What Cayenne Pepper Does to Your Body?

Medically Reviewed on 12/8/2020

Cayenne pepper effects

Cayenne has been in use for medicinal purposes for centuries.
Cayenne has been in use for medicinal purposes for centuries.

Cayenne has been in use for medicinal purposes for centuries. It has been used both as a culinary spice and a food preservative and has added health benefits.

Benefits of cayenne pepper:

  • Capsaicin, derived from the peppers, is believed to be effective on various forms of rhinitis by reducing nasal hypersensitivity response to various allergens. In a study conducted on 42 patients with allergic and nonallergic rhinitis, an intranasal solution of capsaicin and eucalyptol (added to reduce the burning sensation that some patients experience with capsaicin) was used two times a day for 15 days, and this was compared with placebo (no drug). There was a statistical improvement in nasal congestion, sinus pain and pressure, and headache.
  • Antioxidant: Cayenne pepper contains large amounts of vitamin A, which helps in maintaining good health, healthy skin, and proper brain function. Vitamin A fights swelling caused by free radicals and is vital for good health. Cayenne pepper also contains vitamin E, which is another super antioxidant that slows the aging process and keeps bodily organs healthy. Vitamin E plays a significant role in balancing hormones, repairing damaged skin, and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Allergy prevention: High doses of beta carotene, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory capabilities in cayenne pepper can prevent allergies by breaking up and eliminating mucus caused by congestion. With its high vitamin C content, cayenne pepper also provides protection against the common cold.
  • Weight loss: It is a metabolism booster. This means that regular intake in small amounts helps to burn more calories. It also eases inflammation from allergies and food sensitivities that cause bloating and digestive problems. A study showed that people who ate a breakfast containing capsaicin burned 51% more calories in the hours after breakfast than those who didn’t consume it. Another study showed that people taking capsaicin supplements ate 10% less during the day because they felt fuller for longer and thus ate fewer calories. It is also thought that capsaicin reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, although this has yet to be confirmed. 
  • Blood pressure: As per researchers, capsaicin in cayenne pepper could reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) by relaxing the blood vessels.
  • Cancer: Some studies have reported that cayenne pepper may help the body cells fight many types of cancer, including prostate, melanoma, and pancreatic cancer. This however needs more evidence.
  • Heart attacks: Cayenne may help prevent myocardial infarction (heart attacks) by promoting blood flowing effectively through the circulatory system. It has a mild blood-thinning action, which may be helpful in people with cholesterol problems. However, it is not a replacement for your blood thinners and cholesterol medications.
  • Nerve and joint pain: Cayenne powder applied locally reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that sends pain signals to the brain. Reduction or removal of this chemical stops pain signals from reaching the brain and relieves pain. Studies show that cayenne pepper can relieve pain from rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain from fibromyalgia, migraines, diabetic neuropathy in the legs and feet, injuries to the lower back, and osteoarthritis.
  • Digestive system: Cayenne pepper aids the digestive system to work efficiently by inhibiting enzyme production. Researchers have proven that capsaicin stimulates alkali and mucous secretions, preventing and curing gastric ulcers. Capsaicin in cayenne pepper also stimulates the salivary glands to produce saliva, which aids digestion and keeps bad breath at bay.
  • Psoriasis: Using cayenne pepper cream as a topical agent may help treat moderate and severe psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that presents itself as inflamed, scaly patches on the skin caused when the skin cells replicate too rapidly.
  • Anti-fungal properties: CAY-1 is a substance found in cayenne pepper. It is known to attack the cell walls of the fungus. This property may help to fight against fungal infections of the skin and mucous membrane (the inner lining of the mouth and gut).

Side effects:

  • Cayenne pepper may interfere with some medicines. It is advisable to consult your doctor before taking cayenne supplements. Cayenne may interfere with blood-thinning medicines such as warfarin, aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen. For this reason, doctors usually recommend their patients to stop taking cayenne pepper in any form at least two weeks before and two weeks after the surgery.
  • Theophylline is a bronchodilator that treats asthma and other lung conditions, and capsicum annum found in cayenne pepper can increase the amount of theophylline the body can absorb. If you are taking theophylline, speak to your physician before adding cayenne pepper or foods containing capsicum annum to your diet.
  • Excessive amounts of cayenne pepper can irritate the inner lining of the stomach causing gastritis and even stomach ulcers. Therefore, people with ulcers are advised to limit consumption. 
  • When taken as a supplement while pregnant, cayenne pepper can lead to heartburn or vomiting. Existing acid reflux can worsen as well. Breastfeeding mothers are also advised against taking cayenne pepper supplements because these can have an effect on the infant.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/8/2020
References
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-cayenne-pepper#1

Cayenne: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Cayenne

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-cayenne-pepper#1

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12627807/

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/complementary-and-alternative-therapies-for-allergic-rhinitis-and-conjunctivitis?sectionName=Capsaicin%20(Capsicum%20annum)&search=cayenne%20pepper&topicRef=1392&anchor=H1144540401&source=see_link#H1144540401