Cayenne pepper is not a true pepper but belongs to the same family as green peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant, the Solanaceae. The mature fruit pod can be eaten raw, or dried and stored whole, ground or in tincture form, and is a popular aromatic and pungent spice. It has an initial heating action, followed by a cooling action, commonly availed of in hotter climates. It is regarded to be the most powerful stimulant in the plant kingdom.
The commercial classification of cayenne peppers is not botanically based but is determined by ‘Scoville Heat Units (H.U.) or by determining the capsaicinoid profile by high-pressure liquid chromatography.
Cayenne is the first aid herb of choice for heart attack, stroke, bleeding or shock. It is indicated in the clinic as a circulatory stimulant and as a specific hypotensive (lower blood pressure) and haemostat (balance the body). It is widely known to increase the elasticity of the veins and capillaries. It is also a sialagogue.
Cayenne’s pungency is due to its capsaicinoids but it has many active metabolites: phenolic compounds, steroidal saponins, carotenoids and flavonoids. It is one of the highest botanic sources of Vits. C and E. It’s Vit. K content helps make it a powerful haemostat.
Meta-analysis has found that cayenne reduces pain. This is due to its ability to deplete local supplies of substance P, which transmits pain and itching signals from the type C nerve fibres in the skin to the spinal cord. This selective analgesia has also been shown to prevent cluster headaches. Cayenne’s effect on plasma glucose and metabolism has made it popular with the weight loss market as it can increase a person’s metabolic rate. It has also been shown to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, which is associated with ulcer formation.
Cayenne can be used daily by sprinkling it on foods, for the more adventurous add ¼ teaspoon to ½ glass of water and drink back, wash down with a full glass of water !!
The Master Herbalist.