What Is Cayenne Pepper Used For?

Reviewed on 12/10/2020
Cayenne pepper has been used all over the world for adding spice and hotness to recipes.
Cayenne pepper has been used all over the world for adding spice and hotness to recipes.

Cayenne pepper has been used all over the world for adding spice and hotness to recipes. Known by the botanical name Capsicum annuum, it occurs in two forms: green chili pepper and red chili pepper. Cayenne pepper is also known by other names such as:

  • Capsaicin
  • Capsicum
  • African chili
  • Chili
  • Hot pepper
  • Louisiana long pepper or sport pepper
  • Paprika
  • Red chili
  • Spur pepper
  • Tabasco pepper

Cayenne pepper grows worldwide in places such as India, East Africa, Mexico, and certain areas of the United States.

Does cayenne pepper offer any health benefits?

Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin as its active ingredient that is available in the form of supplements and topical applications. 

Pain relief: Market preparations of capsaicin most commonly include pain-relieving ointments. Topical application of these ointments is effective against

Nutrients: Cayenne pepper contains vitamins such as:

It is also a source of minerals such as:

When taken by mouth, cayenne pepper has been reported to have many other health benefits. However, scientific evidence regarding many of its actions is lacking. Instead of going for a capsaicin supplement, you can simply add cayenne pepper while preparing your food and take advantage of its reported health benefits that include:

  • Digestion: Cayenne pepper may act as a digestive tonic and help reduce flatulence. Too much of it can however cause heartburn.
  • Blood circulation issues: Cayenne pepper improves blood circulation by promoting blood flow in the smaller blood vessels. It also has a mild blood-thinning action.
  • Respiratory problems: Cayenne pepper may help relieve chest congestion and help in respiratory issues such as cough, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections. Capsaicin, derived from the peppers, is believed to be effective on various forms of rhinitis by reducing nasal hypersensitivity response to various allergens. In a study conducted on 42 patients with allergic and nonallergic rhinitis, an intranasal solution of capsaicin and eucalyptol (added to reduce the burning sensation that some patients experience with capsaicin) was used two times a day for 15 days, and this was compared with placebo (no drug). There was a statistical improvement in nasal congestion, sinus pain and pressure, and headache.
  • Weight control: Capsaicin increases heat in your body, thus boosting your metabolism and burning your calories. It can also make you feel less hungry and thus help in weight loss.
  • Anti-fungal Properties: CAY-1 is a substance found in cayenne pepper. It is known to attack the cell walls of the fungus. This property may help to fight against fungal infections of the skin and the mucous membrane (inner lining of the mouth and gut).
  • Prevention against cancer: Studies have suggested that capsaicin may help in slowing down cancer growth and even destroy cancer cells, but we need more evidence.

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Is cayenne pepper safe for everyone?

Experts in the United States generally consider cayenne pepper and capsaicin supplements to be safe. However, they may cause undesired effects if you are using or consuming them for the first time. Here are a few things that you should remember:

  • Start with small amounts: Capsaicin in cayenne pepper may cause allergic reactions. If you are using it for the first time in foods, start with small amounts and check for any allergy. Eating too much can also cause heartburn.
  • Remove the seeds: Removing the seeds from cayenne pepper may help reduce the burning sensation in your mouth and stomach. You can eat bananas to avoid the burning sensation caused due to cayenne pepper.
  • Take care while using ointments: Wash your hands thoroughly after using cayenne pepper or capsaicin-containing ointments. If they get in your eyes accidentally, they cause a burning sensation. Do not apply capsaicin ointments on areas of broken skin. You can use disposable gloves while handling cayenne pepper or capsaicin-containing ointments.
  • Ask your doctor: Before trying capsaicin supplements, always ask your doctor if you can take it. If you are on certain medications, capsaicin may interact with the drugs and cause side effects.

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References
Capsaicin. Available at: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/ut1025spec

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12627807/

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/complementary-and-alternative-therapies-for-allergic-rhinitis-and-conjunctivitis?sectionName=Capsaicin%20(Capsicum%20annum)&search=cayenne%20pepper&topicRef=1392&anchor=H1144540401&source=see_link#H1144540401

Cayenne. Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Cayenne#:~:text=Cayenne%20pepper%20may%20help%20the,may%20act%20as%20a%20tonic.

Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-cayenne-pepper#1

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