Category: "Some of the Science"

About Cayanne

February 11th, 2019

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade)
Parts used: mainly fruits, also seeds
Plant Taste: Pungent, hot, spicy
Energetics: hot, acrid

Plant Properties: stimulant, anti-microbial, analgesic, carminative, styptic,
Antioxidant, stimulating diaphoretic, stimulating expectorant, immunostimulant,
Rubefacient, anti-fungal, metabolic stimulant, blood moving

Plant Uses: toothaches, arthritis, fevers, heart disease, poor circulation,
parasites, digestive problems, sore throats, depression, low libido, bleeding,
inflammation, hypertension, hypotension, headaches, neuropathy, shingles,
fungal infections, diabetes, weight loss, menstrual cramps

Plant Preparations: Small amounts are added to tea blends and tincture formulas. It can also be used externally
as a liniment, oil, salve or fomentation. It is frequently used as a spice for culinary dishes.
Capsicum is not a cure all, but you are missing the boat if you are not using it.
-Dr. Douglas Kirkbride
If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than anything else.
-Dr. Richard Shulze

History of cayenne
Cayenne comes from the Capsicum genus that also includes bell peppers, chilies, paprikas and habaneros. This
genus is from the Americas and has been cultivated for use for at least 7,000 years. Some of the early European
explorers brought the seeds from South America back to Europe and they quickly spread around the world.

Capsicums vs. Peppers
Cayenne is often commonly referred to as a pepper, but it is not in the Piper genus (such as black pepper and
kava). The common word “chili” is often used for cayenne and other Capsaicin genus plants. This word is said
to come from the Aztecs.
The etymology of the word Capsicum is believed to have been derived from Greek, meaning “to bite”.

What makes it bite?
Cayenne has a hot and acrid taste. This “bite” is caused by the constituent capsaicin. The more capsaicin a
pepper has the more heat or bite to it. This amount varies greatly between species and varieties.
One method of measuring this bite or heat is the Scoville heat units (SHU). Cayenne has around 30,000 -
50,000 SHU. In contrast bell peppers have 0 and habaneros have more than 100,000.
Evolutionary biology explains that the red fruit of capsicums attracts birds who seemingly love the fruit and
are not affected by the hot taste. They then distribute the seeds. All mammals experience the bite of Capscium
Many scientific studies use capsaicin as a standard isolated extract rather than using the whole cayenne herb.
Some like it hot!
Energetically, cayenne is very intense. For the most part, our food-like herbs are balanced energetically. This
means that their thermal temperature (cold to hot) is somewhere around neutral and their humidity level
(moist to dry) is around neutral. This lets us know that they can be consumed in food-like quantities for long
periods of time with beneficial results.


Let’s take a basic energetic understanding of nettle for instance.
My interpretation of nettle is that it tends to be a bit cooling and a little bit more drying but, in all, it is fairly
close to neutral.

If we drew cayenne in the same way it would look more like this

Compared to stinging nettle, cayenne is considerably more dramatic energetically. It is one of our hottest
plants and is quite dry as well.
The further an herb is to one or the other side of the scale means the more tendency it has to create unwanted
effects. These more intense herbs tend to be our medicinal herbs and they are best consumed in small amounts
and in formulas that help to balance the effects.
Can you imagine eating a bowl of nettle soup? How about a bowl of nettle soup for dinner and for lunch? Yum!
Can you imagine eating a bowl of cayenne soup? That’s the point I am trying to make.
You could probably eat a bowl full of cooked nettles for the rest of your life and only receive good benefits
from it. If you somehow managed to eat a bowl of cayenne peppers one day, you probably couldn’t continue
that practice day after day because pretty soon unwanted effects like an upset tummy and gastric heat would
begin to occur.
Granted, when a lot of peppers are consumed they create an endorphin rush in the body, creating a euphoric
state of mind. Some people build a threshold for this experience and can increasingly eat more and more
However, for the most part, cayenne is used in food and in formulas in very small amounts.
What is an herbal stimulan t?
When you hear the word stimulant it is easy for thoughts of caffeine or methamphetamines to come to mind.
These drug-like constituents are stimulants.
But in the herbal world stimulants have a broader, more energetic meaning. Simply defined, a stimulant is
something that increases the energy output of a system or organ.
Caffeine and meth are nervous system stimulants. They increase the energy output of the nervous system,
leaving the consumer feeling hyped-up or wired.
Exercise can be thought of as a stimulant. Rapid movement increases the energy output of the cardiovascular
system, respiratory system, nervous system, etc.
Cayenne is also a stimulant. It specifically effects the cardiovascular system, mucous membranes and digestion.


People with cold and stagnant digestion have a difficult
time transforming food into nutrients. They are often
experiencing fatigue due to the exhaustive energy being
used to attempt digestion. They are further disadvantaged
because their poor digestion leaves them lacking the
nutrients needed to feel vibrant.
Symptoms of stagnant and cold digestion include:
• bloating
• belching
• sour regurgitation
• nausea
• foul breath
• gas
• lack of appetite
• loose stools
• undigested food in stools
• heartburn
• feeling of coldness in the limbs or in the stomach
• tongue is swollen, wet, with possible heavy white coating
• abdominal pain that is relieved with pressure
Cayenne is a premier herb for warming and stimulating digestion. It can be added to foods, taken as tea or a
capsule (careful not to take too much!) or used in a tincture.

For the heart
Cayenne is a powerful ally for the heart and cardiovascular system. It can regulate cholesterol levels and reduce
platelet aggregation, thus lessening a chance of forming a blood clot.
Cayenne is also packed full of antioxidants. A diet high in antioxidants has been shown to decrease free radical
damage to the arteries and support the healthy functioning of the whole cardiovascular system.

Dr. Christopher famously used cayenne to stop people from having heart attacks. His preferred method of
administration was a hot tea made with one teaspoon of cayenne to one cup of water.
In heart attack, Dr. Christopher always considered cayenne pepper to be a specific. He said he
never lost a case. I have had three cases where the symptoms looked like heart attack and Capsicum
(homeopathic 6x potency) relieved in all cases. This remedy works because it opens the peripheral
capillaries, increases circulation to the periphery and decreases the pressure on the heart from pooling
of blood in the interior.
Matt Wood
Plant Healer Magazine #6

For Pain Relief...
Capsaicin, a major constituent of cayenne peppers, blocks substance P which relays pain sensations in your
body. Cayenne is used topically to relieve many different types of pain, from diabetic neuropathy1, shingles2 ,
migraine headaches, back aches, arthritis, menstrual cramps and other aches and pains.

Tincture of Capsicum is an important topical stimulant, rubefacient and counter-irritant. By its
revulsive action it often relieves local pain. Painted upon chilblains it quickly gives relief.
Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics


For colds and the flu .
Cayenne peppers can help prevent a cold or flu as well as shorten the duration of a cold or flu. They bring heat
to the body, which can help to dispel coldness (in Traditional Chinese Medicine some colds and the flu are
brought on by a cold invasion). Sweating therapies, using saunas or hot baths as well as internal medicines like
cayenne are a long-celebrated way to stop a cold in its tracks.
Cayenne also promotes secretions from the mucous membranes. Mucus is loaded with antibodies and is a
powerful immune system response to an invading pathogen. If the cold or the flu has progressed and the
person has stuffed up sinuses, cayenne peppers will quickly drain them! Moving congested mucus lessens the
possibility of a secondary infection in the sinuses.
Cayenne peppers are high in Vitamin A, which is essential to mucus membrane health. Your mucus membranes
are an important part of your immune system and keeping them healthy helps to prevent infections.
You can treat a cold very effectively with nothing but chilies if you can get enough down.
Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa and Robin Landis
Herbal Defense

To stop bleeding
Ever cut yourself while chopping food in the kitchen?
Next time reach for cayenne powder to quickly and
effectively stop the bleeding. Cayenne’s anti-microbial
properties can also prevent infections.

For digestive ulce rs
Cayenne and other spicy peppers were once blamed for causing ulcers, but now are accepted as a natural
treatment for ulcers. Cayenne supports the health of the lining of the stomach, promotes tissue healing by
bringing blood to the area, and addresses secondary infections like the H. pylori bacterial infection that are
often seen concurrently with ulcers. It also blocks substance P which transmits pain, thus relieving pain
associated with ulcers.

For aging gracefully ...
Cayenne peppers increase our vitality, which is helpful for people with any symptoms of deficiency and
stagnation! Cayenne also increases digestive function, is full of antioxidants and is a strong general antiinflammatory.
It supports a healthy heart and helps to regulate blood sugar levels.

“Capsicum is of value in many functional nervous troubles with debility and repressed secretions, and
for the aged it is one of the few medicines that should be widely heralded for its power to stimulate
and preserve gastric tone and prolong life. In the debility of the young or old, but particularly in old
persons, when the body-heat is low, vitality depressed, and reaction sluggish, it is an agent of power
for good. Tired, painful muscles, stiffened joints, and relaxation of tissue are common conditions in
the elderly that are, in a measure at least, helped by capsicum.”
Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D.
The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology and Therapeutics

For Blood Sugar Control and Weight Loss
Cayenne peppers consumed in even small amounts have been shown to lower blood sugar3. If you are taking
insulin you may need to have your levels adjusted if you consume cayenne regularly.
Cayenne has also been studied extensively for its ability to facilitate weight loss. Scientists hypothesize that
cayenne prolongs satiety, resulting in fewer calories consumed, and increases a person’s internal heat, thus
helping them burn more calories.
Botanically Speaking
Capsicum plants are a small shrub. In tropical environments C. frutescens can be a perennial plant living for a
decade or longer while C. annuum is an annual or biennial. In northern climates they are cultivated as annuals.
They have white flowers with five petals.
The bright red “pepper” is often thought of as a vegetable but is actually the fruit of the plant.

Plant Preparations
The highest amount of capsaicin is located in the lining of the seeds and the membrane from which the seeds
hang. You can decrease the heat of whole cayenne by first removing the seeds.
Cayenne is a great spice for many culinary dishes. If you buy it powdered, buy it in small amounts because it
does lose its zing fairly quickly. I bought a pound of cayenne powder two years ago and am just about to finish
it up. I’ve noticed that I use at least twice the amount I would normally use with a freshly powdered plant.
Cayenne is often added in minute amounts to tincture formulas. It can warm up a formula and, because it
stimulates cardiovascular function, can disperse the herbal medicine more quickly throughout the body.
It can be infused into oils and made into salves for topical treatments of aches and pains. When applying the
oils and salves, be sure to take measures to avoid later touching your cayenne-infused fingers to your eyes. (See
special considerations below).
Samuel Thompson used cayenne in tea blends and it is an ingredient in many composition powder recipes.
Here’s an example of one of those recipes by Harold Ward in his Herbal Manual.
Composition Powder
Bayberry Bark (powdered) 1 ounce
Wild Ginger 1/2 ounce*
Cayenne 1 drachm
A teaspoonful of the mixture to a teacupful of boiling water is taken warm at bed-time to ward off the effects of chill,
and as a general stimulant.
*We now know not to consume wild ginger because of toxicity concerns; substitute store-bought ginger
Cayenne is often infused into vinegar as part of fire cider vinegar.

Some dosage suggestions for cayenne
Always start low and slowly increase the amount to avoid unwanted effects.
• tea: one tsp of powder per cup of water, 2 - 4 teaspoons a day
• tincture: 5 - 15 drops
• powder capsules: 2 - 4 grams a day
• liniment: 1:8 dilution

Special considerations
Cayenne is very irritating to the eyes. If you have contacts or if you are preparing a lot of cayenne peppers
you may want to wear gloves. I’ve heard many stories of people burning their eyes even after many hours after
contact and many hand washings later.
Cayenne is commonly used in pepper spray devices. In the past five years more than 60 deaths have been
attributed to law enforcement use of pepper spray in the United States5.
Cayenne shouldn’t be taken in large amounts during pregnancy. People on warfarin or other blood-thinning
pharmaceuticals should talk to their doctor before using cayenne.

Reading the preceding monograph you would think that cayenne is good for anything under the sun. I didn’t
even mention that cayenne is used on the scalp to stimulate hair growth. That’s right, it does all the above and
addresses hair loss as well!
However, your success with using cayenne is determined by how well you match the herb to the person. Here
are two different quotes from herbal masters on the specific indications of cayenne.
A full and hard pulse does not admit it; though a creeping, wiry, unsteady and very small pulse calls
for it. It is out of place altogether in inflammatory fever or any inflammatory condition; in gastric
irritation, or inflammation, in acute sensitiveness of the throat and lungs, in a hot and burning skin
with a large pulse, and in any and every similar condition. It is as much out of place under such
circumstances as fire would be in July, with the thermometer at 100 degrees”
William Cook, M.D.,
The Physiomedical Dispensatory

Specific indications: Middle aged couch potatoes who reminisce about the past but do not exercise;
red, darkish complexion from capillary stagnation, cool to the touch, as the circulation does not
warm the surface; large, flabby tissues, red and darkish; unequal distribution of the blood with
unequal pulse; feeble rapid pulse with septic, mortifying, putrefactive tendencies.
Matt Wood
Plant Healer Magazine #6

Research on Cayenne
1. Forst T, Pohlmann T, Kunt T, Goitom K, Schulz G, Lobig M, Engelback M, Beyer J, Pfutzner, A.
The influence of local capsaicin treatment on small nerve fibre function and neurovascular control in
symptomatic diabetic neuropathy Acta Diabetologica. 2002; 39:1-6.
2. Yarnell E, Abascal K. Herbs for treating herpes zoster infections Altern Complement Ther. 2005:131-
3. Ahuja K, Robertson K, Geraghty D, Ball M. Effects of chili consumption on postprandial glucose,
insulin, and energy metabolism Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(1):63-69.
4. Yarnell E, Abascal K. Botanical medicines for headache Altern Comp Ther. June 2007:148-152.
5. Pinsky, Mark I. Deaths Prompt Concern On Use of Pepper Spray Austin American Statesman. June
19, 1995:A1, A8.