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Powerful Therapeutic Spices in Medicine

Course Number: 549A

Cayenne (C. annuum)

ce549 - Content - Cayenne (C. annuum) - Figure 1

The cayenne pepper, also known as the Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, red hot chili pepper, or in its powdered form, red pepper, is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum, which is related to the bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, and paprika.1

Cayenne peppers get their heat from compounds called capsaicinoids, the most researched being capsaicin, a powerful phytochemical responsible for many heart healthy and anti-cancer properties. Capsaicin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, stimulates metabolism, and may enhance the absorption of nutrients by enlarging the villi-tiny hair-like structures in the small intestine that transport vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream.3 Scientists also believe capsaicin extract may inhibit harmful bacteria in the gut.3 Latest findings also demonstrate a significant reduction in the proliferation of cancer cells in the lungs, pancreas and prostate of mice.4

Adverse reactions to capsaicin may include anti-coagulate properties and worsening of gastrointestinal conditions such as heartburn, ulcers and GERD.4 It is advised that people on medications for hypertension (ACE inhibitors), stomach acid reducers, aspirin or blood-thinning medications and diabetes medications consult with their doctor before using capsaicin for medicinal purposes.

Vibrant color is important in choosing the most flavorful and powerful qualities of dried or fresh peppers. All varieties; ghost, chili, poblano, habanero, jalapeno, are easy to grow at home for greatest bioavailability. Peppers are classic additions to sautéed vegetables, omelets, lentils, and Mexican cuisine.