Enchiladas. Chili. Sloppy Joe. What do these dishes all have in common? Besides being insanely popular meals, these meals all have cayenne pepper.
Cayenne pepper is perhaps one of the most well-known hot spices in America today. However, few modern Americans know of its surprising health benefits. For centuries, Chinese and Native American cultures lauded the spice for its antimicrobial and health stimulating properties. Today, more and more people are becoming reacquainted with this superfood. Packed with vitamins C, B6 and E, cayenne pepper is a powerful antioxidant that relieves pain, burns fat and aids in digestion.
Cayenne Pepper for Pain Management
It may strike you as counter-intuitive to use cayenne pepper for your body’s aches and pains. However, cayenne pepper can be more effective than an ice pack in soothing common ailments. In addition to making the spice hot, capsaicin—the main ingredient in cayenne pepper—doubles as a pain reducer. This spicy, active ingredient has been shown to give excellent relief in patients intolerant of more traditional pain medications. When applied topically to the skin, capsaicin shoots chemical messages through the skin and into the joints, helping your body relieve aches and pains. The cream can also aid in alleviating toothaches, bites, sores, and wounds. But, you don’t have to buy the cream to reap the benefits. Cayenne pepper, when taken internally, reduces inflammation.
Cayenne Pepper for Weight Loss
A slimmer waist can be less than a teaspoon away—literally. Use of cayenne pepper is linked to weight loss. In fact, studies have shown the spicier your diet, the less likely you are to be overweight. Just ½ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper with a meal suppresses appetite and burns calories. The spice can work while you’re inactive. According to research at Purdue University, cayenne consumers burned 10 more calories than non-consumers four hours after eating. Additionally, scientists at Laval University found that cayenne consumers had less appetite throughout the day, and consumed fewer calories overall.
Like most other hot spices, cayenne pepper boosts metabolism, making it an effective fat burner. In popular culture, combinations like water and cayenne pepper have been used in fad diets, such as The Master Cleanse.
Cayenne Pepper for Tummy Trouble
Beyond diet, you may want to reach for cayenne pepper the next time your stomach aches. Tests prove cayenne pepper remedies common ailments of the gastrointestinal tract. Combined with lemon juice, the spice is commonly used for gas, upset stomach and diarrhea to provide fast and effective relief. Cayenne pepper has even been shown to alleviate cramps and other menstruation woes in women. The spice aids the digestive tract in other ways. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper boosts enzyme flow and gastric juice production for a healthier digestive tract. Even before it reaches the stomach, cayenne pepper stimulates saliva production, which is essential for an optimally functional gut.
Despite what you may have heard, the benefits of cayenne peppers extend way beyond adding flavor to bland dishes. And because of its powdered form, the spice is relatively easy to incorporate into your everyday life. Whether drinking cayenne pepper with water or lemon juice or putting the spice on a hot meal for an added kick, anyone can start to enjoy the benefits of cayenne pepper.