of endorphins by the brain, chemicals that relieve pain that may be helpful in treating cluster headaches.
Cayenne is considered a powerful stimulant that boosts metabolism, helps to enhance athletic performance and is valuable in treating prostration.
As a cardiovascular stimulant, Cayenne is believed to help regulate the heart and blood pressure. It is said to improve blood circulation and is thought to normalize both high and low blood pressure. It apparently increases heart action without increasing blood pressure, and Cayenne (Capsicum) reportedly significantly lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides.
Cayenne is said to speed up the metabolism of fat and may reduce weight gain due to a high fat diet by increasing the liver enzymes accountable for fat metabolism, and decrease fat deposits in the liver caused by high fat diet. University researchers in South Korea claimed that dietary capsaicin may reduce obesity-induced glucose intolerance by not only suppressing inflammatory responses but also enhancing fatty acid oxidation in adipose tissue and/or liver, both of which are important peripheral tissues affecting insulin resistance. Inflammation related to obesity is known to contribute to the development of a range of disorders, including Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, insulin resistance and fatty liver disease.
Apropos of metabolism of fat, Cayenne may be helpful in weight loss regimens. Slimming ingredients are generally divided into five mechanisms of action: boosting fat burning (thermogenesis); inhibiting protein breakdown; suppressing appetite (boosting satiety/feeling of fullness); blocking fat absorption; regulating mood (linked to food consumption). A 2007 university study from Taiwan found that capsaicin in Cayenne boosts bodily heat generation, burning more energy and inhibiting the growth of fat cells (thermogenesis), while a 2009 study with capsaicin, in combination with green tea extracts, found the action of sustained satiety/feeling of fullness. A 2010 university study from South Korea further indicated that capsaicin may exert its benefits for weight loss by triggering changes in certain proteins in the body.
The research suggests that capsaicin may cause weight loss and stop fat build up by stimulating the expression of certain fat degrading proteins (glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and malate dehydrogenase)
and down-regulating other proteins that work to synthesize fat.
There are interesting developments on the horizon regarding the use of the capsaisin in Cayenne in the area of cancer treatments. In the March, 2006, issue of Cancer Research, Dr. Phillip Koeffler, director of hematology and oncology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported that capsaicin caused almost eighty percent of prostate cancer cells in mice to die. In addition, prostate cancer tumors treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumors in untreated mice. "Capsaicin inhibits the growth of human prostate cancer cell in Petri dishes and mice," said Dr. Koeffler, and based on the findings, Koeffler believe the next step is a trial to see if it works in patients with prostate cancer. "Capsaicin probably has several effects," Koeffler said. Most noticeable is its effect in blocking NF-kappa Beta, a molecular mechanism that promotes cancer cell growth, he noted." In addition, capsaicin also was effective against leukemia, and might be effective in slowing or preventing the growth of other cancers as well," he added. "This study does not prove that capsaicin will prove effective in the treatment of prostate cancer in humans," said Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. "Nor does it tell us that eating peppers rich in the substance will help prevent such cancer, or forestall its growth. But it provides a compelling argument for clinical study of capsaicin in human prostate cancer to put these questions to the test."
Cayenne is considered to be an anti-inflammatory and may ease aspirin-induced upset stomach and damage due to alcohol.
As an astringent, Cayenne is said to be useful in the treatment of diarrhea and may arrest bleeding from ulcers.
Cayenne is an overall tonic that is said to strengthen the immune system and believed to build up resistance to illness, sore throats, sinus infections and colds.
As a vermifuge, Cayenne is said to be effective in destroying many types of worms.
Cayenne is called a "carrier" or "catalyst" herb that increases the efficacy of almost every other herb or herbal combination.
Cayenne is particularly rich in lutein and beta carotene, two substances that are thought to be beneficial to good eye health. Lutein is a carotenoid that is found in many fruits and vegetables, and researchers have found that this nutrient may significantly decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration of the eyes.
Cayenne is believed to counter shock, and when the powder or extract is placed on or under the tongue, it has been said to help alleviate crisis situations such as shock, hemorrhage and heart attack.
Chili's Heat Kills Prostate Cancer Cells according to this interesting article from HealthDay News via Yahoo.com. Click on the title to read the full article.
Avoid large doses of Cayenne Herbal Supplement (many times the recommended dosage) when pregnant and nursing, and large doses may cause stomach pain, kidney or liver problems. In its bulk form, be sure to keep away from eyes and mucous membranes, and wash hands thoroughly after contact with any loose form of Cayenne. If using Cayenne as a topical pain reliever to ease arthritis pain or other discomforts, do not apply Cayenne cream to injured skin or open wounds; and if you ingest Cayenne, and it is scorching your mouth, drink milk to neutralize the heat. Do not take Cayenne without talking to your doctor first if you are taking high blood pressure medicine; blood thinning medicines; medicine for seizures, migraine headache, sedation or muscle relaxants (it may increase absorption). Avoid prolonged use if you have hypertension or peptic ulcers. Asthmatics should not inhale Cayenne fumes, which can be irritating to lungs, and Cayenne may not be appropriate for people with irritable bowel syndrome or bowel inflammation.