Capsicum annuum

´╗┐Herbalist R.C. Wren calls Cayenne "the purest and most certain stimulant in herbal material medica."  And Juliette de Bairacli-Levy labels Cayenne "a supreme and harmless internal disinfectant."  Although Cayenne has probably been used medicinally (and in diets) for thousands of years, it was first written about by the historian Peter Martyr in the year 1493. The year before, Martyr had accompanied Christopher Columbus on an expedition to the New World, where the group of explorers first discovered this pepper.  Cayenne quickly spread throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, invigorating consumers with it's pungent flavors and integrating heat and spice into cuisines across the world. 

Cayenne is an extremely versatile medicinal plant.  Digestive disorders aside, Cayenne is considered a safe digestive tonic and stimulant.  Taken in small amounts, Cayenne increases saliva production, and kick starts the flow of gastric juices to help aid digestion.  West Indians soak the pods in hot water, add sugar and juice of sour oranges and drink when feverish.  This blend helps cool the body by means of perspiration, and supply the body with Vitamin C and antioxidants.  As a systemic stimulant, Cayenne can help strengthen the heart, and promote youthful elasticity in the veins and arteries.  For those who suffer from poor circulation or chills, a small dose of cayenne would be a perfect, warming remedy. 

Cayenne is one of the best rubefacients around.  A rubefacient generates a localized increase of blood flow when applied to the skin.  They help warm the skin and ease pain and itching.  As an anesthetic, Cayenne blocks the "C Fibers" in the nervous system, which when activated or stimulated, cause itching and painful sensations. Used topically, a salve or cream of Cayenne would be great for those who suffer from arthritis, chilblains, or even insect bites. A simple liniment is made by simmering 1 tablespoon of Cayenne in 1 pint of Apple Cider Vinegar; bottle, unstained, while still hot.  Use this liniment on the skin or as a gargle to relieve sore throat, or a toothache.

Family: Solanaceae

Part Used: Fruit

Constituents:  Capsaicinoids, capsaicin, Vitamin C, Vitamin A  

Medicinal Actions:  Stimulant, carminative, anti-catarrhal, sialagogue, rubefacient, antimicrobial, vasodilator

Medicinal Uses:  Systemic stimulant, tones the circulatory system and digestive system, increases peripheral circulation, cold/flu prevention, gargle for sore throats, topical rubefacient.

Preparation: Tincture, Infusion, Salve, Poultice, Liniment 

Contraindications: No side effects or drug interactions reported.  May irritate those with severe ulcers or IBS

Growing Cayenne at Home

Long growing season (14 weeks or longer)

Start from seed indoors in well drained soil.  Keep in a high light location.

After 6-8 weeks inside, plant outside when soil temperature has warmed to about 65 degrees

Plant 12 to 18 inches apart in rich soil

Water well during early stages of growth.

To harvest: Peppers should be 4-6 inches long, either red or green in color.  Snip at the stem just above the cap, store in a dry place at 55 degrees