Cayenne Pepper

Capsicum minimum or Capsicum frutescans, Solanaceae. The pods (fruit) are the part of the plant used.

The pods are picked when they are fully ripe and are dried in the shade.

Functions of cayenne pepper

Cayenne is a powerful systemic stimulant. It:

  • regulates blood flow, strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and veins.
  • reduces the tendency to blood clots and lowers cholesterol.
  • is a warming remedy for those prone to cold hands and feet and for warding off winter blues, lethargy and chills.
  • causes sweating and enhances the body's fight against infection, if taken hot at the onset of a cold or fever. It has bactericidal properties and is also rich in vitamin C. The body's temperature is lowered by desensitization of the warmth detectors in the hypothalamus gland.
  • makes an excellent remedy for the lungs as its pungency increases the secretion of fluid in the bronchial tubes, thinning phlegm and easing its expulsion. It keeps the airways clear, thus aiding in the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
  • improves appetite and promotes the secretion of digestive juices and enhances digestion and absorption. It can be added to cooking to assist poor digestion that leads to wind, nausea and indigestion and symptoms, such as diarrhea and abdominal pain. It warms the digestive tract and assist in the removal of toxins.
  • contains the compound capsaicin which when used externally on the site of pain, such as in lumbago and rheumatic pains, blocks the transmission of the pain signal to the brain.

Notes on cayenne pepper

  • Avoid cayenne if you are prone to overheating or acidity of the stomach.
  • Always handle the peppers with care. Wear gloves or at least wash your hands carefully after preparation.
  • Never touch your eyes or any other sensitive part. Don't touch children or place on broken skin.
  • Cayenne pepper speeds up the body's metabolism. It appears to 'reset' an individuals 'fat thermostat' causing the body to burn more fat through chemical combustion instead of storing it in muscle tissue.
  • It contains more vitamin C per unit weight than citrus fruit.

Dosages

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1/2 - 1 teaspoonful of cayenne and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. A teaspoonful of infusion should be mixed with hot water and drunk when needed.

Tincture: take 0.25 - 1 ml of the tincture three times per day or when needed.

For the gardener

Sow the seeds indoors 6 - 8 weeks before the projected last frost. They need light to germinate so only just press them into the seed raising mix. You should have the seedlings in 3 weeks.

Transplant the seedling outdoors when the soil temperature has risen sufficiently (about 70 degrees F) and the danger of the last frost has past. Plant them 12 inches or 30 cm apart in a rich sandy loam. They prefer full sun but will tolerate a little shade.

When harvesting or cutting the pods be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands before placing your hands near your mouth or eyes. The fiery compounds in the peppers have a real sting. String the peppers and hang them in a warm dry place for several weeks. Once they are dry you can grind them into a powder (you can use a coffee grinder) but be careful not to inhale the powder.

References

Duke, J. A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

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