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Cayenne Pepper (Health)

posted by Bunkster(R), 08.20.2008

Cayennes medicinal and culinary applications date back as far as 9,000 years with Native Americans. The hot spice was widely used in the Americas by the time Columbus arrived. He took it to Europe where it quickly grew in popularity. Cayenne was incorporated as an important part of traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Ayurvedic medicines. Taken orally, it was believed to help restore a poor appetite, heal digestive problems, and support circulatory problems. A topical cream was applied to provide relief from arthritis pain.

Cayennes benefits are derived from the active ingredient capsaicin. Capsaicin gives cayenne its heat. It helps relieve pain, both when applied topically and taken internally, and can help reduce blood platelet thickness.

Today Cayenne is still used in much the same manner as it has been for centuries. Researchers have identified several main benefits that may accompany taking cayenne internally. Cayenne is believed to help soothe the digestive track. Capsaicin causes saliva and stomach secretions to increase which helps food digest. The body uses capsaicin to increase production of hydrochloric acid which is necessary for good digestion. With better digestion of food, the body is able to assimilate nutrients better also.

Many individuals use cayenne to support circulatory health. Cayenne appears to reduce platelet thickness making them less sticky. This may reduce the risk of heart attacks and other blood clots. Cayenne may also have a positive effect on cholesterol. Studies show cayenne contributes to lower blood pressure.

Cayenne holds promise of other benefits which are still being explored. Early indications point to its ability to boost energy as well as lower stress-related fatigue and depression. A study published in the late 1990s in a British journal indicates Cayenne may help boost metabolism while suppressing appetite.

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