Cayenne Pepper: Spicy & Surprising Health Benefits
It’s one of the spiciest things on the planet, and while it’s routinely used to flavor a number of dishes, there’s no denying the benefits that cayenne pepper can have on your health.
The curve-tipped pepper, which also comes in powdered form and is regularly referred to as the chili pepper, contains a high amount of capsaicin, and this compound is responsible for most of its benefits – as well as its fiery, flavor. What’s more, the pepper also contains other essential nutrients, which boosts its nutritional value. These include vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese and powerful antioxidants.
What Are The Benefits Of Cayenne Pepper?
1. It may help with your digestion
It is possible that cayenne pepper can help to improve your digestive system.
For one, cayenne pepper helps to stimulate the salivary glands, and this then helps to produce saliva which serves to kick-start the digestive process. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine suggested that cayenne pepper can not only help to increase the production of digestive fluids, but it also helps to deliver enzymes to the stomach.
Also, the study found that cayenne pepper may help to boost the stomach’s defense against infections, thus reducing the risk of stomach ulcers.
2. May help ease body pain
As mentioned, cayenne power contains the compound capsaicin, which has painful, powerful pain-relieving properties. It’s no wonder that capsaicin is often found in pain-relieving creams.
Capsaicin helps to reduce the amount of substance P – a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain – and the reduction of substance P means relief. As such, capsaicin can help to address joint and muscle pain associated with arthritis, lower back pain, pain after surgery, fibromyalgia and even migraines.
Additionally, research from Northwestern University suggested that capsaicin helps to encourage the release of dopamine, a feel-good hormone that provides feelings of pleasure.
3. Helps to manage psoriasis symptoms
Psoriasis is a skin condition in which skin cells build upon each other, resulting in scaly, itchy and patches. However, research has suggested that capsaicin cream may help treat psoriasis.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that after using a topical cream that contained 0.0025 capsaicin over a period of six weeks, 44 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis noted a significant decrease in scaling and redness.
4. Helps you fight colds and flus
If you’re battling with the sniffles, perhaps cayenne pepper is the medicine your immune system needs. This is because it’s full of antioxidants that help to protect your immune system, but it can also help to address flu symptoms.
For instance, research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that a capsaicin nasal spray helped to provide relief from symptoms such as sneezing, a stuffy nose, postnasal drip, and congestion, 10 minutes after usage. It appears that capsaicin helps to not thin the mucus, but it also helps to stimulate the sinuses, thus encouraging proper air circulation.
5. It contains anti-cancer properties
While research is mostly based on laboratory and animal studies, cayenne pepper may be an effective way to reduce the risk of cancer.
According to a study from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, capsaicin can help to prevent the growth of cancer cells. Additionally, a separate study found in the Anticancer Research journal suggested that capsaicin can cause cell death for prostate, pancreatic and skin cancer.
6. Boosts your heart health
Cayenne pepper can help to protect your heart’s health in a number of ways.
For one, it can help to reduce cholesterol levels as well as triglyceride levels. It can also help to lower blood pressure, as well as prevent the formation of blood clots.
Is cayenne pepper for everyone?
Unfortunately, not for everyone. If you struggle with heartburn, it would be advisable to stay clear of spicy food like cayenne pepper. They may also cause an upset stomach, sweating, and runny nose.
In regards to the topical application, capsaicin creams may cause skin irritation, burning, and itching. So it’s best to be wary if you have sensitive skin.
How do I buy cayenne pepper?
When it comes to cayenne pepper, it’s better to go for the raw, firm, fresh chilies that have a bright red or green color with a healthy stem. As powdered cayenne pepper can sometimes be mixed with other herbs, it’s best to buy the peppers instead.
Cayenne pepper can be added to your soups, sauces, dressings, dips or sprinkling it over your meals.
Want to know more?
Like cayenne pepper, turmeric has grown in popularity over the years. It is a well-researched herb that’s known to have great benefits on our health as we age.
Bernstein, Joel E. et al. (1986). Effects of topically applied capsaicin on moderate and severe psoriasis vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 15, Issue 3, 504 – 507
Clark, R., Lee, S. (2016). Anticancer properties of capsaicin against human cancer. Anticancer Research, 36 (3) 837-843
Couroux, Peter R. et al. (2019). Capsaicin Nasal Spray Showed Significant And Rapid Relief In All Nasal Symptoms In Subjects With Non-Allergic Rhinitis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 143, Issue 2, AB63
Maji, A. & Banerji, P. (2016). Phytochemistry and gastrointestinal benefits of the medicinal spice, Capsicum annuum L. (Chilli): a review. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 13(2), pp. 97-122. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2020, from doi:10.1515/jcim-2015-0037
Mori, A., Lehmann, S., O’Kelly, J., et al. (2006). Capsaicin, a Component of Red Peppers, Inhibits the Growth of Androgen-Independent, p53 Mutant Prostate Cancer Cells. Cancer Research (66) (6) 3222-3229; DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-0087