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 because it increases mucus production in the stomach), 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 also contains a chemical called substance P that is known to numb nerve pain.  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.  The application of cayenne is really important to consider. For increasing elasticity within the vessels taking a capsule is fine.  But when you need it to soothe a sore throat or help the stomach to produce more mucus to heal an ulcer it must be taken in powder form or tincture form outside of a capsule otherwise it just passes through the intestines and doesn’t do what you need it to do.

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. You can also add other herbs to the salve like arnica, bay leaves, chamomile and dandelion flowers.

I’d love to hear how you use cayenne! 🙂

Emily Saddler

Emily is first a wife to her best friend Ryan, homeschool mom of 7 awesome kids, Holistic Health Practitioner in the state of Utah and Traditional Naturopath outside of the state of Utah, master gardener, yoga/pilates instructor, certified clinical and master herbalist, licensed massage therapist, and doula. She is a very passionate advocate of all things Mother Nature! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients, herbal and natural home care product recipes and loves teaching classes on gardening, plant identification and herbal remedy workshops. Check out the events and classes page for more info.

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