Originally from South America, the cayenne plant is now used worldwide as a food and spice. Cayenne is very closely related to bell peppers, jalapeƱos, paprika, and other similar peppers. The fruit is used medicinally.

The potent, hot fruit of cayenne has been used as medicine for centuries. It was considered helpful by herbalists for various conditions of the gastro-intestinal tract, including stomach aches, cramping pains, and wind. Cayenne was frequently used to treat diseases of the circulatory system. It is still traditionally used in herbal medicine as a circulatory tonic (a substance believed to improve circulation).

Applied topically to the skin, cayenne is a traditional remedy for rheumatic pains and arthritis.

What it does

Cayenne pepper contains 1.5% of an active constituent called capsaicin, which give it its hotness and irritant effects. Cayenne also contains volatile oils, carotenoids and Vitamins A & C, which account for its powerful anti-oxidant properties. Cayenne offers circulatory benefits by significantly reducing excessive blood clotting. It has been shown to regulate blood flow, strengthen the heart, arteries and capillaries.

Capsaicin may block the feeling of pain by depleting and then blocking the production of ‘substance P’, which is thought to be the main chemical messenger of pain from the peripheral sensory nerves to the brain. Cayenne’s influence on prostaglandin activity may also account for some of its anti-pain properties. The anti-pain effects are especially prominent with topical use.

Potential Uses

Atherosclerosis Anti-oxidant Topically – Arthritis
Back ache Shingles Trigeminal neuralgia
Psoriasis Poor circulation

Other information

Cayenne may reduce the damage caused to the stomach by aspirin and can be taken with aspirin, provided that you do not have a stomach ulcer.

Cayenne in both internal and external use can cause a warming, burning sensation when first used, but this usually reduces after a few days of use.


If you are taking the asthma medication theophylline, do not take cayenne as it increases absorption rates.

Do not take if you have gastritis, heartburn or ulcers.

Do not use internally if you are taking anti-coagulant drugs such as warfarin or heparin without first consulting your doctor.

Topically, cayenne cream should be kept well away from nose, eyes, mouth and any broken skin.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with cayenne.


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