Herbal Meds

Using Cayenne as an herbal painkiller

Cayenne has been used for centuries to add a spicy and fiery taste to food and Native Americans used it as a spice and a painkiller for over 9000 years.  This pepper is a cousin of the sweet peppers generally used in salads as well as the hot peppers used in chilli powder and hot sauces.  It has no relation to common black pepper.

What gives the pepper its hot taste and value as an herbal medicine, is capsaicin, which is an oily chemical that is used in pepper sprays that are sold for self-defence.  The capsaicin is also responsible for the pepper's pain relieving properties and aids digestion.

Cayenne also contains vitamins A and C, and flavonoids and carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants.

When applied topically, cayenne has powerful pain relieving properties.  It works by reducing a component in nerve cells called substance P, which transmits pain impulses to the brain.  When substance P is depleted, messages of pain no longer reach the brain and the user gets temporary relief from the pain of arthritis and even shingles.

Capsaicin creams will bring relief to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis as well as joint or muscle pain.  Nerve pain caused by shingles will also be relieved when applying a cayenne herbal cream. Using a cayenne topical ointment will relieve nerve damage experienced in the feet or legs (peripheral neuropathy) due to diabetes and people who have had an amputation often find relief from lingering pain after surgery.  

The itching sensation that accompanies psoriasis follows the same nerve pathways as that of pain.  When applied topically, cayenne herbal creams may reduce the itching associated with psoriasis.  Raynaud's disease is characterized by numbness, tingling and a drop in temperature in the affected areas.  Cayenne creams have a "heating" effect on the affected areas and so relieves the aches and pain associated with this disease.

Cayenne herbal supplements can be used to treat mild high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. Herbal medicines containing cayenne prevent platelets from clumping together and accumulating in the blood, which allows blood to flow more easily.

Based on recent studies, cayenne is being researched as a weight-loss supplement.  In animal studies and some human studies it has shown to affect the way the body breaks down carbohydrates, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels after a meal.

Tablets and capsules containing cayenne stimulate digestion and can help to relieve wind and ulcers.  Herbal supplements containing this herbal remedy increases blood flow in the stomach and bowel and promotes the secretion of digestive juices.  

Cayenne herbal remedies are also available in liquid form and can be used as a gargle to soothe the pain and inflammation of a sore throat.  Nose sprays containing cayenne have been shown to relieve congestion and fight colds, and some people find relief from the severe pain of cluster headaches.  These herbal medicines should only be used under a health care practitioner's supervision.

Herbal medicines containing capsaicin can be safely used with prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and other medications to relieve pain associated with arthritic conditions.  Combining cayenne herbal preparations may help to cut down on the use of prescription medicines, which can lessen unwanted side-effects of conventional medicines.  This should only be done under the supervision of your health care practitioner.

What are the side effects of Cayenne?

Please consult your medical practitioner prior to using any herbal medications should you be under their care.

Never use cayenne products on raw skin or open wounds as this will cause a severe burning sensation.

Cayenne herbal creams can cause intense pain and burning when it comes into contact with your eyes.  Wash the affected areas with water or milk to counteract the burning.  

A mildly unpleasant burning sensation can occur during the first few days of treatment.  This side effect does disappear after several days or regular use.

People who use anti-coagulant medicine such as Warfarin, should not take cayenne herbal supplements as it will enhance the effects of blood thinning medication.

If taken internally, cayenne herbal medications can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea.  Capsaicin can also cause a burning sensation when passing stool.

People suffering from asthma should avoid cayenne herbal supplements as regular use increases the absorption of theophylline which is a medication used to treat asthma.

Pregnant and lactating women should not take cayenne herbal remedies.

How do I use Cayenne?

Cayenne products can cause skin sensitivity, so it is recommended that you apply the cream or ointment to a small area for at least 1 week, should you experience no undesired side effects, you can continue regular use of the herbal medicine.

Make sure that you wash your hands very well with warm, soapy water to avoid getting the product into your eyes.  If you are applying the herbal cream to relieve pain in your hands, leave it on for 30 minutes and then only wash it off.

For external use, the recommended dosage of cayenne herbal creams or ointments is 0,025 per cent to 0,075 per cent capsaicin for daily use.  For pain relief, apply the herbal remedy thinly over the affected areas at least three to four times a day, rubbing it in well.  It may take 2-3 weeks for the pain to completely subside.

It is best to take cayenne pills or tinctures with food to avoid any stomach upsets.  

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