Capsicums are a genus of plants from the night shade Solanaecae family. Capsicums are used in both cooking and healing around the world. C. annuum and C. frutescens species are mostly used in cooking but others are used as well.
Cayenne, C. annuum, is a perennial shrub that likes warm climates, but it is also widely cultivated around the world as an annual. According to the American Spice Trade Association, the name cayenne is misleading since several different peppers are called cayenne. Red pepper is a more accurate name according to them, and it its powdered form it is referred to as red pepper as well.
According to experts like Steven Horne, capsicum is a major stimulant for the circulatory system and has earned a reputation as a "cure-all" in the West. Horne also mentions that capsicum is very useful for trauma, shock and heart attacks. Both Horne and Lepore. N.D, say capsicum can be used internally and externally for wound healing. The powder can be sprinkled on bleeding wounds to stop bleeding. It has also historically been used for pain, poor circulation, congestion, fever, infections, shock and colds just to mention a few uses.
Some therapeutic properties are: analgesic, anti-arthritic, coagulant, anti-coagulant, hypotensive, stimulant, vulnerary, diaphoretic, hemostatic, stomachic.
Capsicum act as a catalyst herb in herbal combinations and is therefore included in many formulas for female complaints, thyroid balance, infections, arthritic relief, respiratory blends, and male tonics. It's stimulant property increases the circulation which enhance the digestion, and the herbs are absorbed faster and made more effective.
The main active ingredient in capsicums is the alkaloid called capsaicin, which is pungent and bitter. It has anti-bacterial properties since it is a phenolic chemical. Pure capsaicin is toxic and even one drop would burn right a whole right through you. The alkaloids capsicine also present are responsible for the stimulant action.
Read more about capsaicin's unique anti-inflammatory effect that is now of interest to scientist due to its value in obesity related diseases.
The amount of capsaicin in each pepper is measured in parts per million which is converted into Scoville units. It shows how many times you have to dilute it until the liquid is no longer hot when tasting it. So, peppers with a higher amount of capsaicin are hotter, naturally the more capsaicin the hotter the pepper. Habaneras are the hottest peppers with a Scoville units of 100, 000- 400,000, followed by the Jamaican peppers and Scotch Bonnets at 60,000-250,000 Scoville units. Powdered cayenne "only" has 30,000-50,000 Scoville units.
It is not hard to include capsicums and take advantage of the healing benefits of capsaicin. Start by adding peppers to your cooking, make fresh salsa, make hot sauces, sprinkle on food, add to stews and spaghetti sauces for example. You can also take supplements if you don't like hot food. Start slowly and remember it can irritate your skin.
If you want to know how cayenne promotes thermogenesis go to our company blog, Naturally Sports & Wellness.
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