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Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

(Capsicum, Chili Pepper or Capsaicin)

It may be a spice used around the world but don't underestimate the health benefits of cayenne pepper for treating pain. The cream formulation is very effective for reducing all types of pain.

Capsaicin works by causing a local irritation on the skin and also depleting a chemical called "substance P" (needed for pain transmission). These two actions block the pain signal and give relief from pain and itch from conditions such as osteoarthritis,rheumatoid arthritis and nerve pain from diabetes and shingles.

Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

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Cayenne pepper has been used for centuries as a spice and for its health benefits in treating stomach ailments such as heartburn and gas and circulation problems.

The active ingredient found in cayenne pepper, capsaicin, is proven effective for treating arthritis pain and many other types of painful conditions when it is applied on the skin.

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Table of Contents

Suggested Benefits and Traditional Uses, Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings,Dosage & How to Take It

Evidence of Benefits (Leaf Rating System)

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Osteoarthritis

Applying capsaicin cream on the joints affected by osteoarthritis reduces pain. The health benefits of cayenne pepper in reducing pain is proven in many clinical trials.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Pain (diabetic neuropathy, psoriasis, shingles, neuralgia)

Many well-designed clinical studies show that applying capsaicin cream is effective for pain control from many causes.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Heartburn / Indigestion

One clinical study involving 15 volunteers showed that taking cayenne pepper pills cut heartburn symptoms by about 50% compared to placebo.

Unfortunately two of the volunteers (who took the cayenne pepper capsule) experienced stomach pain and had to withdraw from the study.
leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Appetite suppression / Boost fat metabolism

One clinical study shows that eating cayenne pepper as part of a diet seems to modestly suppress appetite.

Another study showed that taking cayenne pepper seems to boost fat metabolism.

From these two studies (and other smaller studies), experts suggest that it can be useful as part of a program for weight loss. Further studies will be required to verify the health benefits of cayenne pepper in weight loss.

Suggested Benefits and Traditional Use Orally

  • Boost fat metabolism
  • Bursitis
  • Indigestion / heartburn
  • Lower back pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Weight loss
  • Topically (on the skin)

  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Fibromyalgia pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain (muscle and joint)
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Shingles (Herpes zoster)
  • Intranasally (in the nose)

  • Cluster headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

    There are few side effects of using capsaicin cream. Mild irritation can be expected when applied to the skin. Taking cayenne pepper tincture or infusion may cause burning sensation in the mouth, watery eyes and a runny nose.

    Some people can be allergic to capsaicin so always test the cream on a small area of the skin first before using it over a larger area. Do not get capsaicin in the eye as it will cause severe burning sensation and pain.

    Interactions with Drugs and Other Health Conditions

    People with stomach ulcers or heartburn may have their symptoms worsened when taking cayenne pepper products.

    I've heard that taking cayenne pepper increases the risk of getting stomach cancer? Is that true?

    Experts are not certain if taking cayenne pepper daily for years would cause stomach cancer. One study showed an increased risk and another study showed that it actually decreased the risk. The answer? Expert aren't sure and more studies will need to be done to get a better answer.

    Dosage & How to Take It

    Topical -Capsaicin cream products commonly contain 0.025% (regular potency) to 0.075% (high potency). Apply up to four times daily to the affected area.

    Pills - Capsules containing 833 mg of cayenne powder have been used up to three times daily before meals for treating heartburn. (Keep in mind that it can also cause heartburn and stomach pain in some people).

    Cayenne Pepper - Taking 10 grams of cayenne pepper with meals modestly suppressed appetite in men and women.

    Infusion - Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2.5 to 5 grams) of cayenne pepper powder to 1 cup (250 mL) of boiling water. Wait ten minutes and take 5 mL (1 teaspoon) up to four times daily.

    Tincture - Take 0.3 to 1 mL up to three times daily.

    Warning: Always wash your hands after applying the cream so that you don't accidentally rub the cream in your eyes or other sensitive areas of your body. The other option is to wear a vinyl or latex glove. Do not apply to open or broken skin as it will cause a burning sensation and pain.

    Note: The use of nasal formulation of capsaicin for treating cluster headache is not discussed here. For the health benefits of cayenne pepper nasal sprays in treating cluster headaches, consult an experienced healthcare professional.


    Created: January 24, 2010