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Cayenne

General Information

Cayenne is a spice that adds colour, smell, and flavour and is used in dishes around the world. Cayenne is cultivated mainly in the United States and Europe. The active ingredient of cayenne is called capsaicin.

Common Name(s)

cayenne, chili pepper, paprika, red pepper, tabasco pepper

Scientific Name(s)

Capsicum annuum L. (Solanaceae)

Scientific Name(s)

The fruit of the cayenne plant is used medicinally both orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed) (taken by mouth) and topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin (applied to the skin). In general the doses are:

Oral

Topical

  • tincture: 20 mg to 70 mg dried equivalent per day (1:3, 60% alcohol, 0.06 mL to 0.2 mL)
  • other preparations: capsaicin cream (0.025% or 0.075% strengths)

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Cayenne has been used for:

People have also used cayenne for:

  • low back pain (plaster applied topically)
  • pain, nausea, and vomiting after surgery
  • diabetes-related nerve pain (diabetic neuropathy)
  • duodenal ulcer
  • dyspepsiadyspepsiaindigestion or upset stomach
  • ear infections
  • rhinitis
  • sore throat
  • weight loss

Research shows that cayenne may be helpful for osteoarthritis, lower back pain, nausea and vomiting after surgery, diabetes-related nerve pain, and post surgery pain.

Effective research is still needed to find out whether cayenne is helpful for other uses including:

  • helping digestion
  • supporting blood flow to the extremities
  • rheumatism and/or muscle and joint pain
  • tendon and ligament pain
  • skin pain
  • duodenal ulcer
  • dyspepsia
  • ear infections
  • rhinitis
  • sore throat
  • weight loss

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Common side effects from cayenne may include temporary skin irritation, burning, and stinging or redness. However, these are part of the normal, expected effects that usually disappear after repeated use. Other side effects may include nerve damage, increased sensitivity to pain, eye problems (e.g., redness, burning, altered vision), shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough.

Cayenne can interact with some medications. It increases the effects of blood thinners (e.g., warfarin, heparin, aspirin), blood clot dissolving medications (e.g., alteplase), and barbituates (e.g., phenobarbital, thiopental). Cayenne also increases the risk of side effects from different medications including theophylline and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (e.g., ramipril, lisinopril).

If you are using any of these medications, talk to your health care provider before using cayenne.

You should use topical cayenne for a minimum of 1 to 4 weeks to see benefits. In addition, wash your hands immediately after using cayenne unless treating the hands. Avoid eye contact with cayenne, and avoid applying on broken or injured skin.

Experience with cayenne is limited in children, so it should not be used in children under 2 years of age.

Avoid using cayenne if you:

  • have a stomach ulcer, stomach inflammation, or other stomach or intestinal disease (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome)
  • have kidney disease
  • are allergic to cayenne or any other ingredients of this natural health product
  • are pregnant or breast-feeding

Consult your health care provider if your symptoms persist or worsen after taking cayenne.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

Source(s)

  1. Health Canada. Drugs & Health Products. Monograph - Cayenne. www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/applications/licen-prod/monograph/mono_cayenne-eng.php, accessed 13 April 2011
  2. Micromedex Healthcare Series. Cayenne. http://www.thomsonhc.com/hcs/librarian/ND_T/HCS/ND_PR/...tentSetId/60/SearchTerm/cayenne/SearchOption/BeginWith (1 of 33)4/01/11 5:10:44 PM, accessed 01 April 2011.
  3. Natural Standard- the Authority on Integrative Medicine. Cayenne. http://naturalstandard.com.proxy.lib.uwaterloo.ca/databases/herbssupplements/capsicum.asp (1 of 48)4/01/11 4:51:13 PM, accessed 01 April 2011.

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