Most people think of cayenne as a spice, which it is, but it’s good for much more than seasoning food. Cayenne has medicinal properties that can be used for health and wellness.

Let’s start with a little background of the plant. Cayenne was given to Columbus by Caribbean Indians. From there it became popular worldwide.

Although it’s also called ‘red pepper’, the pods it is made from can be red, orange, or yellow when ripe. You can eat them raw or cooked, but they’re often dried and ground into the spicy powder most of us are familiar with.

The ingredient that makes cayenne hot is called ‘capsaicin’. Although cayenne tastes hot, it actually lowers body temperature – one reason it’s so popular in hot climates.

From a nutritional standpoint, cayenne has virtually no calories and contains vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin K.

The capsaicin in cayenne contributes to its many other uses. Over the years research studies have shown cayenne to be helpful in the following ways, now here are health benefits of cayenne pepper:

Lowering Glucose

It is believed capsaicin can help in diabetes management by lowering blood sugar levels.

Heart Health

Cayenne may rid your arteries of the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol thus reducing your chances of heart attack, stroke, and hypertension.

Arthritis Pain Relief

Cayenne increases blood flow — circulation. Soak peppers in olive oil then rub the oil on arthritic joints. Of course you can also buy over-the-counter creams containing capsaicin, but the ones you make yourself may be gentler on your skin.

Digestion

Cayenne is a great digestion aid. If you tend to have gas or bloat, try adding some to your meals.

Weight Loss

Cayenne is thermogenic, meaning it produces heat through metabolic stimulation, so feel free to add it to your weight loss plan. You may also find that you’re not as hungry – another effect of cayenne.

There are several ways you can incorporate cayenne into your diet.

    • Use powdered cayenne as a substitute for salt.
    • Dice fresh peppers into a stir fry.
    • Add fresh peppers to soups and stews.

Don’t forget that you should wear food-grade gloves if you’re going to be handling peppers. They can irritate skin and the mucous membranes of the eyes or nose. If you do get it on your hands, wash them in milk or vinegar.

Remember that you don’t have to ingest cayenne to benefit from it. Use cayenne to make rubs, infused oils, or salves to relieve the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis or fibromyalgia. You can make use of it as a spice, herbal extract, or in capsules.

Don’t be afraid of cayenne’s heat – a little goes a long way so even people who don’t tolerate spicy foods can make use of it in small amounts.