Cayenne pepper is not only great condiment to use in the kitchen to prepare taste meals.
In fact, cayenne pepper is considered a super powerhouse of the medicinal herbs and have been used for thousands of years to help treat many health problems.
What Are Cayenne Peppers?
Cayenne peppers belong to the family of chilli peppers and are the cousin of bell-peppers and jalapeños.
Grown originally in Central and South America, they are brought to Europe in the 15th century by Christopher Columbus.
Cayenne peppers have been a popular spice used in many different regional styles of cooking, and they have, also, been used medicinally for thousands of years due to their health properties and high content of antioxidants.
The active compound in cayenne peppers, what gives them their medicinal properties, is called Capsaicin.
Capsaicin is also what determents their hot taste. In fact, the more capsaicin it contains, the hotter it is.
Let’s looks into 10 science-backed benefits of cayenne peppers.
1. Boost Your Metabolism
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers has metabolism-boosting properties.
It helps increase the amount of heat produces by the body, making you burn more calories and faster per day. This process is known as thermogenesis. This is why Cayenne pepper is often associated with weight loss.
2. Can Help Reduce Hunger
Cayenne pepper suppresses the appetite by increasing the feeling of fullness and decreasing the desire for food – especially carbohydrate-rich foods. People who regularly eat spicy food containing chillies tend to eat less food overall and are less likely to become significantly overweight.
How it does this is not completely understood, but one study showed that it reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
3. Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a growing health risk worldwide. In fact, over 40% of adults over 25 have high blood pressure.
Cayenne pepper helps reduce atherosclerosis, encourages fibrinolytic activity, and prevents factors that can lead to the formation of blood clots, all of which can help reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
4. Digestive Health Aid
Cayenne pepper is well-known for its digestive properties. It stimulates the digestive tract by increasing the enzyme and gastric juice production.
While some believe that spicy food may along the causes for stomach ulcers, a review paper has shown that the capsaicin in cayenne peppers could actually help reduce the risk of stomach ulcers.
5. Help Relieve Pain
When applied topically on the skin, Capsaicin has pain relief properties.
This is because capsaicin helps reduce the amount of substance P, a neuropeptide produced by our body that sends the pain signals to the brain.
When less substance P is produced, pain signals can no longer reach the brain, and feelings of pain decrease.
Capsaicin is available as a skin ointment and is often recommended for the following conditions:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Pain from nerve conditions such as shingles
- Lower back pain
- Pain post-surgery
However, it is important to note that capsaicin cream should not be applied to an open wound or broken skin!
6. May Improve Psoriasis
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your body attacks itself.
Psoriasis is an example of an autoimmune disease that appears as patches of red, itchy and flaky skin.
Currently, there is no known cure for psoriasis. However, capsaicin creams have been indicated as help to relieve itching and improve the appearance of psoriasis-affected skin.
One study showed that psoriasis patients treated with capsaicin cream had significantly reduced scaling, redness and patchiness than the patients who received a placebo cream.
7. May Reduce Cancer Risk
Cancer is a disease characterised by uncontrollable growth of the cells.
Capsaicin is being researched for many different types of cancers, for its ability to shrink tumours, prevent metastasis, causing apoptosis, as well as preventing cancer.
According to one research, capsaicin induced approximately 80 percent of prostate cancer cells growing in mice to follow the molecular pathways leading to apoptosis. Prostate cancer tumours treated with capsaicin were about one-fifth the size of tumours in non-treated mice. Promises for cancer treatment has been making researchers further interested in caipsaicin.
8. Clear Congestion
If you are suffering with seasonal colds, sinusitis and are all blocked up - you are going to love this! Cayenne pepper is a great help in breaking up and getting rid of the congested mucus. Think of eating a worm spicy soup and the following runny nose.
9. Rich in vitamins and minerals
Other than capsaicin, cayenne pepper contains high levels of vitamins A and C. These vitamins support healthy hair, skin and vision. Vitamin C helps to generate collagen, which is responsible for keeping organs and tissue in good condition as we age. Taking good amount of these vitamins can boost the immune system and prevent common ailments
In terms of minerals, cayenne pepper is a great source of potassium, which is a fantastic help in balancing the negative effects of too much sodium in the body. Other minerals present in cayenne pepper include copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
10. Easy to Add to Your Diet
If you haven’t incorporated Cayenne pepper into your daily diet you can do this very easily. From whole foods to spice for cooking to dietary supplements – there’s a whole range you can find in your local supermarket or Amazon.
You can add a pinch of cayenne pepper spice to many of your favourite foods, such as eggs, homemade fries and even marinades or add slices of whole cayennes into your salads.
Risks and Precautions
Cayenne peppers are generally known as safe to eat.
However, eating too much cayenne pepper in one sitting may give you a stomach ache and make you feel sick.
If you take a blood thinner like warfarin, check with your doctor before trying cayenne peppers since they may increase your risk of bleeding
Lastly, when applying capsaicin cream to your skin, do not apply it to an open wound or broken skin.