TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT YOUR HOME SPICES – CAYENNE PEPPER
In my previous articles titled TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT YOUR HOME SPICES I gave you a list of 15 of the most common spices that had the ability to multitask.
Meaning they not only aided your culinary efforts, they were either medicinal or could serve some other useful purpose.
In my last article, I went into depth on BASIL, so it’s CAYENNE’S turn now.
CAYENNE, scientific name Capsicum frutescens or C. annuum and sometimes C. minimum is known for its very hot, pungent character. It is a medicinal, nutritional and culinary herb/spice.
The part used is the fruit (the oil is found in the seeds).
The properties or constituents of Cayenne are Alkaloids (capsaicin), Fatty Acids, Flavonoids, Vitamins A and C, Volatile Oil, Sugars, and Carotenoids.
It is a circulatory stimulant, promotes sweating, is a gastric stimulant, a carminative, an antiseptic, an antibacterial, and a stimulating nerve tonic. It’s said that this herb is a great food for the circulatory system in that it feeds the necessary elements into the cell structure of the arteries, veins and capillaries so that these regain the elasticity of youth again, and the blood pressure adjusts itself to normal.
So, what does all this actually mean? Well, if something is listed as a Stimulant that means it will “quicken, excite and increase nervous sensibility; thereby stimulating the functional activity and energy in the body.” (quote from Dr. John R. Christopher). Herbal stimulants increase the power of the pulse and carry blood to every part of the body; in doing this they equalize and restore the balance of circulation in all parts of the body including every organ.
Cayenne can regulate the flow of blood from the head to the feet so that it is equalized; it influences the heart immediately, then gradually extends its effects to the arteries, capillaries, and nerves (note: the frequency of the pulse is NOT increased, but is given more power, as stated above).
Promotes sweating? Who wants to sweat? Everyone needs to sweat, especially at the onset of a cold. By causing the body to sweat, toxins are released, and since Cayenne supports the body’s defense system (being rich in vitamin C – and the fact that it is an antibacterial), sweating that is induced by this herb/spice is definitely something good.
How is it a gastric stimulant? When taken orally, it is believed that cayenne has the ability to stimulate the flow of saliva and stomach secretions, meaning it can be used as a digestive aid. And, in small quantities it can aid in increasing the desire to eat.
What in the world is a carminative? The group of herbs/spices that can be listed as carminatives are ones that contain a volatile oil that excites intestinal peristalsis, and can relieve and promote the expulsion of gas from the gastro-intestinal tract.
Cayenne has been used for various gastrointestinal tract conditions such as alleviating cramps, stomachaches, and even for healing stomach and intestinal ulcers.
It has also been found to be good for throat problems, such as tonsillitis laryngitis, and hoarseness. Some recent research suggests that cayenne can ease the severe pain of shingles
When Cayenne is used as a topical, it is a powerful, local stimulant, producing a burning sensation on contact with the skin. It has been used externally in ointments, liniments and plasters as a counter-irritant to treat muscular pains, arthritis, neuralgia, lumbago and unbroken chilblains.
It is a good antiseptic, so it can be applied to cuts and abrasions to help stop infection.
And on a lighter note, if you shake a bit of the powder into your socks it will keep your feet warm in chilly conditions (like hiking). My mom had cold feet, especially at night and she used to do this all the time to keep her feet warm and comfortable.
This very versatile herb/spice can even stop minor allergic reactions, such as wasp bites, food allergies and so on. Applying a few drops of the tincture topically (in the case of bites) or ingesting several drops to a teaspoon (use water to dilute so it won’t burn your tongue) for food allergies.
I discovered this really worked when my son, who is allergic to pine nuts, did not have his medicine from the doctor with him and accidentally ate some cookies that had pine nuts in them. He started swelling up and was finding it harder and harder to breath. I gave him several drops of cayenne (straight! But it was an emergency…) and the swelling immediately started going down.
From this point on he started carrying a bottle of cayenne tincture with him instead of the expensive stuff prescribed by his doctor. It hasn’t failed him yet.
There are seven different ways to use Cayenne as a medicinal aid.
#6. Infused oil
#7. Massage oil
All in all – cayenne is probably one of the best herb/spices to have on hand. I do keep a jar of tincture in my cupboard at all times. And I do advise that you buy this herb/spice from a health food store, not your local grocery store. It’s fresher. more potent, and less expensive. And we all love less expensive.
The next article will be all about CINNAMON… and in the meantime, I hope you have a great week!