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Clayton's Health Facts: Cayenne.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.

What Is It?
And Where Does It Come From?

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens) is a plant native to South America and is a member of the pepper family. Cayenne contains a capsicum oleoresin as well as potassium and vitamin C.1, 2, 3

Cayenne Peppers.
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Cayenne may also be known by the following names: African Pepper, Bird Pepper, Capsicum annuum, Chili Pepper, Goat's Pod, Grains of Paradise, Mexican Chillies, Paprika, Red Pepper, Sweet Pepper, Tabasco Pepper, Zanzibar Pepper.

Cayenne may be obtained from the diet, or by supplementation (capsules, fresh or dried peppers, powder or tea).

What Does It Do?
And What Scientific Studies Give Evidence To Support This?

Cayenne is widely used as a flavoring agent for food. Many people find that its spicy flavor enriches the eating experience.

Cayenne (in various forms) has been used successfully for medical purposes. For example, when applied topically cayenne (capisicum) containing products are effective for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy4, 5, 6 psoriasis7, and pain from shingles8, 9 and fibromyalgia10. Cayenne assists with pain relief by acting as a counter-irritant (by opposing existing pain signals and blocking their transmission along the spine). Evidence also suggests that cayenne (taken in capsual format) provides relief from colic, gas, indigestion, poor appetite, colds, fever, headaches11, 12 and general pain.

Cayenne has antifungal properties, and acts against candida bacteria13 and other forms of bacteria.14,15 It is effective in stopping the growth of some cancers16, 17 and consumption of cayenne has been correlated with lower occurances of stomach-cancer18, although newer research calls this correlation into question.19

It is used widely as an effective treatment for reducing the severity of heartburn symptoms, and can even be effective for speeding weight loss.20, 21 Cayenne is also used in agriculture. It has been shown to be useful at deterring rodents that destroy crops.22

Who Needs It?
And What Are Some Symptoms Of Deficiency?

Everyone can benefit from supplementing with cayenne (through oral ingestion or topical application).

Persons desiring to reduce oxidative stress (athletes and others) and lose weight may benefit from supplementing with cayenne. Anyone with arthritic pain or general body soreness can benefit from the relief that a topical cayenne cream provides.

How Much Should Be Taken?
And Are There Any Side Effects?

Follow the directions as prescribed on the products label.

Persons with ulcers, heartburn or gastritis should use any cayenne-containing product cautiously as it may worsen their condition. Persons suffering from IBS (Irratable Bowl Syndrome) should not, under any circumstances, supplement with capsicum / cayenne as this may exacerbate the symptoms of their condition.23

Products containing cayenne / capsicum should not be applied to broken skin, nor should cayenne / capsicum products be applied to genitals, mucus membranes or surrounding sensitive areas.

Some persons may experience allergic reactions to using cayenne, and some using asparin may also experience adverse symptoms as cayenne interacts with asparin. Should these rare symptoms manifest, discontinue product use immediately and consult a physician.

Where can I get it?

There are different brand names that manufacture supplemental cayenne.


1. Ochi T, Takaishi Y, Kogure K, Yamauti I.Antioxidant activity of a new capsaicin derivative from Capsicum annuum. J Nat Prod. 2003 Aug;66(8):1094-6.

2. Rosa A, Deiana M, Casu V, Paccagnini S, Appendino G, Ballero M, Dessi MA. Antioxidant activity of capsinoids. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 4;50(25):7396-401.
3. Chu YF, Sun J, Wu X, Liu RH. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common vegetables. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Nov 6;50(23):6910-6.
4. Bortolotti M, Coccia G, Grossi G. Red pepper and functional dyspepsia. N Engl J Med 2002;346:947…quot;8 [letter].
5. Capsaicin study group. Treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy with topical capsaicin. A multicenter, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study. The capsaicin study group. Arch Int Med 1991;151:2225…quot;9.
6. Capsaicin study group. Effect of treatment with capsaicin on daily activities of patients with painful diabetic neuropathy. The capsaicin study group. Diabet Care 1992;15:159…quot;65.
7. Bernstein JE, Parish LC, Rapaport M, et al. Effects of topically applied capsaicin on moderate and severe psoriasis vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol 1986;15:504…quot;7.
8. Watson CP, Tyler KL, Bickers DR, et al. A randomized vehicle-controlled trial of topical capsaicin in the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia. Clin Ther 1993;15:510…quot;26.
9. Watson CP, Evans RJ, Watt VR. Postherpetic neuralgia and topical capsaicin. Pain 1988;33:333…quot;40.
10. McCarty DJ, Csuka M, McCarthy G, et al. Treatment of pain due to fibromyalgia with topical capsaicin: A pilot study. Semin Arth Rhem 1994;23:41…quot;7.
11. Marks DR, Rapoport A, Padla D, et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of intranasal capsaicin for cluster headache. Cephalalgia 1993;13:114…quot;6.
12. Levy RL. Intranasal capsaicin for acute abortive treatment of migraine without aura. Headache 1995;35:277 [letter].
13. Renault S, De Lucca AJ, Boue S, Bland JM, Vigo CB, Selitrennikoff CP. CAY-1, a novel antifungal compound from cayenne pepper. Med Mycol. 2003 Feb;41(1):75-81.
14. Careaga M, Fernandez E, Dorantes L, Mota L, Jaramillo ME, Hernandez-Sanchez H. Antibacterial activity of Capsicum extract against Salmonella typhimurium and Pseudomonas aeruginosa inoculated in raw beef meat. Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Jun 25;83(3):331-5.
15. Renault S, De Lucca AJ, Boue S, Bland JM, Vigo CB, Selitrennikoff CP. CAY-1, a novel antifungal compound from cayenne pepper. Med Mycol. 2003 Feb;41(1):75-81.
16. Morre DJ, Morre DM. Synergistic Capsicum-tea mixtures with anticancer activity. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2003 Jul;55(7):987-94.
17. Zhang J, Nagasaki M, Tanaka Y, Morikawa S. Capsaicin inhibits growth of adult T-cell leukemia cells. Leuk Res. 2003 Mar;27(3):275-83.
18. Buiatti E, Palli D, Decarli A, et al. A case-control study of gastric cancer and diet in Italy. Int J Cancer 1989;44:611…quot;6.
19. Surh YJ, Lee SS. Capsaicin in hot chili pepper: Carcinogen, co-carcinogen or anticarcinogen? Food Chem Toxic 1996;34:313…quot;6.
20. Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Suzuki M, Tremblay A. Effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women. Br J Nutr 1998;80:503…quot;10.
21. Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Drapeau V, et al. Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake. Br J Nutr 1999;82:115…quot;23.
22. Jensen PG, Curtis PD, Dunn JA, Austic RE, Richmond ME.Field evaluation of capsaicin as a rodent aversion agent for poultry feed. Pest Manag Sci. 2003 Sep;59(9):1007-15.
23. Agarwal MK, Bhatia SJ, Desai SA, Bhure U, Melgiri S. Effect of red chillies on small bowel and colonic transit and rectal sensitivity in men with irritable bowel syndrome. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2002 Sep-Oct;21(5):179-82.

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