“Some like it hot…..really hot.” Here I am referring to peppers. It is not for the faint of heart. There is even food eating competition with some of the world’s most hot peppers blended and poured on chicken wings. Competitors huff and puff with tears streaming down their faces as they attempt to clean the plate of the wings. A glass of milk is given only at the end of the competition.
There are several varieties of peppers that have been used by diverse cultures both as an ingredient to enhance the spicy taste of foods as well as a medicinal herb. Cayenne pepper is also known as Bird Pepper, African Pepper, African Bird Pepper, Chili Pepper, and Capsicum.
Ingredients of Cayenne Pepper
The active ingredient in cayenne is capsaicin. The pepper is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C & E, B-complex. The fruit is also a good source of calcium and potassium. The property of capsaicin has made it popular for use in “pepper spray” as it is an irritant to the skin and eyes when it gets in contact with the face.
There are many reported home remedies using the cayenne pepper. The uses are both for internal and topical use. There is now an FDA approved topical cream for pain relief of joint pains. Other reported uses are:
- Used for the common cold as an expectorant to break down mucus
- Soothes sore throat
- Relieves dyspepsia
- Aids digestion
- Enhances blood circulation, and reduces the risk of blood clotting
- Promotes heart health by reducing cholesterol and normalizes blood pressure
- Relieves joint pain
- Supports weight loss
- Inhibits bacterial and fungal growth
Other potential uses being investigated includes the ability of capsaicin to relieve migraine, sinusitis and arrest the cancerous cells of leukemia.
A word of Caution
The question is, how much can one use without causing harm? The fact is that in some cultures there is a very high tolerance for the spicy but “burning sensation” of the cayenne pepper. Outside of these cultures, there are individuals who can subject themselves to very high use of cayenne on foods.
Too much cayenne pepper could result in an increase in heart beat and blood pressure. It has also been warned that the acidity of cayenne pepper could erode the enamel of teeth but cooking reduces the acidity of the pepper.
I continue to enjoy the flavor and will definitely not be sweating and wagging my tongue to cool the ‘heat’ while trying to devour heavily spiced curry goat or chicken wings. The therapeutic uses have certainly peeked my interest.