Cayenne

Native Americans have used cayenne (Capsicum annuum, frutescens, or red pepper) as both food and medicine for at least 9,000 years. The hot and spicy taste of cayenne pepper is mostly due to a substance known as capsaicin, which helps reduce pain.

Cayenne pepper is an important spice, particularly in Cajun and Creole cooking, and in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, China, Southern Italy, and Mexico. Cayenne has also been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean medicines as an oral remedy for stomach problems, poor appetite, and circulatory problems. It has also been applied to the skin for arthritis and muscle pain.

Today, ointments and creams with capsaicin are used in the United States and Europe to relieve pain from arthritis and shingles (Herpes zoster). Capsaicin is also a key ingredient in many pepper sprays.

Pain relief

Capsaicin has powerful pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin. It reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain, in your body. When there is less substance P, the pain messages no longer reach the brain, and you feel relief. Capsaicin is often recommended for the following conditions:

Psoriasis

Capsaicin cream can reduce itching and inflammation from psoriasis, a long-lasting skin disease that generally appears as patches of raised, red skin covered by a flaky white buildup.

Weight loss

A few studies suggest that cayenne supplements may help suppress appetite and help people feel full. But not all studies agree, and many have looked at cayenne or capsaicin combined with other ingredients, making it impossible to tell whether capsaicin itself was responsible for any weight loss. More studies are needed.

Other uses

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Low back pain Osteoarthritis Otitis media Peptic ulcer Psoriasis Rheumatoid arthritis

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Review Date: 6/22/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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