Cayenne

Also indexed as:Capsicum annuum var. annuum, tabasco pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper
Cayenne: Main Image © Steven Foster
Botanical names:
Capsicum annuum var. annuum

Parts Used & Where Grown

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

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Osteoarthritis
Apply 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin ointment four times per day over painful joints3 stars[3 stars]
When rubbed over painful joints, cayenne extract creams containing 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin may reduce the pain and tenderness of osteoarthritis.
Pain
Apply 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin ointment four times per day over painful areas3 stars[3 stars]
Capsaicin, an extract of cayenne pepper, appears to work by blocking pain signals and may ease many types of chronic pain when applied regularly to the skin.
Postherpetic Neuralgia and Pain
Apply 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin ointment four times per day over painful areasas Cayenne Topical3 stars[3 stars]
A component of cayenne pepper known as capsaicin can be applied as a cream or ointment to soothe the pain of postherpetic neuralgia.
Psoriasis
Apply 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin ointment four times per day over pain areas with unbroken skin3 stars[3 stars]
to relieve itching and help heal sores. Cayenne contains capsaicin, which relieves pain and itching and may help heal sores..
Type 1 Diabetes and Diabetic Neuropathy
Apply an ointment containing 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin four times per day to areas of nerve painas Cayenne Topical3 stars[3 stars]
Topically applied capsaicin (from cayenne) has been shown to relieve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Neuropathy
Apply an ointment containing 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin four times a day to areas of nerve painas Cayenne Topical3 stars[3 stars]
Topically applied capsaicin (from cayenne) may help relieve nerve pain.
Anal Itching
An ointment containing 0.006% capsaicin, thinly applied three daily for 4 weeks2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind trial, topically applying capsaicin relieved chronic anal itching in 70% of patients.
Cluster Headache
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
Capsaicin, a constituent of cayenne pepper, applied inside the nostrils may ease the pain of cluster headaches and reduce recurrences.
Obesity
Add 6 to 10 grams to each meal2 stars[2 stars]
Incorporating cayenne pepper into the diet may promote weight loss by reducing hunger and calories consumed and increasing the calories the body burns.
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Apply 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin ointment four times per day over painful areas2 stars[2 stars]
A cream containing capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne pepper, may help relieve pain when rubbed onto arthritic joints.
Athletic Performance
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Capsaicin, a constituent of cayenne, has been shown to reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis and provide relief from chronic low back pain.
Bursitis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Some doctors recommend using the anti-inflammatory herbs boswellia, turmeric, willow, and topical cayenne ointment for bursitis.
Low Back Pain
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Topical cayenne pepper has been used for centuries to reduce pain and to diminish localized pain for a number of conditions.
Migraine Headache
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Capsaicin, the active constituent of cayenne, may be applied inside the nose as a treatment for acute migraine under a doctor’s supervision.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

The potent, hot fruit of cayenne has been used as medicine for centuries. It was considered helpful by herbalists for various conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, including stomach aches, cramping pains, and gas. 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). Rubbed on the skin, cayenne is a traditional, as well as modern, remedy for rheumatic pains and arthritis due to what is termed a counterirritant effect. A counterirritant is something that causes irritation to a tissue to which it is applied, thus distracting from the original irritation (such as joint pain in the case of arthritis).

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.