Cayenne, Capsicum frutescens

Common names: Africa pepper, American pepper, bird pepper, capsicum, chili pepper, cockspur pepper, goat’s pepper, pod pepper, red pepper, Spanish pepper, Zanzibar pepper.

Medicinal Part: Fruit

Description and Growing:

Cayenne is a perennial plant in its native tropical America but is annual when cultivated outside tropical zones. Growing to a height of 3 feet or more, its glabrous stem is woody at the bottom and branched near the top. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate, entire, and petioled. The drooping, white to yellow flowers grow alone or in pairs or threes between April and September. The ripe fruit, or pepper, is a many seeded pod with a leathery outside in various shades of red, green and yellow. Plant in a well drained, sunny location about 12″-18″ apart. after all danger of frost.

Properties and Uses:

Appetizer, digestive, irritant, sialagogue, stimulant, tonic. In powder or tablet form, capsicum is used as a general stimulant and to build up resistance at the beginning of a cold. It can also be taken as an infusion for stomach and bowel pains or cramps. Small quantities of the fresh fruit or the powder will stimulate the appetite. For external use, cayenne is made into plasters or liniment or the tincture is applied to increase blood flow to areas afflicted with rheumatism, arthritis, pleuritis, or pericarditis. CAUTION: Prolonged  application to the skin can cause dermatitis and raise blisters. Excessive consumption can cause gastroenteritis and kidney damage.

Preparation and Dosages:

Infusion: Use 1/2 to 1 tsp. pepper per cup of boiling water. Take warm, 1 tbsp. at a time.

Powder: For acute conditions, take 3 to 10 grains, for chronic conditions 1 to 3 grains.


Recipe: Throbbing  Headache Tea: Many Spa Therapist classify this as a “gallbladder” headache.

Some say that it is caused by eating fatty foods for breakfast or for dinner the evening before. The problem probably exists from the digestive system, a slight digestive cleanser is suggested.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a cup of hot water, add a pinch of cayenne pepper. The lemon promotes alertness and the cayenne digestion stimulation.

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