06/27/2016 / By Vicki Batts
Cayenne pepper is a hot chili pepper that is native to southern North America and northern South America. This pepper, belonging to the Capsicum annuum species, is often used to add spice and flavor to a variety of dishes across the world. It is popular in Cajun and Creole cuisine, as well as in Southeast Asian, Chinese, Southern Italian and Mexican fare. Dried cayenne is even added to things like cakes and chocolates!
In addition to a variety of culinary uses, cayenne is also highly regarded for its medicinal properties. Native Americans have been using cayenne to treat a number of conditions for thousands of years, and now modern science is finally recognizing its amazing healing properties. Cayenne has been studied extensively and scientists are learning more about its amazing health benefits.
Capsaicin is one of the prominent compounds in cayenne peppers. Despite being odorless and essentially tasteless, capsaicin is responsible for giving all chili peppers their characteristic spiciness. In addition to bringing the heat, capsaicin is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that is proven to have analgesic, or pain-relieving, benefits. One study — published in The Clinical Journal of Pain — found that capsaicin was effective at relieving cluster headaches, for example. Another study featured in Clinical Therapeutics found that capsaicin cream provided significant relief from arthritis pain when compared to a placebo. Based on their data, the researchers of that study concluded that capsaicin cream was an effective treatment for arthritis. Capsaicin cream has also been used to treat itching and inflammation in psoriasis, a chronic skin condition.
The Medical Association of Thailand also recently featured research boasting the benefits of capsaicin, but for a different reason. Scientists found that women who consumed just 5 grams of Capsicum frutescens, also part of Capsicum annuum species, mixed into a glucose-rich drink experienced a significantly lower rise in blood sugar levels after consumption as compared to a control group. They also exhibited significantly higher metabolic rates compared to the control group. Capsaicin is also a vasodilator, meaning that it helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels. This can help to lower blood pressure, reduce arterial plaque formation and decrease heart disease risks. Cayenne peppers are also rich in vitamin A, which is imperative for boosting immunity and vision. Cayenne peppers are especially rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which are also potent antioxidant compounds.
Cayenne peppers are a spicy treat loaded with health benefits.