Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper that is commonly used as a spice in cooking. It is made from dried and ground cayenne chili peppers, which are known for their fiery heat and pungent flavor. Cayenne peppers belong to the Capsicum annuum species and are related to other hot peppers like jalapeños and habaneros.

Cayenne pepper is a popular spice known for its fiery heat and bold flavor. It adds a kick to a variety of dishes and is valued for its potential health benefits as well. However, it should be used in moderation, especially by individuals who are sensitive to spicy foods or have digestive issues.

Cayenne Pepper Heat Level

Cayenne pepper is known for its spicy heat, which can range from moderate to very hot on the Scoville scale, a measurement of chili pepper heat. The level of spiciness can vary depending on factors such as the variety of cayenne pepper and how it is processed.

Flavor Profile of Cayenne Pepper

In addition to its heat, cayenne pepper has a distinctive flavor that is described as pungent, earthy and slightly fruity. It adds depth and complexity to dishes and is commonly used to spice up savory foods.

Culinary Uses of Cayenne

Cayenne pepper is a versatile spice that is used in a wide range of cuisines around the world. It can be added to soups, stews, sauces, marinades, rubs and spice blends to add heat and flavor. Cayenne pepper is also used as a seasoning for meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables and snacks like popcorn and roasted nuts.

Cayenne Health Benefits

Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a compound that is responsible for its heat and has been studied for its potential health benefits.

  • A natural fat burner and pain killer with its anti-inflammatory properties. Used as a sore throat gargle and in topical pain relief creams.
  • A stimulating stomach tonic, stimulates the appetite, is a mild stimulant, tonic, boosts metabolism and relieves gas.
  • Good for the kidneys, lungs, spleen, pancreas, heart, stomach and lowers blood pressure.
  • Cayenne is used to heal ulcers and stop the bleeding , improve circulation, boost the immune system, aid digestion by stimulating gastric juices, nausea, scrofula, herpes, shingles, rheumatism, arthritis, Raynaud’s disease, bunions, psoriasis, pleurisy and pericarditis.
  • It is used as a tonic for the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, spleen and stomach, and has been indicated for preventing heart disease. Cayenne can be used as a general stimulant to build up resistance at the beginning of a cold, tonsillitis, laryngitis, hoarseness and for swollen lymph glands.
  • It is known to combat colds and chills.
  • It is also said to increase fertility and delay senility.
  • Recently, cayenne has been used successfully to treat patients with cluster headaches, a particularly painful type of headache. 
  • Studies have also shown that Cayenne Pepper can raise metabolic rates by as much as 25%.
  • Used with Lobelia, it can also help to soothe nerves.

Cayenne Soothing Effect on Rheumatism and Arthritis

Cayenne may be used internally or externally to treat arthritis, bunions, psoriasis, and muscle and joint pain.

Used externally, cayenne liniment may soothe the stiffness and pain of rheumatism and arthritis. The contents of a capsule, or half a teaspoon from a jar of cayenne powder, can simply be added to some moisturiser and then massaged onto the skin. Cayenne can be made into plasters or liniment or the tincture may be applied directly, to increase blood flow to areas afflicted with rheumatism, arthritis, pleuritis or pericarditis.

Cayenne Stimulates the Digestive System

Cayenne can also be taken internally both as capsules and also fresh or dried powder added to food, as an infusion for stomach and bowel pains or cramps. Small quantities of the fresh fruit or the powder may stimulate appetite and expel worms.

Cayenne Can Deter Rats

Rats have a strong sense of smell and taste and do not like the potent smell and taste of Cayenne and Chilli Peppers. Add cayenne or chillies to hot water and leave it to cool and infuse. Then put in a bottle and spray all over the area that you suspect rats are visiting, and this will deter them.

Cayenne Active Ingredients

Cayenne contains: Alkaloids, capsaicin, capsacutin, capsaicin, capsanthine, capsico PABA, fatty acids, flavonoids, sugars, carotene, volatile oil, and vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and vitamin C.

Cayenne is usually mixed with other herbs in medicinal doses.

See also our Chilli Peppers article.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Where to Buy Cayenne


Cayenne Herb Notes / Side Effects

Latin Names

Capsicum annuum, Capsicum minimum, Capsicum frutescens

Common Names

African Pepper, Bird Pepper, Chilli Pepper, Goats Pod, Mexican Chillies, Paprika, Red Pepper, Tabasco Pepper, Zanzibar Pepper

Cayenne Properties

Circulatory stimulant, Appetizer, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, carminative (relieves flatulence), diaphoretic (induces perspiration), febrifuge (alleviate’s fever), rubefacient (produces redness of the skin), condiment, nerve tonic, digestive, irritant, sialagogue (stimulates secretion of saliva), stimulant, and tonic.

Cayenne Uses

Improves circulation and digestion. Helps to prevent heart disease. Combats chills. Weight loss. Boosts Immune system. Herpes, Shingles, Ulcers. Pain-killer. Increase blood flow to areas afflicted with rheumatism and arthritis. Pleuritis. Pericarditis. Bunions. Psoriasis.

Cayenne Precautions

While cayenne pepper is generally safe for most people when consumed in moderation, excessive intake or sensitivity to capsaicin may lead to side effects. Here are some potential side effects of cayenne pepper:

Gastrointestinal Discomfort: Consuming cayenne pepper in large amounts may cause gastrointestinal irritation, leading to symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or heartburn. Individuals with sensitive stomachs or gastrointestinal conditions such as gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may be more prone to experiencing these side effects.

Skin Irritation: Topical application of cayenne pepper or capsaicin-containing creams may cause skin irritation, redness, burning sensation, or itching, especially if applied to broken or sensitive skin. It’s essential to avoid contact with eyes, mucous membranes, and sensitive areas of the body.

Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic or sensitive to cayenne pepper or capsaicin, leading to allergic reactions such as hives, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. People with known allergies to plants in the Solanaceae family, which includes peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes, should exercise caution when consuming cayenne pepper.

Interaction with Medications: Cayenne pepper supplements or capsaicin-containing products may interact with certain medications, including blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants), blood pressure medications, and medications metabolized by the liver. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before using cayenne pepper supplements, especially if taking medications.

Skin Burns: Direct contact with concentrated cayenne pepper or capsaicin extract may cause skin burns or irritation, particularly if applied for an extended period or in high concentrations. It’s crucial to dilute capsaicin products appropriately and follow usage instructions carefully.

Respiratory Irritation: Inhaling cayenne pepper powder or capsaicin-containing aerosols may irritate the respiratory tract, leading to coughing, sneezing, or throat irritation. Individuals with respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be more sensitive to these effects.

Increased Heart Rate: Capsaicin may temporarily increase heart rate or blood pressure in some individuals due to its stimulant properties. People with cardiovascular conditions or hypertension should use cayenne pepper cautiously and monitor their symptoms closely.

While cayenne pepper offers potential health benefits, it’s essential to consume it in moderation and be aware of potential side effects, especially in sensitive individuals or when using concentrated forms of capsaicin. If experiencing severe or persistent side effects after consuming cayenne pepper, it’s advisable to seek medical attention promptly.

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