Capsicum Annuum

THE CAPSICUM FRUIT

A well-known cultivar of Capsicum annum, cayenne pepper is a red chili pepper famous for its heat.

CAPSICUM FRUITThis hot pepper is often ground into the spice known by the same name.  Cayenne adds a zesty kick to all kinds of cuisines, but it also has some surprising health benefits.

Because cayenne contains a potent phytochemical known as capsaicin, scientific and medical research suggests it has the power to heal. But its healing potential was actually tapped into centuries ago by the Mayans.  Mayans discovered that cayenne could actually ward off infections and later learned that cayenne was an excellent remedy for both toothaches.

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More recently, however, cayenne has become popular for treating a wide array of ailments.  Practitioners of both herbal and alternative medicines have prescribed powdered cayenne or cayenne ointments to treat rheumatism, headaches, cramps, arthritis, and muscle pain.  One folk remedy to treat fever and cold calls for a mixture of cayenne and water; patients gargle with the mixture in order to alleviate symptoms such as sore throat.  The heat created by cayenne has even been known to clear the sinuses of cold sufferers.  Cayenne may also be useful in the treatment of psoriasis and shingles.

Medical research has demonstrated that the capsaicin contained in peppers does alleviate pain by desensitizing nerve endings for a certain period of time.

Additionally, it would appear that capsaicin can, indeed, provide antibacterial action as established by modern research.  Moreover, researchers have found that cayenne can reduce the levels of triglycerides in the blood; this ultimately benefits the cardiovascular system.  Capsaicin has also been shown to increase blood flow.  The antioxidants contained in cayenne are strong combatants of cardiovascular disease.

But the healthy news about cayenne doesn’t stop there.  Other studies suggest that cayenne may even have the power to kill cancer cells.  It has even been shown to protect the stomach against the development of ulcers and to prevent inflammation in the body.  Other healthy substances contained in cayenne include flavonoids, carotenoids, and various vitamins and minerals.

Dried cayenne is typically made into creams or ointments for the herbal medicine market and has been shown to reduce abdominal fat and over eating.

Peppers are often harvested at the end of summer before they are powdered and dried.  Of course, as a culinary ingredient, cayenne is also easily procured at food markets.  It is the perfect ingredient for people who love hot and spicy cuisine.  With all its health benefits, consider adding some cayenne pepper to your diet every week.

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