Cayenne pepper

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File:Large Cayenne.jpg
A large red cayenne

Template:Pepper The Cayenne is a red, hot chili pepper used to flavor dishes, and for medicinal purposes. Named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, it is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeños, and others. The Capsicum genus is in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

The fruits are generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powder, Cayenne pepper.

Cayenne is used in cooking spicy hot dishes, as a powder or in its whole form (such as in Szechuan cuisine) or in a thin, vinegar-based sauce. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units. It is also used as a herbal supplement, and was mentioned by Nicholas Culpeper in his Complete Herbal.

Medicinal Purpose

The potent, hot fruit of cayenne has been used as medicine for centuries.

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 ability.
  • Thermogenic: Cayenne pepper is used both internally and externally in colder climates to protect against frostbite, it may be used in a crushed or powdered form in socks or taken internally in a tea to increase body temperature and circulation to the extremities.[1]

Active components

Cayenne peppers used during the marination of chicken.

Cayenne contains a pungent resin-like substance known as capsaicin. This chemical, the active ingredient of pepper spray or mace, relieves pain and itching by affecting sensory nerves. Capsaicin temporarily causes various neurotransmitters to release from these nerves, leading to their depletion. Without the neurotransmitters, pain signals can no longer be sent. The effect is temporary.

Capsaicin and other constituents in cayenne have been shown to have several other actions, including reducing platelet stickiness and acting as antioxidants.


Cayenne pepper is considered to be misnomer by the American Spice Trade Association, which prefers the more generic term red pepper. Generally speaking any of a number of peppers are called cayenne. Capsicum frutescens can be grown in a variety of locations and needs approximately 100 days to mature. Peppers prefer warm, moist, nutrient-rich soil in a warm climate. The plants grow to about 2-4 feet of height and should be spaced three feet apart.[2]

References and notes

See also

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