Benefits: Also known as Capsaicin, Cayenne, Chilli Pepper. This herb is considered one of the most useful of the circulatory stimulants. It has been shown to regulate the blood flow, equalizing and strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. As a general tonic it is specific for the circulatory and digestive system. Can be used for flatulent dyspepsia and colic. Has also been used where there are stomach and bowel pains and cramps. May be used if there is insufficient peripheral circulation leading to cold hands and feet and possibly chilblains. Externally it is used topically in the form of an ointment to increase the blood flow to areas affected by lumbago, rheumatism or neuralgia. Cayenne is also used in a gargle for sore throats.
It has a powerful antioxidant activity due to its carotene molecules. It also exerts a number of beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. It reduces the likelihood of developing artherosclerosis by reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Cultures that consume large amounts of cayenne pepper have a much lower rate of cardiovascular disease.
When topically applied to the skin or mucous membranes, it is known to stimulate and then block the small diameter pain fibres by depleting them of a neurotransmitter called Substance P. Substance P has been shown to activate anti-inflammatory mediators in joint tissues in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Active Constituents: Capsaicin (0.3%), the pungent principle. Also carotenoids, flavonoids, essential oil and Vitamin C.
Pharmacological Actions: Stimulant, carminative, tonic, antiseptic, spasmolytic and causes local vasodilation when applied to the skin (rubefacient).
Contraindications: Should not be used internally on patients with ulcers of the stomach as it will aggravate the condition. Should also be avoided in cases of gastric hyperacidity to capsaicin.