I was chatting with a friend this morning - and we got into talking about winter and how cold it will be! She mentioned that she had tried the technique of putting cayenne pepper in your socks (wear double socks with the cayenne in between and DO NOT let it touch your skin). She said a small amount ensured her tooties were toasty! She told me that cinnamon in her mittens (double layer, perhaps?) kept her hands warm too!
I am totally trying these winter methods!! Thanks so much for the information, "S!!" :)
So, being on a cayenne kick this morning, I pay homage to the cayenne pepper. A wonder of wonders.....now if I could only get up the nerve to try it. Sounds kind of spicy to me!
This article found here: http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_cayenne.htm It looks like a great informational website about herbs and such! I will be doing more reading on it very soon!
The famous spice called the cayenne is a type of pepper species that is native to tropical America. The cayenne is a perennial herb when grown in natural conditions in tropical areas of the world, however, it can also be cultivated as an annual plant in areas outside the tropical zone - the cultivation of this plant is carried out as an intense commercial activity in many tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The cayenne is characterized by having a glabrous stem, the stem is woody at the bottom and branched near the top, the cayenne can reach a height of three feet or more when fully mature. The cayenne also has ovate to lanceolate shaped leaves, the leaves are entire and bear a petiole. Between the months of April to September, the plant bears white to yellow colored flowers which can grow singly or even in pairs of three each. The source of the commercial cayenne is the ripe fruit, this fruit is a multi seeded pod or pepper which is characterized by having an external covering which is leathery; it comes in various shades from red to yellow. Commercial chili comes in many varieties and forms, the more famous ones are from areas around California, they are the jalapeno, the serrano and the yellow wax. All chili varieties have the hot tasting and fiery property because of the presence of a chemical compound called capsaicin in the fruiting body. The hotness of different chilies can be measured and scored by the units devised early in the 20th century by Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, the scoring of capsaicin content in different chilies is carried out in units called Scoville Units - these measure the comparative hotness of different chilies. The majority of all the commercial peppers available in the market today come in a “hotness” range from a negligible zero to 300,000 Scoville Units according to this measurement. The commonly used culinary pepper, the green bell peppers have no scoville rating and at zero due to the absence of capsaicinoids in the fruiting body. The famous jalapenos pepper are considered to be fiery and come at a scoville rating between 2,500 to 5,000, the hottest Tabasco peppers and the different varieties of cayenne have scoville ratings from 30,000 units all the way to 50,000 scoville units. Topping the Scoville scale at a scorching 300,000 each are the Scotch Bonnet pepper from the Caribbean and the pepper called the Habanero from the Mexican area of Yucatan. The scoville unit has been replaced these days by a new hotness system, known as the Official Chili Heat Scale, that has a hotness rating for chilies from 0 to 10-simplifying the rating of chilies to some degree. In this new hotness scale, a rating of zero is still applied to the bell peppers - which are at the bottom of the rating due to the absence of capsaicin, a rating of 5 is given to the jalapenos peppers, a rating of 8 is given to the Tabasco and cayenne peppers, and the hottest rating of 10 is given to the Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers.
As mentioned before, the chemical compound called capsaicin is the main active ingredient in cayenne and all other chili peppers - this compound is responsible for the “hotness” associated with chilies. The presence of this compound is responsible for the fiery kick present in Mexican food, the capsaicin is responsible for turning the plain pickle juice into the sauce known as Tabasco, the capsaicin is the active compound that turns ginger ale into such a real thirst quencher, the strong flavors and spiciness of Cajun cuisine depends on the capsaicin of all the peppers used in cooking, capsaicin is what makes the famous curry powder such an ubiquitous and interesting general spice for a variety of cooking styles. The main action of the compound capsaicin lies mainly in its ability to initially stimulate the hypothalamus and then to actively desensitize the warmth detectors in the hypothalamic region - when the compound achieves both of these actions, it brings on a significant drop in the temperature of the body temperature. This ability of the capsaicin to drop elevated body temperatures is the main factor which allows natives in many hot southern climates such as the tropical countries in Central and South America and Africa, to tolerate the excessive heat in those regions a lot better than a native of a temperate region would be able to. The amazing fact is that the reason for the heavy consumption of capsicum and chili peppers in tropical areas as an aid to keeping cool, this may sound incredible but it is a well known fact.
Chemically, the molecular structure of the capsaicin compound is very similar to the structure of vanilla; however, the thermal rating of capsaicin is metaphorically speaking as hot as the molten hinges on the gates of hell itself. The ability of the cayenne pepper to boost up the body’s metabolic rate has been suggested by the results of some of the more recent European studies, these studies also point out that the vitamin C levels in the body may also be boosted up by adding cayenne peppers to the daily meal. By an as yet unidentified pathway, the capsaicin is believed to be capable of revving up and "resetting" the body’s "fat thermostats" controlled by tissues simply called "brown fat", this beneficial action allows the body to burn off excess fat through the act of metabolic chemical combustion, and avoids the storing of fat alongside the muscular tissues.
Capsaicin based topical herbal creams can be used to gain temporary relief from the pain of minor aches and the symptomatic muscles' pains and joints related to long term arthritis, these can also be used as an external treatment in the case of a simple backache, and in treating strains and sprains of all kinds. These topical creams can be used safety by all adults and by children two years of age or older. Ideally, the topical herbal cream must be applied to the affected areas of the body regularly and on a daily basis, not exceeding four times a day per session. On the initial use of the topical capsaicin treatment, there may be some transient burning sensation along the affected area, these usually abate over the course of several days and full relief is gained in no time at all. Daily application is required to gain optimal relief from symptoms, and the treatment should be used continuously, with application sessions three to four times daily as long as the symptoms persist.
Some precautionary measures to be followed: handle the capsaicin topical cream with care and wash your hands carefully using a lot of soap and water, following application of the cream. Care should be taken during application of the cream and not to rub the cream on broken skin or along existing rashes on the skin. The cream must be kept away from the eyes and must not be used in conjunction with a topical heating pad.
The amazing thing about capsaicin and its ability to induce so much “hotness” and irritation on the skin is that it can aid in the healing of painfully raw and sensitive stomach ulcers, helping in the healing process of damaged tissues over a period of time during recovery. The main question to ask is how does the compound accomplish this action in the human body? One possible effect of the capsaicin inside the body can be that the compound stimulates the mucosal cells in the gut, this may result in the rapid release of more slimy mucous which results in a mucus coating forming on the walls of the intestines, and this coating may also cover the sore and bleeding intestinal ulcers, preventing them from spreading and leading to the healing of the damaged tissues. The analogy of a dog licking its wounds or a man sucking a burnt finger in his mouth, can be used as a comparison for the way stomach ulcers are alleviated when covered by heavy mucous secretions in the intestines. The healing of ulcers in the intestinal area is thus accomplished by cayenne peppers in this way - all due of course, to the presence of the chemical compound capsaicin. The dosage of herbal capsaicin suggested for daily consumption is a single capsule, taken two times to thrice along with the daily meals - this dosage must be maintained throughout the supplementation period.
The elevated high blood sugar levels which affects diabetics can also be reduced significantly by making the patient consume an average of three capsules of capsicum, such as the herbal product called Nature's Way or any herbal capsule brand of capsicum from a health food store - regularly taking this dose of capsicum will enable the patient to control and lower the heightened blood glucose levels in the body. Conversely patients who are not otherwise diabetic and are diagnosed with hypoglycemic, are advice to avoid all cayenne and chili based products in their own interest - they should strictly remove all capsaicin containing foods in their meals and must stay off herbal formulas containing capsaicin at the same time.
During animal tests involving rodents in the laboratory, the test rodents were given a very high fat diet; at the same time cayenne pepper was also supplemented to study its effects on the physiology of the animals. One of the most significant and immediate results that could be discerned in the animals was liver cholesterol content did not rise and the animals also seemed to experience an increased in the excretion of cholesterol in the feces. These beneficial effects of the cayenne must be taken advantage of, and individuals who are consuming any type of greasy food, must ensure that they drink at least eight oz. glasses of tomato juice fortified with a pinch of cayenne pepper with some lemon juice added for flavor. The risk of heart disease can be substantially lowered in this way if the diet is carefully followed.
A particular kind of severe and uncomfortable headache called cluster headaches affects many unfortunate patients around the world. These types of headaches can last from half an hour to a whole two hours at times and may suddenly affect the person many times daily for months at a time. The presence of throbbing pain in and around the eye is the first symptoms of such headaches and they are characterized by such excruciating and severe pains from other types of headaches or migraines. Patients suffering from cluster headaches often complain of a severe and intense pain in the eyeball as a hypodermic syringe stabbing them in the eye - such is the intensity of the pain during the occurrence of the headache that the patient may be unable to perform any tasks, physical or otherwise and may be totally overcome by the pain. Approximately two million Americans suffering from cluster headaches can soon expect some relief thanks largely to the results obtained during the course of a pioneering research carried out in Italy - a cure from the worst aspects of cluster headaches may soon be on the horizon due to this research. During the course of the investigation, several Italian doctors tested the physiological effects of a capsaicin based cream called Zostrix for up to a week on a group of forty five cluster headache patients. During the trial, the clinical researchers used sterile cotton swabs smudged with a little of the capsaicin cream, these swabs were then inserted about an inch into the nostrils of the patient towards the side of the head where the symptomatic pain was greatest during an attack of the cluster headache. This initial insertion of the swabs was followed by sessions of massages immediately upon removal of the swabs, each such session lasted fifteen seconds during which the nostril was gently massaged to ensure that the capsaicin cream in the nostril was evenly distributed within the entire nostril - the rubbing was also intended to enable the penetration of the cream into the mucous membranes inside the nostril. Amazing results were obtained from the week long study, thirty four of the patients experienced a total disappearance of the symptoms associated with the cluster headaches, and some of the remaining patients were also free of symptomatic pain for up to a year following the tests. Only six of the patients reported no improvement at all, while five others experienced a 500/0 reduction in the intensity and severity of the headaches. An initial burning sensation in the nostril was the only side significant side effect of note, noticed by any of the patients using the cream - however, this burning sensation also stopped being a problem after four or five applications of the cream.
To some extent, energy levels in the body of a person are known to be boosted by consuming some capsicum or some paprika. Many herbal energy boosting products in fact contain the capsicum in some form; this is especially true of many products available in the herbal market, including the product called Nature's Way Herbal Up, which is available in the majority of health food stores around the United States. Among volunteers in a clinical setting who used capsicum in diet regularly, the consumption of cayenne pepper actually increased the strength of the electrical energy auras in the body. The strength boosting capabilities of the cayenne peppers can be understood from the results of this finding itself.
Fat or alcohol can dissolve capsaicin - the fiery ingredient in chilies and peppers very easily. For this reason, when people consume chilies or peppers in their meals or for medicinal property and are affected by the “fiery” sensation, they often tend to resort to drinking either milk or beer to help reduce the intensity of the “hotness” induced in the taste buds - beer and milk are very popular in this regard with chili and pepper eaters.
A pepper based ointment consisting of one part ground hot pepper and five parts petroleum jelly - Vaseline - is manufactured and used in mainland China and the country of Taiwan to treat athletic injuries and other work related to physical injuries like muscle sprains, all kinds of bruises, and the swollen painful joints - this ointment is rubbed into the affected area of the body directly for relief from the physical trauma. The petroleum jelly - Vaseline - is initially melted down and to the ground hot pepper is added, the preparation is mixed well and then allowed to undergo cooling till it congeals and forms a gel - at which point it is ready for use. The affected area of the body can be rubbed using this herbal ointment once every day, or once every two days for maximum relief from the pain. The efficiency of this healing ointment can be gauged from a report published in the year 1965 in the journal of traditional medicine from Zhejiang, China, where seven out of twelve patients who were treated using the ointment alone were cured completely, while three patients improved significantly, at the same time two of the patients did not respond very well to the treatment using the ointment. Four to nine applications of the ointment needed to be used to bring relief in those cases where the treatment was successful.
The cayenne pepper can easily cure soreness in the throat of patients, according to many naturopathic physicians; the worst pain imaginable during a sore throat can be treated with great effectiveness using the cayenne based herbal remedies. Herbalists say that such physical relief from the sore throat can persist for up to four hours at a time following treatment. The suggestion of these naturopath physicians is for use a gargling mixture of some lemon juice, with cayenne pepper and some salt - this mixture can be used to gargle during a sore throat to alleviate the pain. The possibility of viral infection is also negated by this simple formula, at the same time that it is beating back the pain. An astringent quality is given to this remedy by the addition of the sour citrus juice of the lemon or lime, the presence of the sour citrus brings about the shrinkage in the swollen membranes of the throat and aids in the rapid removal of accumulated mucus in the throat. Bacterial growth and multiplication is inhibited by the presence of the salt in the mixture, the warm and moist places of the body like the throat are otherwise very good places for bacterial multiplication and growth.
At the pain clinic of the Toronto General Hospital, Canada, researchers found a new method of treating the prolonged cases of shingles in patients some time ago. These researchers found that the disease tended to include a chronic phase characterized by severe persistent pain known as post-herpetic neuralgia in about 15% of the cases. In this particular phase, the patient is so severely affected that the slightest touch of a bed sheet can cause a lot of pain - resting for any length of time becomes a near impossibility. However, the use of a capsaicinoid based topical cream developed by the researchers on the affected areas of the body of patients' with shingles led to the sensitization of skin, at least fifty six per cent of the patients in the test reported a significant reduction in the pain they felt, while seventy eight per cent of the patients in the test spoke of a slight decrease in the painful symptoms on application of the cream.
Though devoid of scientifically validated proof, some clinical studies conducted on different test patients point to the fact that the inclusion of small amounts of cayenne pepper and other varieties of chilies in the daily diet regularly may aid in significantly lowering the risk of individuals ever suffering from pathogen induced disorders of the respiratory system and there seemed to be a much reduced chance of being affected by viral induced pneumonia - such effects can only be attributed to the presence of capsaicin in the peppers and chilies. The onset of infections in the respiratory system also seems to be curtailed by capsaicin, while the actual mechanism is not fully understood by researchers, the compound capsaicin some how boosts and strengthens the lungs by promoting the natural defenses of the human immune system. The presence of high amounts of the essential vitamin C in chili peppers may perhaps be responsible for the occurrence of this particular phenomenon, added to the effects of the capsaicin, the high vitamin C content may be able to significantly boost the performance of the immune system in the body. In the early parts of the 1930’s, the late Hungarian scientist Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi researched the properties of the cayenne pepper, particularly the paprika, during the course of these investigations, the scientist discovered and then managed to isolate the important nutrient vitamin C, the discovery would go on to result in a Nobel Prize in medicine for him. The vitamin C content found in chilies is over all significantly much more per unit weight of the nutrient than that found in oranges or in grapefruits and other citruses. To guard against the dreaded vitamin C disease called scurvy, British sailors or “limeys” carried on voyages pickled lime, many Spanish sailors beginning from the 16th century on preferred taking with them large amounts of pickled peppers as they could be stored in the voyage - this is a good and probable explanation for the high content of vitamin C in peppers. The vitamin C present in the lime and the chilies prevented the disorder called scurvy, a very common deficiency disease on long voyages in the old days.
The temperature regulation center in the human body is altered by the presence of the compound capsaicin, the presence of capsaicin in the body also leads to the stimulation of the circulation system. The compound capsaicin has often been used in the past as a local analgesic, due to its effect of desensitizing the local nerve endings when it is applied on to the skin. Potent antibiotic properties are believed to be possessed by the compounds called capsicidins present in the seeds of the cayenne pepper.
In disorders such as impaired circulation and related diseases in the body, the heating qualities possessed by the herb makes it an extremely valuable all round remedy. The particular value of cayenne lies in the fact that it has a tendency to promote the flow of blood to the hands and feet and improves general circulation within the central organs of the body.
The cayenne also has a mild local analgesic effect when it is topically applied on the skin. A distinct rubefacient property is also evident in the cayenne, the pepper aids in bringing an increase in the blood flow to the troubled areas of the body, a factor that aids in the stimulation of impaired circulation during disorders such as "cold" rheumatic and arthritic conditions, this property of the cayenne enables it to help in the rapid elimination of accumulated waste products in the body and leads to an increase in the flow of nutrients to all the tissues in the body of a person. Unbroken skin in case of chilblains can also be treated using the cayenne herbal remedy. Aside from these uses, the traditional herbal remedy for those susceptible to suffer from persistent cold feet is to put cayenne herbal remedy in the socks.
Digestion can be promoted by taking the herbal cayenne remedy, the remedy aids in increasing the secretion of the digestive juices and also aids in relieving excess abdominal gases and colic at the same time. Infection present in the digestive system can be effectively countered by taking the cayenne remedy, at the same time, the cayenne remedy also aids in the prevention of various infections from taking a hold on the digestive system of the individual. Sore throats can be effectively treated making a throat gargle from a single pinch of the cayenne. Though it may sound unlikely, at least some types of diarrhea can also be treated using the cayenne based remedies.
Other medical uses
Homeopathy, Addictions, Lung cancer, Osteoarthritis, Tension headache.
HABITAT AND CULTIVATION
The cayenne is a species of new world peppers, it was originally found in a native condition only in the tropical regions of the American continent. At this time, the plant is widely cultivated in many tropical regions of the world, particularly in the tropics of Africa and India - these areas are ideal for growing peppers. The cayenne plant grows well in hot and moist conditions with plenty of sunshine, the plant is propagated using stored seed during early spring. Peppers are harvested from the plant during the summer, when they are fully ripe, these collected peppers are then dried in the shade and stored for future use and sale.
Cayenne contains alkaloids, fatty acids, flavonoids, vitamins A, B1, C, volatile oil, sugars, carotene pigment.
The typical capsaicin content in the commonly marketed topical creams is about 0.025 to 0.075% of the compound - this is the commercial content level of capsaicin preferred for use in the homeopathic herbal creams. Initial application of the topical homeopathic cream usually bring on a burning sensation the first few times, this sensation gradually decreases with time following each use of the cream. Following the initial use of the topical cream, hands must be carefully and rigorously washed using plenty of soap and water, wearing gloves may also help in some cases. It is also very essential to prevent the cream from accidentally getting into sensitive areas of the body such as the eyes, the nose, or the mouth - as it can lead to great burning sensation in such areas if they come into contact with the cream. Areas of the body with broken or torn skin must not be rubbed with the cream at any time. A cayenne tincture in the amount of 0.3-1 ml can be applied thrice every day as a treatment against topical conditions.
SIDE EFFECTS AND CAUTIONS
Some precautions need to be taken when using cayenne based herbal remedies. During the initial stage of use, when applying for the first few times, the cayenne can induce a mild burning sensation, the burning sensation may even be quite severe if the cayenne remedy is accidentally applied to very sensitive areas of the body, such as the eyes of the person -aside from such minor irritation, the capsaicin cream induces no severe side effects in the body. Internal ulcers can be caused by very high intake of the cayenne, however, the full benefits are usually not achievable by taking the minimal or sensible dose, and dosages need to be hiked for real benefits in most cases. Allergies can develop in people from any substance on the face of the earth, for this reason, similar to all other applications meant for use on the skin, only a small spot on the skin of the person must be rubbed initially with the cayenne cream to check for irritation and allergic reactions, this is a precautionary measure as some individuals may have an allergic reaction to the cream.
INFUSION – An herbal infusion can be made from the cayenne peppers. This remedy is very simple to prepare and can be done quickly by using a cup of boiling water and mixing half a tsp of cayenne to the water. This solution must be diluted further by adding more hot water - the dilute cayenne infusion can be sipped as and when required. The infusion is excellent for dealing with the symptoms of various colds and strong chills in the body, it can be used to warm cold hands and feet in patients, it can also be taken as a warming drink by individuals suffering from shock, or long term depression. The functioning of the digestive system can also be stimulated by drinking two to three drops of the undiluted infusion before the daily meals.
TINCTURE – Cayenne can also be used to prepare a strong herbal tincture, which can be used to as a general tonic and to stimulate sluggish circulation in the body. Prepare the cayenne tincture by diluting five to ten drops of the infusion in half a cup of hot water - this tincture can be taken as and when required by patients.
COMPRESS – The cayenne infusion can also be used in the preparation of an herbal compress. A compress pad can be soaked in the infusion, and this pad can be placed on affected areas of the body for the treatment of all kinds of sprains and rheumatic pains and used in cases of bruising on the skin.
OINTMENT – The infusion of the cayenne can also be used as an herbal ointment, for problems such as chilblains, but this must only be done if the skin remains unbroken in the affected area.
GARGLE – Throat problems can be treated by gargling with a solution of the cayenne tincture in which five to ten drops of herbal tincture has been mixed in half a glass of warm water. Deficient and weakened conditions are ideally treated using this herbal cayenne remedy.
INFUSED OIL – A water bath can be used to heat up 25 g of cayenne powder in half a liter of sunflower oil, for two hours to prepare the herbal infused oil of cayenne. This infused cayenne oil can be applied to the skin around a varicose ulcer - care should be taken not to apply the oil on the ulcer itself - this application of the oil will encourage the blood in the area to circulate away from the area and promote healing of the ulcer.
MASSAGE OIL – Disorders such as rheumatism, back pain and lumbago, and arthritis can be treated by using the infused cayenne oil as massage oil - the oil can be rubbed into the affected areas of the body for maximum relief from pain and symptoms.
8 large sweet peppers
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 onions, peeled and slivered
3/4 lb. ground lamb
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small bay leaf
1/4 tsp. thyme
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbs. butter
2 tsp. fresh basil, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat over to 350°.
Wash, core, and seed the peppers, and cut off the tops. Boil the peppers and tops rapidly in water to cover, for 5 minutes. Drain well.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions until lightly browned. Add the meat and brown, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook until the tomatoes are pulpy, but not dry. Add the cooked rice, and mix well. Remove from the heat.
Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture, and replace the caps. Place in an oiled baking dish, and bake 10 to 20 minutes - 20 if the peppers are very thick. During the last few minutes of cooking time, heat the tomato sauce, melt the butter into it, season with fresh basil, and pour over the peppers before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.
HOT MEXICAN CHILI WITH PEPPERS
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 lb. ground beef
6 hot peppers
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tsp. minced fresh oregano, or 1 tsp. dried
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy kettle, and sauté the onions, sweet peppers, and garlic, until the onions are transparent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the kidney beans, and simmer while you seed and chop the hot peppers. Add the ground meat, chili peppers, tomato sauce, oregano, and salt to taste. Mash the beans into the liquid to thicken it. When the meat is cooked, turn off the heat and let the dish stand for an hour before serving.
I'll be trying these recipes out soon! Have a great day!