Cayenne - Capsicum Annuum & Frutescens

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This Cayenne (Capsicum annuum & frutescens) monograph is an excerpt from the first edition of Dr. Sharol's book "Herbal Medicine From The Heart of The Earth." You can purchase the 2020, third edition of this book with an expanded materia medica/monograph section, herbal formulas and directions on making herbal products in Dr. Sharol's Book Store. You receive free shipping in the USA.

Cayenne - Capsicum annuum & frutescens in the Solanaceae or Nightshade family

Parts used: Fresh or dry pods with seeds.

Taste/smell: Pungent, sweet, hot.

Tendencies: Heating and drying.

Dosage: 1:1 fresh liquid extract:1-5 drops 1-4 times per day in a little water. Cayenne can be used orally, as a fomentation or wash, depending on the need, and it can be added to fixed oils, such as olive oil, for a method of external application.

Mental picture and specific indications: The mental picture of cayenne is cold, flabby, sluggish individuals, with jerking, aching muscles and stagnation in the cardiovascular system. There is exhausted vitality, especially exhaustion from mental work and poor living. The symptoms become better with heat and when eating, worse in open air and breeze.

Use: (a) Antiseptic, (b) Topical vasodilator, (c) Neural stimulant and depressant, (d) Stimulates circulation, (e) Stimulates appetite, in small doses, (f) Gargle for sore throats, (g) Diaphoretic for the first stages of a cold when the skin is hot and dry, (h) External liniment in arthritis.

Although external treatment with cayenne can cause a dose-related inflammation, chronic treatment, in small frequent doses for a cumulative reaction, causes an anti-inflammatory response.

Capsaicin, a constituent in Cayenne, causes the sensory neurons to release substance P, the pain messenger to the nervous system. After constant firing of these neurons, substance P is eventually depleted and the pain is diminished. Capsaicin has been effective for dialysis-induced itching, diabetic neuropathy, trigeminal and post-herpetic neuralgia and arthritis. Cluster headaches can be eased by applying a .025% to .075% capsaicin cream, administered via intranasal application on the affected side and reapplied in 5 minutes. Capsaicin needs to be applied a minimum of 3-4 times a day to deplete substance P. Side effects with topical use of Capsaicin or whole Capsicum are burning, stinging and redness. These reactions usually disappear with repeated application within 72 hours or less. I have used cayenne salve topically and seen the same results as produced by the capsaicin extract. Many species of capsicum can be used.

Cayenne can increase fibrinolysis when taken orally and research has shown capsaicin inhibits platelet aggregation. It is therefore beneficial for atherosclerosis and individuals prone to blood clots.

Cayenne has a protective effect on the tracheobronchial system. Capsaicin pretreatment can reduce vascular permeability and edema caused by histamine, bradykinin and cigarette smoke. It can also decrease bronchospasm and pulmonary airflow obstruction induced by aerosol histamine. Capsaicin given short-term and long-term, as a pretreatment can activate antioxidant enzyme systems and stabilize lung membrane lipids. This protects against edema and lipid peroxidation caused by gaseous lung irritants. Capsaicin has been shown to inhibit the growth of the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori which is associated with gastric ulcers. Cayenne contains capsanthine, capsaicin and is high in vitamin C.

Contraindications: External use is contraindicated in areas where the skin is broken. Use with caution during pregnancy. Co-administration of cayenne and theophylline may increase the theophylline levels. 30 Capsaicin may cause or exacerbate coughing associated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. 412 Keep out of sensitive mucous membranes and do not inhale vapors from this plant. Diabetics who use Cayenne or capsaicin externally may find decreased rate of neuron regeneration after use.

If you are looking for directions on making teas or tinctures, please see our "Making Herbal Products" page.

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Copyright 1999 by Sharol Tilgner, N.D. (ISBN 1-881517-02-0) - all rights reserved.

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