|CAYENNE - Capsicum annuum
Traditional use: immune stimulant, blood cleanser, detoxification, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, digestive stimulant
A very familiar cooking spice, Cayenne is gaining wide recognition as a valuable healing herb as well. Given its pungent taste, it is not surprising that Cayenne acts as a stimulant to the body's tissues and functions.
Cayenne contains more vitamin C than oranges, and its main alkaloid, capsaicin, is a strong killer of bacteria and other pathogens. It works to remove obstructions and increase movement in nearly all bodily systems, and is especially helpful for colds, flu, and related infections and congestion. It increases circulation and, initially, warmth in the body, but also causes sweating which eventually cools, making it valuable for fevers.
The hot bite from capsaicin acts like a strong but actually harmless pain stimulus to the brain, which responds by increasing the secretion of the body's own opiate-like painkillers, making it helpful in painful conditions such as strains and arthritis. Cayenne also acts as a blood thinner, and to carry, potentiate, and catalyze other herbs and medicines with which it is taken.
Since Cayenne is such a strong stimulant, it should not be used by people who are particularly sensitive or easily overheated. It can be helpful or aggravating to inflammatory conditions, especially of the digestive system; working to heal ulcers in some cases and making them worse in others, and so should be used under the guidance of an herbalist in such ailments.