Nov 30, 2012

Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum annuum)

      The familiar hot chile pepper, cayenne has a host of medicinal uses. Although usually considered a circulatory and digestive stimulant, cayenne has respiratory benefits as well. In addition to having a tonic and warming effect on the entire body, cayenne has expectorant properties and helps relieve winter colds, congestion and inflammation.

      Because it combines well with other herbs, cayenne makes an effective catalyst that enhances its companions' medicinal properties. The most comfortable way to take cayenne pepper is in capsules. For best results, take cayenne capsules with plenty of food and water. The first few times you do so, you may experience a burning sensation in the chest or stomach. To avoid this, take peppermint tea at the same time, eat an apple, drink apple juice or simply take cayenne pepper more often.
     The cayenne capsules sold in health food stores are of low to medium heat strength, so they are safe for most people to take several times daily. Adventurous herbalists experiment with their own blends of Scotch bonnets, Thai chiles, African birdseye and other really hot peppers in capsules. For an excellent and entertaining book about the adventures of one man who credits cayenne pepper with saving his life, read Left for Dead by Dick Quinn.