Botanical: Capsicum annuum

Family: Solanaceae

parts Used: fruit

energetics: warming

actions: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, rubefacient, stimulant, tonic

uses: Used to improve blood flow to extremities, for psoriasis, arthritis, and headache, to relieve gas and colic, stimulate digestion, and address vata and kapha disorders. Used externally to increase blood flow and as mild analgesic.

Cayenne or Capsicum derives its name from the Greek, ‘to bite,’ in allusion to the hot pungent properties of the fruits and seeds. [1]

Chili peppers are of great importance in Native American medicine. Capsaicin is also used in modern medicine to stimulate blood circulation or to relieve pain mainly in topical medications. An aerosol preparation, pepper spray, is used by law enforcement or by individuals for personal defense. Capsaicin is also used as a natural insecticide in organic pesticide sprays.

Uses for Cayenne

Culinary Uses of Cayenne

Wow, one could devote an entire page to the use of cayenne as a culinary spice. Powdered cayenne pepper can be sprinkled on just about anything. The only limits are your taste buds. Capsicum fruits and peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Those used in cooking are generally varieties of the C. annum and C. frutescens species, though a few others are used as well. They are suitable for stuffing with fillings such as cheese, meat or rice.

They are also frequently used chopped and raw in salads or cooked in stir-fries. They can be sliced into strips and fried, roasted whole or in pieces or chopped and mixed into salsas.

  • Many enjoy it on their scrambled eggs.
  • In Mexico this spice is very popular and they even have cayenne flavored ice cream!
  • The most common use of cayenne peppers is in sauces.
  • Of course, what is chili without a little cayenne?

Remember to remove the white seeds from inside the cayenne, that will dispel some of the heat. You can dry them out, plant them, and grow your own organic cayenne plants.

Cosmetic Uses of Cayenne

Cayenne is also good for boosting blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. This helps in removing impurities and toxins from under the skin’s surface. It is these toxic impurities that manifest on the skin in the form of acne, pimples and blemishes. Moreover, increase in blood circulation helps in bringing about an instant glow to the skin.

You can prepare your own face mask by combining milk with honey. Add a little powdered ginger root and a pinch of cayenne. Apply this mask evenly to clean face and neck. This pack will help in drawing out toxins from the skin while also helping in deeper penetration of nutrients. But make sure that you do not use this mask on broken, damaged or irritated skin. Also, do a spot test before applying the mask. And, of course, do not get tempted to add anything more than a small pinch of cayenne!

Applying the cayenne face mask regularly will help in keeping skin youthful and rejuvenated. It might also help in fading brown spots and blemishes. [2]

Using Cayenne for Wellness

“If laughter is the best medicine, then perhaps Capsicum is the second best.”
– Glenn J.N. Reschke

Note: More information on how to use cayenne can be found at Cayenne Tips & Tricks. [3]

freshly ground cayenne pepper from BushyHead Botanicals
freshly ground cayenne pepper from BushyHead Botanicals

How:  tea, powder, capsules, oil, food, minor wounds

How much: Start off with one eighth or less of a teaspoon a few times a day until you and your system are used to it. Increase to one teaspoon divided over 2 to 3 doses daily. Some sources recommend one teaspoon three times a daily to address specific health issues as a short term method. As with any herb or spice for health purposes, please purchase organic cayenne pepper from a reliable source.

Tea: Start with a quarter of a teaspoon (or less) in a small amount of warm water (a quarter to half a cup) and use a straw to get it down quickly. The straw does help bypass much of the mouth. If you prefer, you can add more warm water – it does not have to be hot – and sip it as a tea.  Eventually, try to work up to a half a teaspoon daily. If you have a few issues such as a headache, high blood pressure, a cold coming on or even hemorrhoids increase to a few times daily.

If it is too much heat for you, after ingesting, hold a small amount of yogurt or milk in your mouth. Almost instant relief.

Capsules: If you want an instant effect taking it orally in liquid form is the best way as its action begins to enter the body through the membrane of the mouth. Capsules may dissolve in the stomach or later in the intestine. This is not a recommended way to take cayenne as it will not be evenly distributed and absorbed a little at a time.

Oil: Some people find that buying (or making) cayenne oil and taking it dropper wise is easier for them. Others carry a small dropper bottle with them in case of emergency such as heart attack. or even emergency care for wounds as it staunches the blood.

Salve: For some, a preferred preparation to the oil for ease of use. Mix 5 parts infused cayenne oil to 1 part beeswax to make a soft salve, (1:4 beeswax to oil to make it softer). Apply liberally and consistently for best effect.

Why? Cayenne works on your nervous system. Capsaicin causes nerve endings to release a chemical known as substance P. Substance P is a neurotransmitter which relays pain in your body. When the nerve endings have lost all of their substance P, no pain signals can be transmitted to the brain until the nerve endings accumulate more substance P…. so you still “have the pain” your neurotransmitters can’t alert the brain to alert YOU… you just doesn’t don’t “feel” it because your brain is not telling you it’s there.

It can take “a minute” to work on the substance P… the capsicum has to make the nerve endings use up their substance P. Consistency in use makes all the difference.

Wounds: For minor wounds and follow up care, use the powder straight into the wound – it is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It will staunch the blood flow. I have done this a few times when in the kitchen. I simply rinse the wound under running water, dry as best as possible with a paper towel and sprinkle a thick layer of cayenne. It stings a bit but is tolerable. Press another clean paper towel over the wound for a few seconds and you will see the bleeding will stop after a few seconds. Tap out a little of the now blood soaked cayenne and sprinkle in another good amount. Bandaid/plaster over it and done. Repeat a few times; a day. You will see it will heal faster and leave nearly no scar. Take a bottle with you on camping or any outdoor activity.

Food: Usually, the least effective way to take cayenne. Why? Because most people will not be ingesting the recommended amount daily for therapeutic purposes with normal cooking – unless you add your dose per meal.

If you are interested in taking cayenne for lowering blood pressure, studies have shown that once cayenne is taken regularly even if just for a week, that cutting back to a few 1/4 tsp. doses twice a day for 3-4 days a week has long term effectiveness. I can attest to this as this is what I experienced. I had tried other herbal extracts without the quick and enduring help of cayenne.

Tip: Handle any hot pepper with gloves. Be sure to wash the cutting board well. Milk contains 80% of the protein casein, a fat attracting lipophilic substance which effectively dissolves and carries away the capsaicin which will alleviate the heat whereas water will spread it, intensifying the effect. It is a very big mistake to drink water if you have ingested something that is hotter than you can handle. Instead, hold milk or yogurt in your mouth for instant relief. If you get any in your eyes, likewise, rinse with milk or use a yogurt compress. The same holds true for skin irritation from capsaicin.

Be sure to purchase your herb and spices from non-irradiated, organic and reliable sources for the full health benefit. Grocery store herbs are good enough for seasoning but most likely have been radiated.

According to Medical News Today:

Capsaicin, the active ingredient found in cayenne peppers, may have pain-relieving properties.

One review of research into cayenne pepper’s ability to reduce pain, concluded that it may have benefits as a long-term analgesia, without bringing about other sensory changes.

Capsaicin has also been shown to reduce the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. With less substance P, fewer pain messages reach the brain, and less pain is felt.

Creams or ointments containing 0.025-0.075 percent purified capsaicin have been shown in several double-blind studies to reduce the pain and tenderness caused by osteoarthritis. The suggested use for chronic pain is to apply the topical cream or ointment four times daily to the site of pain. However, there are reports of side effects.

Animal studies have also shown a decrease in pain when taking capsaicin orally or by injection.

Capsaicin is currently used in topical ointments and creams to relieve pain and tenderness from osteoarthritis, nerve pain from shingles, pain after surgery, pain from diabetic neuropathy, and lower back pain.


  • Never give cayenne to children below 2 years of age, and be careful when handling it around them.
  • If you are on heart medications, like ACE inhibitors, talk to your health practitioner before taking red pepper. Similar caution goes out to people on antacids, and blood thinners.
  • If you are allergic to latex, nuts, kiwis, avocado, or banana you may also be allergic to cayenne.
  • Dust can irritate eyes. Always choose organic, as peppers are frequently doused with pesticides.

Therapeutic doses of most any herbal preparation is seldom intended for long term use and were never intended to be used in that way. Obviously, long term chemical ‘solutions’ also have negative effects. Many herbalists and Naturopathic practitioners recommend taking breaks of a few weeks from any long term herb use. However, some people eventually ease themselves off of pharmaceuticals and are happy with the results using natural methods and just as importantly, a healthier lifestyle. Your health practitioner (and you really should read their interpretation of that (health practitioner) and their disclaimer here) should be consulted. They put it beautifully. [4]

“The famous herbalist Samuel Thompson used two herbs mainly, cayenne & lobelia.
And with those two herbs, it is estimated he helped 3.5 million people recover from their illnesses.”
– Dick Shulze, N.D. M.H.

cayenne peppers - green and red"
cayennes maturing on the plant[


  • “A Modern Herbal” by Maud Grieve, originally published in 1931.
  • Cayenne Pepper