The health benefits of cayenne pepper, also know as mirchi, include weight loss, good digestion, strong immunity, good blood circulation, and the fact that it functions as a treatment for heart diseases, dyspepsia, inflammation, headaches, and throat congestion.
Cayenne pepper belongs to the Capsicum family and its botanical name is Capsicum annuum. It is the red or green chili pepper that is used to add spicy flavor to foods throughout the world. Cayenne contains vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, carotenoids and the complete B complex. It is also a source of calcium, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.
Cayenne pepper is an integral part of many recipes in India. This herb, which came to India in the 16th century, has become so popular that many people in the villages eat bhakri (bread made of cereals) with a paste of cayenne pepper. Though this is not good for long term health, it is a staple food for many people in rural India.
Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
The medicinal or health benefits of the Cayenne pepper include the following.
Rheumatic and Arthritic Pain: The topical application of cayenne pepper causes irritation in the applied area, thus helping to distract the nerves from joint pains due to arthritis.
Good for the Stomach: A diet containing cayenne pepper helps to avoid stomach aches, gas, and cramps. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine recommends mirchi for proper digestion as it stimulates the flow of stomach secretions and saliva.
Sore Throat: It is said that water mixed with cayenne pepper can be used to gargle when you have a sore throat. However, many people prefer not to use it as it is very spicy.
Improves Blood Circulation: When any body part is sick, the blood flow to that area is usually affected. Cayenne helps to remove that entire blotch, stimulates the blood flow, makes sure that the vitamins are properly delivered to all areas, and guarantees that waste is removed.
Avoid Congestion: Capsaicin stimulates secretions, which helps to clear the mucus from the nose and lungs by clearing the sinuses and causing sweating. Often, in villages in India, if a person is congested in the nose or chest/lungs, some extra mirchi is added to their regular vegetables (bahji) to make them extra spicy. Tea mixed with cayenne pepper is believed to be good for treating conditions of cold and flu.
Heart Disease: There has been some research that proves that giving cayenne extract orally to a patient can help to stop heart attacks. Cayenne helps to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and helps to dissolve fibrin, which causes the formation of blood clots. It also reduces triglyceride levels.
Cures Headaches: Smelling cayenne helps to cure headaches.
Boosts Immunity: The Vitamin A, also known as beta-carotene, in cayenne pepper gives protection against invading pathogens by helping the development of healthy mucus membranes in the nasal passage, lungs, and urinary tracts, thereby providing immunity against infections.
Helps Reduce Weight: Cayenne added to food helps you lose weight with proper digestion. Therefore, it also reduces excess appetite due to inefficient absorption of nutrients. On another note, when you eat food that has some extra spicy mirchi, you tend to drink more water, which can definitely help you lose a bit of weight, and flush your system out!
Good Antioxidant: The beta-carotene found in cayenne pepper works as a good antioxidant that prevents or repairs the damage caused by free radicals. Therefore, it prevents atherosclerosis and colon cancer.
Precaution: Like all other foods or herbs, we must be careful when using this herb. Excess consumption may cause burning sensations in the throat, stomach, or rectum.