Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum) is a powerful, spicy little pepper that offers numerous health benefits.
It is a member of the Capsicum family of vegetables, popularly called chili peppers.
The cayenne pepper originates from Cayenne, French Guiana off South America’s northeast coast but it has been used as for culinary and medicinal purposes all around the world for centuries.
Popularly called ‘Shombo‘ in Nigeria, it is a thin pepper that is green to red in colour.
It is usually dried and ground into a fine powder. It can also be used fresh and is a great spice for seasoning.
Fresh and ground cayenne pepper can be used for stews, soups, salads, tea, lemonade, egg dishes, pizza, etc.
Here are some of its benefits.
1. Helps relieve pain
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, has been shown to have pain-relieving properties.
Capsaicin can help to alleviate muscle and joint pain by reducing the amount of a neuropeptide known as substance P that travels to the brain to signal pain.
2. Treats skin issues like Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes itchy, scaly, red patches on the skin. While there is currently no cure, topical capsaicin creams can help to reduce itching and improve the skin’s appearance.
3. Aids weight loss
Capsaicin increases the amount of heat that your body produces, boosting your metabolism and causing you to burn more calories. It’s also somewhat effective in reducing hunger, causing you to eat less throughout the day.
4. Reduces the risk of cancer
5. Aids digestion
Cayenne pepper helps produce saliva, which is important for excellent digestion as well as preventing bad breath.
Cayenne pepper also stimulates the flow of enzyme production, which is essential for our digestive system to work properly. It also stimulates gastric juices that aid the body’s ability to metabolize food and toxins.
6. Boost immunity
Cayenne pepper is known for its immune-boosting power as it contains antioxidants like beta carotene that help fight free radicals and infections.
Its high vitamin A levels also help boost immune function.
7. Relieves symptoms of cold and flu
Capsaicin in cayenne pepper may relieve symptoms such as sneezing, a stuffy nose, or nasal congestion. It is known to help clear your nasal passage if you have a cold or flu. Just sprinkle a dash of cayenne in your tea and you would get relief.
8. Supports heart health
9. Lowers asthma risk
Studies show that beta-carotene in cayenne pepper will help decrease the signs of respiratory disease like asthma.
10. Promotes cardiovascular health
Cayenne pepper promotes cardiovascular health, specifically by supporting healthy blood vessels and normal blood consistency. When both of these variables are normal and in check, the risk of serious cardiac episodes is greatly reduced.
NB: Cayenne may interfere with some medicines like aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen so it’s advisable to consult your doctor especially with cayenne supplements.
Also, excessive intake of cayenne pepper can irritate the lining of the stomach so if you have an ulcer, consume it with caution.