Some of us are already hooked on the pep from this pepper, but did you know that cayenne – the chili that gives zing so many of our favorite dishes – is also a potent natural medicine that’s been used for thousands of years?
The chemical that gives this pepper its bite – and its amazing healthy qualities – is called capsaicin.
A common ingredient in both natural preparations and drug-store variety creams, ointments and transdermal patches for muscle aches and pains, capsaicin is a natural analgesic. Its anti-inflammatory qualities make it good for relieving the itching redness of psoriasis.
Rich in vitamins A and C, cayenne has long been known as an internal disinfectant and detoxifier known for knocking out a range of ailments including symptoms associated with cold and flu and can be an excellent throat calmer when gargled.
Cayenne may also be your heart’s best friend. According to New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) website on medicinal plants of the south west United States, capsaicin can:
- thin blood and reduce the risk of stroke
- stop heart attacks
- increase heart action without increasing blood pressure
Further, they say, diabetics can use it to lower blood sugar levels. If you’d like to read more about the cultivation, history and medical uses of cayenne, take a look at this link from NMSU: http://medplant.nmsu.edu/capsicum.shtm
According to physician and Ayurvedic doctor Deepak Chopra’s Chopra Center, cayenne helps balance Kapha doshas. “Use pungent spices like pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger freely in your diet,” they write on their page.
You can visit their page on tips for Kapha doshas if you’d like more information: http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/tips/kapha-dosha
As if all that wasn’t already a lot for one’s plate, this webMD article looks at some of the latest research on cayenne and weight loss: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20110427/cayenne-pepper-may-burn-calories-curb-appetite
To sum it up, it seems that research is showing cayenne pepper burns calories and curbs appetite.
So if you happen to be looking for a novel way to spice up your routine, try this great smoothie featuring – you guessed it – the peppery punch of cayenne.
Strawberry Cayenne Breakfast Smoothie
Gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy, and Paleo, even.
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp raw alfalfa grass powder (or green powder)
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 2 cups (or approx.) kale leaves
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tbsp bee pollen granules
- 1 1/2 cups coconut water, almond milk, or water
- Handful of ice
Blend all ingredients in your blender. Taste and adjust honey, water, or cinnamon as needed.