May 2, 2016
Cayenne (Capsicum species)
Cayenne is one species of the pepper plant that contain Capsaicin. Capsaicin is the chemical that lends the spicy hot flavor to Southwestern and Latin American cuisine. It also happens to be the chemical that is anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant making it a medicinal herb.
Anti-irritant seems like a misnomer to anyone who has gotten capsaicin in their eyes or on mucous membranes - it stings! However, studies have shown that Capsaicin can ease and heal aspirin-induced upset stomach and fight ulcers. It also reduces pain by depleting the chemical messengers (substance P) that travel the nerves causing pain.
A small amount of cayenne powder in water makes a great remedy for sore throats and toothaches. Topical application to scabies, psoriasis, shingles, and achy muscles has helped relieve pain and itching.
Cayenne has antibacterial properties against bacteria such as Bacillus and Streptococcus that commonly cause food spoilage which is probably why it has been used for centuries to flavor food.
Cayenne pepper also opens bronchial passages and eases colds and fevers. It contains carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, minerals, and antioxidants. All of these chemicals help promote healing after inflammation, the common denominator of many painful conditions.
Cayenne can be grown outside in the Southern states and indoors at sunny windows. Grow your own or purchase organic to reduce your risk of contaminants.
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra (1998): Cayenne makes an excellent tonic. Take ¼ tsp in water three times a day to benefit heart and circulation, strokes, colds, flu, diminished vitality, headaches, indigestion, depression, and arthritis. Make a poultice with plantain leaves and cayenne and apply over foreign objects embedded in flesh. The poultice will assist the tissues in expelling the foreign body.