Fiercely hot and pungent, cayenne pepper is one of the widely used spice items in many cuisines. Cayenne fruits are slender, elongated pods obtained from the capsicum family plant.
The Cayenne variety of chili pepper plant is native to the Central American region where it employed as a spicy ingredient in the cuisine for several thousand years. It was introduced to the rest of the world, especially to the Indian subcontinent, by Spanish and Portuguese explorers during 16th and 17th centuries. They are now one of the important commercial crops grown in India, Pakistan, China, Argentina, and the USA.
Botanically, cayenne plant belongs to the nightshade family of Solanaceae, in the genus; capsicum. Scientific name: Capsicum annuum var. annuum.
Cayenne pepper is a small perennial shrub, reaching about 90-100 cm in height. It prefers well drained sandy soil and warm climate. Its woody stem with numerous branches covered with thick dark-green foliage. Small creamy-white flowers appear all over the bush which subsequently develop into long, slender, glossy bright green color fruits (pods). The fruits finally attain mature status when they turn deep-red color.
Interiorly, each cayenne fruit features numerous tiny, flat, disk-shaped, off-white or cream colored seeds. The seeds are actually clinging on to the central white placenta.
In general, the cayenne chili peppers are allowed to ripen completely on the plant itself and hand picked upon reaching maturity and turned red. They are then left to dry, which causes them to shrivel.
Cayenne chilies have a strong spicy taste that comes to them from the active alkaloid compounds’ capsaicin, capsanthin, and capsorubin. The hotness of cayenne measured in “Scoville heat units” (SHU). On the Scoville scale, cayenne pepper has 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. On comparison scale, bell peppers have “zero” SHU.
17 Amazing Benefits
1. Anti-Irritant Properties
Cayenne has the ability to ease upset stomach, ulcers, sore throats, spasmodic and irritating coughs, and diarrhea.
2. Clears Congestion
Suffering from stuffed up sinuses due to cold, flu, or allergies? Cayenne pepper aids in breaking up and moving congested mucus.
3. Anti-Fungal Properties
In vitro tests have found that CAY-1, a compound found in cayenne peppers, effectively suppressed the development of 16 different fungal strains, while remaining completely non-toxic to animal cells.
4. Migraine Headache Prevention
This may be related to the pepper’s ability to stimulate a pain response in a different area of the body, thus diverting the brain’s attention to the new site. Following this initial pain reaction, the nerve fibers have a depleted substance P (the nerve’s pain chemical), and the perception of pain is lessened.
5. Digestive Aid
Cayenne is a well-known digestive aid. It stimulates the digestive tract, increasing the flow of enzyme production and gastric juices. This aids the body’s ability to metabolize food (and toxins). Cayenne pepper is also helpful for relieving intestinal gas. It stimulates intestinal peristaltic motion, aiding in both assimilation and elimination.
6. Anti-Redness Properties
Cayenne’s properties make it a great herb for many chronic and degenerative conditions.
7. Helps Produce Saliva
Cayenne stimulates the production of saliva, an important component of digestion and maintaining optimal oral health.
8. Useful for Blood Clots
Cayenne pepper helps reduce atherosclerosis, encourages fibrinolytic activity, and prevents factors that lead to the formation of blood clots, all of which can help reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke.
9. Detox Support
Cayenne is a known circulatory stimulant. It increases the pulse of our lymphatic and digestive rhythms. By heating the body, the natural process of detoxification is streamlined. Cayenne also induces sweating—another important process of detoxification. Combined with lemon juice and honey, cayenne tea is an excellent morning beverage for total body detox.
10. Joint Pain Relief
Extremely high in a substance called capsaicin, cayenne pepper sends chemical messengers from the skin into the joint, offering relief for joint pain.
11. Anti-Bacterial Properties
Cayenne is an excellent preservative and has been used traditionally to prevent food contamination from bacteria.
12. Promotes Longevity
A study using data collected from almost half a million people found that people who eat spicy foods have a 14% chance of living longer than those that don’t. Researchers also found that regular consumption of chili peppers aligned with reduced rates of death from respiratory disease, heart problems, cancer.
13. Supports Weight Loss
Scientists at the Laval University in Quebec found that participants who took cayenne pepper for breakfast were found to have less appetite, leading to less caloric intake throughout the day. Cayenne is also a great metabolic booster and aids the body in burning excess fat.
14. Promotes Heart Health
Animal studies found that capsaicin reduced serious heart arrhythmias and improved cardiac blood flow.
15. Remedy for Toothache
When applied directly to the site, cayenne may help ease pain of a sore tooth.
16. Topical Remedy
As a poultice, cayenne has been used to treat snake bites, rheumatism, sores, wounds, and lumbago. More research is needed to determine it’s effectiveness.
17. Cayenne Tastes Great
This one is purely subjective, and those with sensitive palates may disagree, but many people find that a dash cayenne can add a little delicious zest to otherwise bland food.