Cayenne Peppers


Cayenne Peppers (Capsicum annuum)

 Cayenne peppers from the Capsicum annuum plant have been part of the traditional medicine of Native Americans for thousands of years. They are also used in Indian and other Asian forms of herbal medicine. The peppers are usually dried and powdered to produce a remedy that is sometimes taken internally or might also be applied topically. Cayenne peppers contain an active compound called capsaicin that gives them medicinal value.

Capsaicin is a natural irritant that gives cayenne peppers their hot, spicy taste. Chemically, capsaicin is a type of compound called an alkaloid, which interacts with nerves in your tissues when it is applied to the skin. It binds to special nerve receptors that perceive heat and, as a result, it is perceived as being hot when applied topically. It also reduces production of a natural chemical called substance P by your nerves. Substance P is a compound that carries pain signals to your brain. As a result, capsaicin might reduce your perception of pain from the part of your body where it is applied.

Substantial research has examined whether topical application of either cayenne powder or capsaicin extract is helpful in reducing muscle and other pain. In an overview published in "Drugs" in 1997, the authors concluded that capsaicin is effective in treating many types of pain. While capsaicin has not been studied for pain that occurs specifically in leg muscles, in a large review study published in the journal "Spine" in 2007, it was found effective against lower back pain involving muscles and joints.

Recommendations and Precautions
Topical preparations containing cayenne or purified capsaicin are available from pharmacies or health food stores as creams or salves. Usually, these products contain 0.025 to 0.075 percent capsaicin and are recommended for application to the skin over the painful area, up to four times daily. It might be necessary to apply cayenne for several days before pain diminishes. While generally considered safe, topical application of cayenne might cause irritation to the skin in some people. Do not use cayenne with a heating pad and do not apply it to any area where skin is cut or abraded. Discuss cayenne or capsaicin cream with your doctor before using it.

Disclaimer: The information presented herein  is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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