As I learn about the wonders of the plants in God’s creation, I find myself standing in awe again and again. I love learning how herbs work and ways to use them. The problem is that with so many herbs out there, my brain gets over-crowded.
September’s herbal highlight is one of the most beloved herbs of all time: cayenne pepper.
Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links. (photo credit)
I am not a doctor or a nurse. The only hospital I have ever worked at is a doll hospital. There, a band-aid can cure a heart attack. As always, please do you own research (these are some of my favorite resources) and talk to your health care provider if your condition is serious.
What’s so great about cayenne pepper?
If only granted one herb, many herbalists would pick cayenne. Ancient Egyptian tombs indicate that its healing powers have been valued for millennia.
What’s so special about cayenne? A lot.
Perhaps its most important trait is its ability to stimulate circulation in the body, from the organs down to the tiniest cell. Cayenne’s stimulating powers help it cleanse the blood, boost the immune system, strengthen the heart, and flush out impurities.
If you, like me, are a huge wimp when it comes to hot food, start small. You don’t need to find the hottest cayenne and take a huge pinch. Build up your tolerance slowly. Although it’s tempting to want to take it in a capsule, Lalitha cautions in 10 Essential Herbs, “An important process is initiated in the mouth, brain, and digestive tract when Cayenne interacts with the saliva and enzymes in the mouth…Many stomachs do not like to be surprised [by cayenne]. (1)”
If you happen to get too much cayenne, just take a sip of milk or spoonful of yogurt. It cools the mouth quickly.
Here are just a few uses for this incredible herb:
Numbed senses, uncontrollable shaking, dizziness, and a loss of touch with reality are all symptoms of shock. Cayenne helps calm them all by balancing circulation which helps halt the shock response. When I was pregnant with Edmund, I banged my head really hard and instantly started to go into shock. A dash of cayenne in water worked like a miracle (and allowed us to make my sis-in-law’s wedding rehearsal!) Read the whole cayenne story here.
Cayenne, which is pretty amazing in its own right, is especially beloved because of its effectiveness as a carrier herb. Just a touch of cayenne added to another herb makes the other herb more effective because it speeds the absorption into the bloodstream.
Arthritis and many of the other “itises” can be helped by cayenne. “It appears to act by decreasing the concentration of substance P, the primary chemical used by nerve cells to transmit pain signals. (2)” Unlike other topical pain killers, which tend to lose their effectiveness over time, the capsaicin in cayenne has a cumulative effect. Regular use increases its effectiveness.
Although raw cayenne or cooked dried powder can cause stomach upset and even lead to ulcers, dried it helps heal the stomach and promote “digestion by stimulating the release of saliva and stomach enzymes(1,3)”! So, if you’re using it in food, add it at the very last second so that it doesn’t have time to cook.
It’s a traditional remedy for cold feet. Just sprinkle a teensy tiny bit in your socks and stomp around a bit! Your feet will warm up in a hurry!
For Minor Cuts
Twice now I’ve witnessed cayenne’s incredible ability to stop bleeding. My sis sliced her finger while helping me in the kitchen and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I dumped a little cayenne directly onto the cut and could practically see the blood clot. It was amazing!
Cayenne Pepper Herbal Highlight
There’s a good reason that cayenne pepper ranks near the top of herbalists list of favorite herbs. It is incredibly effective at helping a number of common mini “emergencies” moms face, from stomach problems to cut fingers. Make sure you keep this helpful herb handy in your herbal medicine closet!
What’s your favorite use for cayenne?