The potent, hot fruit of cayenne has been used as medicine for centuries. It has been scientifically proven as the most effective blood stimulant ever discovered. In addition, it has proven endorphin-stimulating properties.Cayenne is a popular spice in many cuisines. It is used fresh, dried and powdered, and as dried flakes. It is also a key ingredient in an assortment of hot sauces, especially those using vinegar as a preservative.
Cayenne contains a substance called capsaicin which is the active ingredient of pepper spray or mace, but in smaller amounts it can actually relieve pain and itching by affecting sensory nerves.Capsaicin temporarily induces neurotransmitters to release from these nerves, resulting in their depletion. Without the neurotransmitters, pain signals can't be sent, but the effect is temporary.
Capsaicin and other components in cayenne have been shown to have several other actions, including reducing platelet stickiness and acting as antioxidants.
Cayenne is a natural vasodilator, which means that it causes blood vessels to widen due to the relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessel walls, particularly in the large arteries, smaller arterioles and large veins. When vessels dilate, the flow of blood is increased due to a decrease in vascular resistance. The dilation of arteries (mainly arterioles) leads to a decrease in blood pressure. The ingestion ofcayenne can have many beneficial effects such as causing near instant warming of the hands and feet on cold days or in people who have reduced circulation in their extremities because it increases the flow of warming blood by opening the blood vessels. The effect is real, not psychological (i.e. others can feel your hand temperature rise and see reddening of the skin and your body will lose heat faster from your extremities). Extreme amounts will cause sweating on the skin
Exploiting these effects, cayenne has been utilized in traditional medicine for centuries in many different ways including as a circulatory system tonic, as a gargle for sore throat, as a digestive tonic for gastrointestinal problems, and as a counter irritant applied to the skin for rheumatic and arthritic pains.
In addition, it has been used for the following problems:
- Gastrointestinal tract including stomachaches, cramping pains, and gas.
- Diseases of the circulatory system It is still traditionally used in herbal medicine as a circulatory tonic.
- Rheumatic and arthritic pains: Rubbed on the skin it causes a counterirritant effect. A counterirritant is something which causes irritation to the area to which it is applied. This makes it distract the nerves from the original irritation (such as joint pain in the case of arthritis).
- Sore throat If gargled with water it can work as an effective treatment for sore throats.
- Styptic Application of cayenne powder has traditionally been considered to have a powerful coagulating activity, and there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to support this.
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