Cayenne is used both as medicine and food. There are different varieties of cayenne peppers, and they all contain capsaicin in different amounts. Capsaicin gives the peppers a hot and spicy taste, by switching on the same nerve ending that switches on when you’re feeling heat greater than 110 degrees F.  As a medicine, it acts as a systemic stimulant, regulating blood flow and strengthening the heart, capillaries, arteries and veins. As a general tonic, it strengthens nerves, circulatory system and digestive system. It is useful for flatulent dyspepsia, colic, cold hands and feet, chilblains, and other circulatory insufficiencies. Applied externally to a wound, it can stop bleeding. It has been used in heart attacks.  It improves one’s appetite and stimulates the secretion of digestive juices. It warms the stomach and helps in the removal of toxins. It is useful in all illnesses as a circulatory stimulant and antimicrobial. An an analgesic, it can be applied in a cream externally.

Common Name of the Herb: Cayenne

Latin Name: Capsicum annuum

Parts Used: fruit, either fresh or dried

Actions: Appetizer, analgesic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, rubefacient, sialagogue, local and systemic stimulant, tonic, anti-catarrhal,  antimicrobial.

Preparation and Use: Used in cooking. For external use it is available in cream form. To start, it may be taken as one capsule of powder or 1/4″ mixed with a small amount of water. For infusion, pour one cup of boiling water over one teaspoon of cayenne and let it stand for ten minutes. One teaspoon of infusion can be mixed with hot water and drunk when needed, or combined with myrrh to form a gargle for laryngitis or an antiseptic wash.  Also used as a tincture and may be combined with other herbs to aid circulation of the herb to all parts of the body. Used with four other vegetables to make Immune Tonic.

Cautions and Limitations of Use:

Handle cayenne pepper carefully. If possible, wear gloves when preparing it and wash your hands afterwards. Cayenne is an irritant (rubefacient) that can cause inflammation and irritation of the skin. During preparation, the air may become infused with cayenne, and you may breathe it in. This is annoying, but not harmful.

To acclimate your body to cayenne, start with a small amount and gradually increase.

Just before or after exercise, cayenne pepper may cause a temporary stomachache.

Caution for all herbs and foods: Stop using if you experience symptoms of allergy.  Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. People who are allergic to other foods in the chili pepper family may be allergic to cayenne.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications, regarding possible interactions.

If in doubt about the safety of any herb, consult a doctor with special knowledge and experience with herbs.

Extra Information:

Constituents: essential oils, capsaicin, caretenoids, flavonids, oleic acid, stearic acids, palmitic acid, vitamin C

Growing the Herb: Sow the seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the projected last frost. Cayenne seeds need light to germinate so just press them into the germination mix. Seedlings will be available in three weeks. These should be replanted outdoors once soil temperature is at least 70 degrees. Plant them 12 inches apart in rich, sandy loam.

How to Gather: When harvesting the fruits, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.

Other English Common Names: African Pepper, bird’s eye chili, guinea pepper, cocksbur pepper, Spanish Pepper, Zanzibar Pepper

Where it Grows: Originally, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Zanzibar, and other parts of Africa. At present, it may be grown in  home gardens all over the world. In the US, it grows well in USDA Zones 5-12.

How to Identify: The cayenne shrub grows to a height of 24”. The leaves are elliptical, slightly leathery, dark green and smooth. The flowers produce pods (hollow fruit) of flat, white, pungent seeds. These pods (peppers) are green when immature and change to purple, red, orange or yellow when ripe.

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9 Responses to “Cayenne”

  1. Jennifer @ Carpet Cleaning Sacramento April 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I’ve heard of using the baking soda & vinegar combination for cleaning. It’s less expensive than traditional chemical cleaners, and safer if children get a hold of it.

    You can also use vinegar & water solutions for everyday cleaning as well. Most people think that vinegar smells too strongly, but it really does go away, and keeps everything clean.

    • Cheryl April 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Hi, Jennifer. You are right. The vinegar smell does go away, and it is totally safe for children, goldfish, and so forth. Another bonus is that ants don’t like vinegar. It takes some persistence, but if you keep wiping down with vinegar areas where you see ants in the spring, eventually, they don’t come back. Be aware, though, that you need to start NOW, not after they are marching back and forth in the thousands.

  2. Jared@Sell My Stuff May 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Going to have to try that bathroom tip about the mold. And seeing how I just spilled some coffee on the carpet, I’m going to have to find some vinegar too 😉

  3. Jack@Ikea rugs July 30, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Actually I use the same procedure as Jeniffer mentioned so I would also recommend it.

  4. Sam August 20, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    I would have to agree with Jennifer I have also heard of the vast amount of things that can be cured with simply vinegar and baking soda.

    I remember my nan having an old book that outlined all of the cures for vinegar and honey I wish I could remember what it was.

    I’ll never foget using vinegar to cure my bee sting and it worked!

    • Cheryl September 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

      Sam, was that a bee sting or a wasp sting? I’ve understood that vinegar works for wasp stings and baking soda for bee stings. In a summer camp stinging incident, we did an experiment. We didn’t know if the stings were from bees or wasps. We put vinegar on half the stings and baking soda on the other half. Only the vinegar worked, so I assumed the stings were from wasps. Since bees are usually not aggressive and only sting when killed, it made sense that the stings were from wasps.

  5. Nana@room clean up November 2, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    Hmm i agree and I think that they should actually create a commercial cleaning product that is non-toxic and safe for everyone .. I know that i would buy it, eventho it might just say cleaning vinegar on it…

    This is much better than contaminating the waters and surroundings with chemicals imho…

  6. imma@green business November 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    The ladies that used to clean my house always used a vinegar mix to clean the floors. It always did a really good job of cleaning, better I think than some of the commercial products. It would smell like vinegar for a few days, but the smell goes away pretty quick. However, many of the commercial products also have a rather noxious smell that is also dangerous to inhale.

  7. Mike@homemade cleaning products February 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Good ideas on safe, natural cleaning.

    I also like your ideas on preventing odors. Many/most of the commercial air fresheners aren’t something you want to use in your home. Some of them work by using chemicals that coat your nasal passages or deaden nerves so you can’t smell the offending odor. Many contain chemicals that react in dangerous ways with common indoor air pollutants and, especially in the case of the plug-in type, they are continuously releasing their toxic fumes.

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