Latin: Capsicum annuum
Parts Used: Fruits
Taste/Energetics: Hot, Spicy, Drying
Properties: Expectorant, diaphoretic, analgesic, stimulant
Actions: Traditionally used by certain Native American tribes for 10,000 years, cayenne is one of the most commonly recognized herbs due to its extremely hot flavor. Cayenne and other chili peppers were brought to the Old World and Asia after colonization in the 1500’s. Used as an ingredient in many Hispanic and Asian dishes, it strongly flavors dishes and generally causes the person to sweat. Though the immediate effect is heating, this actually helps cool down the individual which could be quite helpful in hot climates where cayenne grows. The main constituent capsaicin gives the peppers the hot flavor. Cayenne is commonly used internally as a spice and has been used to treat ailments such as arthritis, low blood pressure, neuropathy, microbial infections, sore throats and poor sex drive. Internally, cayenne is stimulating, helping improve circulation and digestive function.
Externally it has been used in liniments for symptoms such as sprains, neuralgic pain and arthritis.
In terms of mental health, cayenne is quite helpful for those who run cold, are sluggish and tight, internally frustrated and depressed. It is also helpful as a liniment for folks who feel sad and frustrated due to neuralgic cramping pain.
Dose: Internally it is best prepared in meals. The dose is pretty subjective. You’ll know when you’ve reached your limit. It can be taken in capsules but the salivary glands don’t get the “hit” from tasting the pepper. Externally, it can be prepared as a liniment or salve.
Contraindications: Hmmm…have you ever eaten too many cayenne peppers?
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Cayenne monograph by Rosalee de la Foret