Cayenne pepper facts and health benefits

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Cayenne pepper Quick Facts
Name: Cayenne pepper
Scientific Name: Capsicum frutescens
Origin Southern USA, Mexico to northern and eastern South America.
Colors Green when young to mostly red or orange when mature
Shapes Berry, pungent, ellipsoid-conical to lanceoloid or fusiform, 10–20 mm long, 3–7 mm in diameter
Taste Strong spicy taste
Calories 318 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin A (297.29%)
Vitamin E (198.87%)
Vitamin B6 (188.46%)
Iron (97.50%)
Manganese (86.96%)
Health benefits Helps Digestion, Avoid Congestion, Prevents Allergies , Prevents Blood Clots, Supports Weight Loss, Provides Detox Support, Anti-Fungal Properties, Heart Disease, Relieves Joint and Nerve Pain, Treats Psoriasis
More facts about Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper (Capsicum frutescens) also known as cow-horn pepper, Bird’s-Eye Chili, Bird’s-Eye Pepper, aleva,  Bird Pepper, Cayenne, Chile De Cera, Goat Pepper and Guinea Pepper is a member of Capsicum genus and nightshade family (Solanaceae). Cayenne pepper is considered to have originated from southern USA, Mexico to northern and eastern South America. The name “cayenne” comes from the town where these peppers originated, in French Guiana off the northeast coast of South America. It is also said that Christopher Columbus discovered these spicy little guys while he was traipsing around the Caribbean, and brought them with him when he traveled back to Europe as a replacement for the then-expensive black pepper. It is used in cooking spicy dishes, as a powder or in its whole form or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is usually rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units. Fiercely hot and pungent cayenne pepper is one of the widely used spicy ingredients in many cuisines.


Cayenne pepper is a small, branched, mostly erect, annual or short-lived perennial sub-shrub, growing up to 0.5–1 m (20–39 in) tall. Normally it is found growing in hot and dry weather and prefers well-drained, sandy or silty-loamy soil for productive yield. The plant has short or deep tap root with sparsely pubescent to glabrescent stem. Leaves are Simple, alternate, ovate to broadly lanceolate, 2.5–7 cm long, 1.5–3 cm wide, margins entire, apex acute to acuminate, base sub cuneate, oblique, petioles narrowly winged above, 0.8–2 cm long. Flowers are small greenish white or greenish yellow, waxy, divided ca. 1/2 to base, the lobes triangular, ca. 1.5 cm in diameter.


Cayenne pepper is a hot chili pepper in the Capsicum family that is frequently added to dishes to increase their spiciness. Peppers are normally small berry, that are pungent, ellipsoid-conical to lanceoloid or fusiform, 10–20 mm long, 3–7 mm in diameter, much smaller and narrower than C. annuum , pericarp fleshy and firm, hollow and are green when young to mostly red or orange when mature. They need approximately 100 days to mature. Mature cayenne fruit consists of numerous tiny, flat, disk-shaped, off-white or cream colored seeds that are clinging on to central white placenta. Mature pods have deceptively mild smell and Strong spicy taste. The hot and spicy taste of cayenne pepper is mostly due to a substance known as capsaicin, which helps reduce pain. The fruit is eaten raw or cooked, or it is dried and powdered into a spice that has been used for centuries in meals and medicines. Cayenne is made from the ripened fruit, varying from red to yellow. The powder is red or red-brown in color. Some cayennes include the ground seeds and are hotter than those which exclude them. Severely hot and pungent cayenne pepper is one of the widely used spicy ingredients in many cuisines since ancient times.


Cayenne variety of chili pepper plant is native to the Central American region where it was used as a spicy ingredient in Mexican cuisines for several thousand years. This spicy pod was introduced to the rest of the world, especially in the Indian subcontinent, by Spanish and Portuguese explorers during 16th and 17th centuries. It is also believed that Christopher Columbus discovered these spicy little guys while he was traipsing around the Caribbean, and brought them with him when he traveled back to Europe as a substitute for the then-expensive black pepper. They are now one of the important commercial crops in India, Pakistan, China, Argentina and USA.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their deceptively mild smell and Strong spicy taste, Cayenne pepper is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 100 gram of Cayenne pepper offers 2081 µg of Vitamin A, 29.83 mg of Vitamin E, 2.45 mg of Vitamin B6, 7.8 mg of Iron, 2 mg of Manganese, 76.4 mg of Vitamin C, 27.2 g of Total dietary Fiber and 0.919 mg of Vitamin B2.

Health benefits of Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne, also known as capsicum, is an extraordinary spice with amazing health benefits. From hypertension and cancer to arthritis and infections, cayenne treats a slew of your health woes, and all it takes is a dash to reap the benefits of cayenne. Listed below are some popular health benefits of using cayenne pepper:

1. Helps Digestion

Cayenne pepper has positive effect on the digestive system. It helps to produce saliva that is essential for excellent digestion as well as avoiding bad breath. Regular consumption of cayenne pepper helps to stimulate salivary glands that are needed to begin the digestive process.

Apart from that Cayenne pepper also encourages the flow of enzyme production, which is essential for our digestive system to work accurately. It stimulates gastric juices that aid the body’s capability to digest food and toxins.

2. Avoid Congestion

Capsaicin present in cayenne encourages secretions that help to clear the mucus from the nose and lungs by clearing the sinuses and causing sweating. Apart from that tea mixed with cayenne pepper is supposed to be good for treating conditions of cold and flu.

3. Prevents Allergies 

Cayenne is an anti-inflammatory agent that has power to prevent allergies and the symptoms related to allergies. A food allergy is a measurable response to consuming a specific food. Food allergies, or intolerances are caused by a condition known as leaky gut (intestinal permeability), when proteins and food particles pass through the gut and cause systemic body inflammation. Regular consumption of Cayenne pepper helps to fight all kinds of allergies easily.

4. Prevents Blood Clots

Blood clots are actually blockages in the arteries and blood vessels that limit blood flow through your circulatory system. Cayenne inspires fibrinolytic activity and help to prevent blood clots. This is also the reason why cayenne pepper is effective in avoiding heart attacks. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper helps to clear away artery-narrowing lipid deposits, and opens arteries and blood vessels to clear away clots.

5. Supports Weight Loss

Research  have found that consuming cayenne pepper during breakfast creates less appetite, so people eat less calories throughout the day. It also burns excess fat because it’s a metabolic booster. As one of the key anti-inflammatory foods, cayenne pepper benefits also include weight loss. Cayenne pepper has the power to calm inflammation and bloating that comes from allergies, food sensitivities and infections.(1)

6. Provides Detox Support

Regular consumption of cayenne pepper helps to stimulate circulation and eliminate acidity. Cayenne pepper restores the circulatory system by opening the capillaries and regulating blood sugar; it also helps the digestive system that moves bacteria and toxins out of the body. Cayenne pepper also increases body temperature and boosts metabolism.

7. Anti-Fungal Properties

Cayenne pepper has the ability to kill fungus and prevent the formation of fungal pathogens. Research against cayenne consumption found that it was active against 16 different fungal strains, including Candida.

Candida is a fungus that helps with nutrient absorption and digestion, when in proper levels in the body. When it overproduces however, the typical candida symptoms may appear; this includes hormone imbalance, joint pain, digestive problems and a weak immune system.(2)

8. Heart Disease

Research has proven that regular consumption of Cayenne pepper help to stop heart attacks. Cayenne helps to decrease cholesterol levels in the blood and helps to dissolve fibrin, which causes the formation of blood clots. It also reduces triglyceride levels.

9. Relieves Joint and Nerve Pain

Cayenne has very powerful pain-relieving features whenever applied to the skin. It lessens the amount of chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. When there is less chemical that carries pain messages to the brain, the pain messages no longer reach the brain and you feel relief.

Studies have found that cayenne pepper relieves pain after surgery, like mastectomy or an amputation. It also eases pain from nerve damage in the feet or legs from diabetes, lower back injuries, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as fibromyalgia symptoms like joint or muscle pain.

10. Treats Psoriasis

Psoriasis occurs when skin cells replicate too rapidly, and it leads to swollen spots below the skin covered with whitish scales on top. Scaly patches are actually areas of inflammation and excessive skin production.

Research has shown that 0.025 percent capsaicin cream used topically is effective in treating psoriasis.  Regular use of capsaicin cream four times daily for six weeks shows a significant decrease in scaling, thickness, redness and itching.(3)

How to Eat

  • It is used as a spice flavoring in many foods, like curry powder and tabasco sauce.
  • It is widely used in Mexican, Thai, Italian, Malaysian Indian, and Indonesian cuisine.

Other traditional uses and benefits of Cayenne pepper

  • frutescens and C. annuum are used as a carminative, digestive irritant, diaphoretic, stomachic, anti-haemorrhoidal, sialagogue, anti-rheumatic, digestive, antiseptic, stimulant, rubefacient, antispasmodic, stomachic and tonic and as folk remedies for dropsy, colic, muscle cramps, diarrhea, arthritis, asthma and toothache.
  • Pepper has been used as a carminative and stimulant to dispel flatulence and to rouse appetite in European medicine.
  • It is used externally as a strong rubefacient stimulating the circulation, aiding the removal of waste products and increasing the flow of nutrients to the tissues.
  • As rubefacient, it is mixed with cotton-seed oil, applied as cataplasm or as liniment.
  • It is powdered and placed inside socks as a traditional cure for those prone to cold feet.
  • Fruit is used for diarrhea, vomiting and dyspepsia in Peninsular Malaysia.
  • It has been used internally after childbirth as a stimulant and is applied to the skin in childbirth as a counter-irritant.
  • Leaves are used instead of the fruit for this purpose in Java.
  • In Sarawak, the Iban and Malay apply a paste of the leaves mixed with ashes for ringworm; the Kenyah use pounded fruit and cooking ash to treat cuts and wounds; the Bisayas rub pounded roots on the legs to counter black magical spells; and the Melanau consume a leaf decotion to ease pain in urinating.
  • It has been used to treat diabetes mellitus by traditional healers in Jamaica.
  • The ancient Mayans reported to used it for treatment of coughs, sore throat and coughs.
  • A weak fruit infusion can be used as a gargle to treat throat complaints.
  • Fruit juice is applied to the tooth cavity for toothache by the Aztecs.
  • Poultice of chili pepper is used as a poultice over affected rheumatic parts.
  • Applied to the skin it soothes nerve endings and so has been used as a local anesthetic.
  • Strong fruit infusion is used as a cure for scalp ringworm.
  • It has proved effective in dilating blood vessels and therefore relieving chronic congestion of people addicted to drink.

Other Facts

  • frutescens can be used in chilli breeding for genetic improvement purposes.
  • Hot pepper extracts is found to repel to exhibit toxic and repellent effects against spider mites.
  • Capsaicin is also used in a gel-based product as a feral pigeon deterrent from specific roosting and loafing areas.


  • Excessive consumption of red pepper may worsen symptoms of duodenal ulcers and cause gastroenteritis and kidney damage.
  • Cayenne peppers when eaten cause severe irritation as well as hot sensation to mouth, tongue and throat.
  • Avoid touching eyes with cayenne pepper contaminated fingers. If so, wash eyes carefully in cold water to reduce irritation.
  • They may worsen present gastro-esophageal reflux (GER) condition.
  • Eating cayenne in food is considered safe during pregnancy. But pregnant women should not take cayenne as a supplement. Cayenne does pass into breast milk, so nursing mothers should avoid cayenne as a supplement.
  • Do not use capsaicin on open wounds or broken skin.






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