› What is it?
Cayenne peppers are a type of chili pepper. They belong to the nightshade family of flowering plants and are closely related to bell peppers and jalapeños. These peppers boast an impressive nutrition profile, which includes a variety of antioxidants that are beneficial for your health.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne peppers, is what gives them their medicinal properties. It also gives them their hot taste. In fact, how hot cayenne pepper is depends on its capsaicin content. The more capsaicin it contains, the hotter it is.
› Health benefits
These are some of the promising science-backed benefits of cayenne pepper.
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers helps increase the amount of heat your body produces, making you burn more calories per day. And while the capsaicin may help boost your metabolism, its effect is small and you may build up a tolerance.
The capsaicin in cayenne peppers may reduce hunger, helping you eat less and feel fuller for longer. How it does this is not completely understood, but one study showed that it reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Cayenne pepper may help boost the stomach’s defense against infections, increase digestive fluid production and help deliver enzymes to the stomach, aiding digestion.
Capsaicin has powerful pain relief properties by reducing the amount of substance P that your body produces. Substance P is a neuropeptide produced by the body that travels to the brain to signal pain. It’s important to note that capsaicin cream should not be applied to an open wound or broken skin.
Studies show capsaicin creams can help relieve itching and improve the appearance of psoriasis-affected areas. It may help improve symptoms by reducing the amount of substance P produced by your body.
› How much do I need?
You can buy powdered cayenne pepper and add it to your water, smoothie or protein shake. About 28 grams of fresh chili pepper or 1 gram of dried chili pepper can be enough to provide benefits. Or include capsaicin as a supplement in your diet. Take either 30-120 milligram capsules. Always start with a small dose to see how your body reacts. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
› In food
You can add a pinch of cayenne pepper spice to many of your favorite foods, such as eggs, homemade fries and even marinades.
› Dietary supplements
Cayenne supplements are available in capsules and gelcaps. Capsaicin creams are also available.
Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.