In honor of the cooler weather it’s time to explore one of the HOT HERBS. Cayenne Pepper or Capsicum minimum is amazing for heating up any situation! It is both an extremely useful medicine and it gives a zing to dishes from all over the world.
It is possible to buy cayenne in different forms. The dried pepper itself is useful but you may have to look through a variety of peppers to find the cayenne. The most common way to purchase it is already ground. It is available in most grocery stores but the best cayenne is organic. It is affordable and has no chemicals.
Cayenne has a number of medicinal uses and some of them may surprise you. Cayenne
- promotes and improves circulation
- produces natural warmth
- relieves gas
- adrenal support
- anti inflammatory
- relieves sore overworked muscles
- relieves pain of tendonitis
Internally ingesting a small amount of cayenne in food will both help eliminate gas and improve digestion. Because cayenne opens all body tissues it also assists in increasing blood flow. This assists with inflammation and healing.
Externally putting a small amount of cayenne in a carrier of Olive oil or aqueous cream (available from drugstores) and rubbing it into the skin will relieve joint and tendonitis pain. I have used this mixture to treat golfers elbow and it works extremely well.
CAUTION must be used and it is better to start with too little cayenne than too much. Cayenne is slightly irritating to the skin so too much can cause burning and in extreme cases blistering however, if you try a tiny dab on the underside of your wrist you will quickly discover if you have used too much. Warmth is good, burning means wash it off and start again.
Another interesting use for cayenne is to keep feet warm. A very small amount of cayenne in shoes can keep the blood flowing to cold feet keeping them warm and comfortable.
People who are on blood thinners or taking aspirin may want to regulate their ingestion of cayenne. A small amount is fine but consistent over indulgence may interfere with the medication.
Cayenne is used in foods from many countries. It is used in Indian, Malaysian and some Chinese foods. It is also used in my favorite cuisine which is Louisiana cooking.
For Cajun cooking cayenne is mixed with other spices to make a “Cajun Spice Mix”. My favorite is
Experiment with the quantities but generally you will use slightly less (about 2/3) cayenne than the other ingredients. Use this mixture in your favorite Gumbo recipe, as a blackening agent or invent new recipes.
Cayenne has many more benefits than there is space to mention them all. Remember that it is perfectly safe if used with common sense. Externally start small and increase the quantities till the point of feeling comfortable warmth. You can always reapply.
Bartram Thomas, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Marlowe & Company New York
Health Notes Inc, A-Z Guide to drug-herb-vitamin interactions, Prima Publishing New York