Organic Emily

Medicinal Herb – Cayenne


Medicinal Herb Post #31 written July 23, 2018

Cayenne – Capsicum annuum and all other hot peppers included.

This annual is easy to grow in fertile soil and full sun. I like to start seeds indoors the first part of March, keeping them 1 inch below T8 lights on a shelf in my kitchen. Just like any solanaceous plant it does like a little protection from the really hot afternoon sun. The fruit is the medicine. It can be used fresh or dried.

Cayenne is a very versatile herb. The active ingredient, capsaicin specifically stimulates circulation throughout the body. This can do a lot of things like improve digestion (believe it or not, it’s great for ulcers), it can stimulate the release of endorphins, increase blood flow to help relieve pain when used topically for arthritis, bursitis, muscle/joint aches and healing wounds faster. It has an amazing amphoteric ability to do opposite things in the body. For example it can lower and raise blood pressure by increasing vascular elasticity, improving the function of the cardiovascular system. It’s a natural antibiotic, antihemorrhagic (stops bleeding internally), styptic (stops bleeding externally), anticatarrhal (which means it breaks up mucus in the respiratory system) and a good nervine stimulant.

When the Pioneers came across the plains to Utah, Brigham Young required each family to carry cayenne to help break up the catarrh or mucus when they got sick. It has also been used historically for shock and heart attacks. Cayenne is a must have tincture to keep in your first aid kit. Recent studies have shown that it can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Cayenne is generally safe, however it should be used with caution when handled directly. Be sure to wash hands well after touching. Small amounts of this herb goes a long way.

A great formula for kicking a cold faster is to use equal parts echinacea root powder, Oregon grape root powder, half part marshmallow root powder, half part cayenne powder. Put into capsules or mix with a little water, roll into small little balls easy enough to swallow and dry. At the first sign of a cold take 2 capsules every 2 hours until symptoms subside, then decrease to using 2 capsules 3x a day for 2 more days.

You can also make a salve with cayenne for arthritis and painful joints by heating up 2 tablespoons cayenne powder in a cup of olive oil on very low heat for about an hour. Add 1/4 cup beeswax until melted. Use wintergreen essential oil if desired and pour into jars to set up. Be careful not to touch your eyes after using.

I’d love to hear how you use cayenne!  :)

Emily Saddler

Emily is a Master Gardener, wife of a professional landscape contractor, homeschool mom of 7 cute kids, yoga/pilates instructor and very passionate advocate of organic home-grown food! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Suburban Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients, herbal and natural home care products and her escapades as the keeper of both backyard chickens and honeybees!

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