Cayenne pepper is a spice used mostly in Cajun and Creole cooking as well as in cuisine found in Southeast Asia, China, Southern Italy, and Mexico.1 The Native Americans have used cayenne pepper for medicine and food for over 9,000 years, and other cultures have traditionally used it to aid in poor appetite, circulatory problems, and stomach issues.1 Cayenne is a type of chili pepper2 that’s closely related to bell peppers and paprika.3 It’s commonly ground into a powder and used orally or topically for medical purposes.4 Cayenne contains the substance capsaicin, which gives it its hot flavor and pain reducing qualities.
Cayenne Pepper Uses and Health Benefits
Seasoning your dishes with cayenne pepper or taking cayenne pepper capsules can have many benefits. Research shows that you can eat cayenne pepper for blood pressure5 and that it helps curb appetite, which makes cayenne pepper for weight loss a viable natural treatment.6 Along with these cayenne pepper benefits, you can adopt a cayenne pepper diet to aid in the following conditions:
- Heart disease - Since cayenne pepper works to lower inflammation and you can take cayenne pepper for blood pressure, it’s a strong natural remedy for controlling heart disease. It’s also recommended because you can take cayenne pepper for weight loss, which helps reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Back Pain- Back pain is often caused by inflammation, and since one of the cayenne pepper benefits is to reduce inflammation, taking cayenne pepper capsules can help curb your back pain. You can also apply it topically (use a few dashes mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil) to relieve achy joints and muscles.8 Be aware that this can cause a burning sensation at first, but you should adapt to it after using the mixture for a week or so.
- Heavy Menstrual Bleeding- A cayenne pepper diet is also said to help women who experience heavy bleeding during menstruation.
- Sinus Infection- Another benefit of cayenne pepper is that it acts as a decongestant.8 Eating a cayenne pepper diet helps combat symptoms of a sinus infection.
- Sore Throat - Cayenne is used in many home remedies for coughs and sore throats to help reduce swelling and combat infection.9
- Ulcers - Taking cayenne pepper capsules can aid in the treatment of ulcers in the digestive tract by reducing pain and killing bacteria.9
Cayenne Pepper Side Effects and Precautions
Though there are many cayenne pepper benefits, from taking cayenne pepper for weight loss to eating cayenne pepper for blood pressure regulation, there are several cayenne pepper side effects when taken in high doses. These side effects include:
- Mild burning during the first few applications
- Severe burning if it gets into sensitive areas like the eyes
- Allergic reaction in some people
- Burning of the mouth when too much is taken orally
- Watery eyes
Though cayenne pepper side effects are generally mild, it’s recommended you talk to a doctor first if you’re using cayenne pepper to treat medical conditions.