Many people use cayenne pepper to add a little spice into their lives, sprinkling it gingerly or generously onto their favorite exotic dish to add some heat and earthy flavor. But the benefits of cayenne pepper don’t just stop at flavor and spice — ancient civilizations have recognized its health-giving abilities for thousands of years, but the alternative health world is only just waking up to the benefits it can bring into our lives.
A powerful substance with a wide range of therapeutic uses, cayenne pepper is slowly but surely whipping up a health-storm for its ability to cleanse, detoxify, balance and improve circulation, among a host of other things. It can be consumed or applied topically, and for these reasons it is now once again being utilized to treat a broad spectrum of ailments and conditions, including toothache, alcoholism, malaria, shingles, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Here are 6 reasons why cayenne pepper should take a prominent position inside your household medicine cabinet.
- Cayenne pepper relieves headaches
Scientists believe that the intense heat created by consumption of cayenne and it’s active ingredient, capsaicin, can create a distraction for the brain and in this way take the brain’s attention away from migraine headaches. For this reason, when you eat or supplement with cayenne pepper, it can cause the brain to focus all its energy on the nerve fibers surrounding the cayenne (presumably in your stomach or digestive system). This means that your head gets a welcome reprieve, and your migraine dissipates.
- Cayenne pepper reduces joint pain
The same mechanism by which cayenne relieves pain in your head also works on other areas of your body, particularly joints where inflammation and friction between damaged membranes is causing localized pain. The capsaicin contained in cayenne pepper does this by overloading the brain’s pain receptors and thereby reducing the amount of substance P, a compound that carries pain messages back to the brain. Less substance P means less joint pain.
While supplementing with cayenne pepper or capsaicin can help to alleviate joint pain and any other aches you might be suffering from, the best way to banish localized pain is to find a topical cream which has the active ingredient capsaicin. Rubbing this cream onto the affected area can allow the capsaicin to work directly on that region and quickly reduce the amount of substance P being produced there. Just make sure you give your hands a darn good wash afterward.
- Cayenne pepper fights seasonal sickness
Feel a cold or flu coming on, or surrounded by sick people at the office or at home? Cayenne pepper can help with that! This powerful spice is packed full of beta-carotene and antioxidants that bolster your immune system and help defend against bacterial and viral attack. If you’ve already succumbed to the seasonal plague, cayenne pepper can help relieve congestion by breaking up the great globs of mucus riddling your air passages, and it also raises your body temperature, which means bad news for any pathogenic invaders. Finally, cayenne seals the deal by providing a hit of vitamin C, which is a cold or flu’s worst enemy.
- Cayenne pepper helps you digest food more efficiently
We could all do with a more efficient digestive system, and cayenne pepper provides the means by which this can happen. This sassy spice increases saliva production, which promotes healthy digestion and also helps to keep bad breath to a minimum. Not only this, cayenne gets your digestive enzymes energized and ready to go, meaning your stomach is ready to receive and more efficiently break down the food you eat.
- Cayenne pepper prevents allergies
Allergies are simply inflammatory responses to certain environmental inputs into our body. Because cayenne pepper is a potent anti-inflammatory spice, it can help to prevent or minimize foodborne or seasonal allergies.
- Cayenne pepper is an antifungal
Generally speaking, fungus means bad news for our bodies and health. Exposure to certain strains of fungus can allow them to enter our bodies and take up residence in certain regions, most notably an unbalanced gut biome. Luckily, the capsaicin contained in cayenne pepper has the ability to kill fungal invasions and prevent their formation in the future.
One study found that cayenne pepper was effective against 16 different fungal strains, including the highly problematic Candida albicans, while another found that capsaicin, in synergy with a certain Lactobacillus strain, stopped the growth of two kinds of fungi and reduced their biomass by over 50 percent. That’s some potent stuff you’re sprinkling on your curry.
Want to really step things up a notch? Try combining two of the most powerful weapons nature has to offer — lemon and cayenne — in a glass of water and you’ve got yourself a seriously potent health elixir.