Cayenne / Capsicum: Anti-Inflammatory, Weight Loss & Digestive Aid!

Cayenne / Capsicum: Anti-Inflammatory, Weight Loss & Digestive Aid!

Cayenne is a spice that is also known as capsicum, hot pepper, red pepper, chili and chili pepper. It is derived from the cayenne shrub, a perennial plant native to Central America. Cayenne is often an ingredient of foods prepared in Latin America and the southwestern United States.

Cayenne is rich in nutrients and phytochemicals.

The active ingredient is a compound known as capsaicin.

Capsaicin works by reducing the amount of a chemical, “substance P,” that sends pain signals to the brain. Because of this ability, capsaicin creams/gels (typically in combination with other ingredients) are often used to reduce lower back pain, as well as the pain associated with conditions such as arthritis/rheumatism, shingles and peripheral neuropathy.

Capsaicin creams can also decrease the itching, redness and scaling associated with psoriasis.

In addition, cayenne and capsaicin are common ingredients in weight loss supplements. In truth, capsaicin has modest thermogenic effects and may provide a small boost in fat oxidation.

Although it’s no miracle, in combination with other ingredients (such as green tea extract), it could help curb appetite and increase satiety. Related compounds from sweet peppers, dubbed “capsinoids” may also have similar effects, although a recent study cast doubt on those claims.

Cayenne is also frequently recommended as a natural treatment for indigestion, although it’s perhaps not for everyone.

Evidence suggests that—while it could be effective when taken long-termit may initially induce upper abdominal symptoms.

Lastly, capsaicin sprays have shown some promise in reducing the symptoms of rhinitis as well as cluster headaches.

Injectable capasicin also may be used to relieve post-operative, as well as chronic, joint pain.

Cayenne, capsaicin and/or capsinoids are available in tinctures, capsules, tablets, fresh herb, liquids, ointments, nasal sprays, gels and creams. When used topically, capsaicin will burn slightly and should not be used near the eyes or mouth, or on broken skin.

The best form to use depends both on the condition being treated and on individual preference. Although cayenne is a commonly used spice, there is the potential for interactions with prescription drugs, including ACE inhibitors, antacids, blood thinners (warfarin and heparin) and—especially—theophylline when taken in larger, supplemental doses.

In addition, cayenne/capasicin supplements should not be used during pregnancy.

When taken internally, cayenne sometimes causes stomach pain or diarrhea. When used topically, it may burn or cause an allergic reaction.

To minimize the likelihood of experiencing side effects, follow the dosage recommendations on the label of the cayenne product you are using. Always start with a low dose and increase the amount as needed. If side effects occur, reduce the dosage or stop using the product.

If you’re looking to experiment with cayenne/capsicum, check out BodyBuilding.com. They offer a large selection of such products and their service is beyond reproach.

Author: elissa

Elissa is a former research associate with the University of California at Davis, and the author/co-author of over a dozen articles published in scientific journals. Currently a freelance writer and researcher, Elissa brings her multidisciplinary education and training to her writing on nutrition and supplements.

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