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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka African Pepper, Aji (Span), American Pepper, Bird Pepper, Capsicum, Chili Pepper, Chilies, Cockspur Pepper,
Ginnie Pepper, Goat's Pepper, Guinea Pepper, Pod Pepper, Red Pepper, Spanish Pepper, Zanzibar Pepper

(Capsicum annuum var. Longum Group)

When processing into a fine powder, wear eye protection, a mask over the mouth and nose, and wear gloves.
The smallest particle on any mucous membrane surface can be extremely discomforting.
EXCESS DOSES can lead to gastroenteritis and liver damage. Although overdoses are rare, they can result in a drop of body temperature which signals a life-threatening event and requires immediate medical intervention.
Medicinal doses are NOT to be taken by infants, pregnant women, by those breast feeding, or by anyone with duodenal ulcers, cronic bowel disease, other gastro-intestinal problems, or weak kidneys. Should never be applied to open skin
Capsicum oleoresin is subject to restrictions in some countries.
SEEDS are even hotter than the flesh; DO NOT EAT! And be sure to wash hands well if you've touched them.
Some people have an adverse reaction to Capsaicin when it is appled to the skin and experience pain, dizziness and rapid pulse; however, peppers soaked in vinegar for several hours are reported to neutralize this reaction. Also, eating the peppers with milk (or other fat) and alcohol (such as beer) is said to work. ALSO, do not keep a compess on the skin for long periods, or blistering may result. Contact treatments with the skin should not be longer than 2 days, then wait 2 weeks.
DO NOT place cayenne directly on an open fire in a closed room; the irritating oil can initiate such violent sneezing spasms that blood vessels in the head can burst.

NOTE: Old herbal references describe Cayenne as being C. frutescens, C. minimum, C. fastigiatum or other Capsicums. They are all hot varieties (some too hot to be practical), however, C. annuum var Longum Group is the one most widely recognized as being unofficially 'official' among herbalists. Other varieties that have been used are: C. baccatum, C. chinense, C. frutescens, C. pubescens; these have been used the same as Cayenne, but in lesser or more amounts, depending on the amount of heat. The HEAT of Capsicums is rated from 1 to 120 BTU's with the jalapeno rated at 15.
Capsicum annuum is represented by 5 groups: Cerasiforme (cherry pepper), Conioides (cone-shaped pepper), Fasciculatum (red cone pepper), Grossum (pimento, sweet bell), Longum (cayenne, chili)

CONTAINS: Volatile oils, alkaloids, asprin-like salicylates, fixed oils, fatty acids, resins, carotenoids, flavonoids, capsaicin (0.1% to 1.5%), capsanthine, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, sulphur, vitamin A (21,600 IU per 3.5 oz), vitamin C (369 mg per 3.5 oz), vitamin E, vitamin B complex, vitamin G, rutin, sodium, sugars, antioxidants, water (74.2% when fresh, 9.8% when air dried).
SEEDS contain steroidal saponins.

A perennial of tropical and subtropical regions (to 3 feet) of Central and South America where it is an integral part of the culinary, medicinal and religious lives of the Natives. It has been a staple of South American cuisine as far back as 5,000 BC and was well known by the Maya, Peruvian indians and the pre-Columbian Araucanian tribes. STEM is glabrous and woody near the base and branched at the top; nodes of the stems often have a purplish cast. LEAVES are ovate to lanceolate and petioled. FLOWERS are white to yellow, drooping, and appearing solitary or in two's or three's from the leaf axils on long stems; corolla is star-shaped with 5 pointed segments, greenish to yellowish in color and often bearing reddish or gold veinlike markings; 5 bluish stamens. The FRUIT is a fleshy, pointy-end pod, one inch or longer, of various shades of orange, yellow, or red and leathery, containing many seeds. SEEDS are white and kidney shaped.

From South America it spread to Europe, then Africa and India (introduced by the Portugese circa 1611), finally to England (1548 AD). Its use was widespread throughout Europe by 1650 AD. Chili pepper seeds have been discovered at excavations in Mexico at Tamaulipas and Tehuacen. The name is derived from the Greek meaning 'to bite'.

Capsicums are a complicated family with many cultivars, some sweet, some hot. Other varieties of C. annuum are Anaheim, Chili Serrano, Hungarian Wax, Jalepeno, Purple Tiger, and Super Cayenne.

Astrologically ruled by Mars.

PROPAGATION: By SEED in early spring. Requires a long growing season so start seeds 6 to 8 weeks before intending to set out. Tender perennial treated as an annual in the north. Does well potted inside over winter.
NEEDS: Full sun. Well-drained, moisture retentive soil. Plenty of warmth. Best in vegetable garden with minimum temps of 65 to 70 degrees F. Also grown as a crop. Plants grown under cover can be susceptible to spider mite, whitefly, and aphids. Can be grown indoors if kept evenly moist and the leaves washed about once a month to prevent insect and disease problems.
HARVEST: DO NOT RIP them off! When uniformly red, snip 1/2 inch of stem with ripe pod attached and hang in a place with good air flow. Often strung on a length of string run through the stems to dry. When dry, grind into a fine powder for use (see Caution note above). Must be stored in a dark container out of light.
SOLVENT: Alcohol, boiling water, vinegar.
PAPRIKA: Is actually a very mild variation of Capsicum, but contains more vitamin C than Cayenne.
LONG RED CAYENNE: Recommended for home garden.


Aromatic, hot, pungent, drying, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, stimulant, astringent, appetizer, digestive, improves peristalsis, irritant, sialagogue, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, circulatory tonic, carminative, rubifacient, antiseptic, antibacterial, equalizes circulation (stabilizes blood pressure, either high or low); affects circulatory and digestive systems; kidneys, spleen, lungs, heart, stimulates circulatory system, speeds metabolism, reduces fat absorption, relaxes the uvula, produces a slight effect on the adrenals to stimulate cortisone production; reduces substance P (sometimes called vitamin P), allowing its use in creams and salves for a variety of pain relief.
Has been used mainly as a catalyst for other herbs in herbal combinations with the exception of nervines in order to insure the quick action of the other herbs by increasing blood flow.
Experiments at Oxford Polytechnic Institute in England added 1 tsp of red pepper sauce and 1 tsp of mustard to meals and reported an increase of as much as 25% in metabolism.
Has been used for arthritis, arteriosclerosis, atonic gout, alcoholism, bronchitis, diabetes, fatigue, jaundice, kidney problems, pancreatic problems, pyorrhea, tumors, ulcers, delirium tremens, colds (chicken soup with cayenne and garlic), chills, flu, female problems, fevers, emphysema (chicken soup or broth with cayenne to stimulate the lungs), intermittent fevers, low-grade fever, migraines, cluster headaches, dry mouth, herpes, Raynaud's disease, diptheria (a cloth wet with the infusion and placed aruond the neck at the same time the infusion is drunk), hemorrhoids, hemorrhage, stomach/bowel cramps and pain, dysentary, debility in convalescence, depression, infections, heart problems, digestive problems, ulcers, shock (to treat or prevent its onset), scrofula, scarlet fever, thyroid balance, asthma, respiratory ailments, varicose veins, paralysis, aphonia, gangrene, typhoid fever, palsy. Has been included in regular diets as a protective measure against obstructive lung disease (also added to the bath water for simple congestion) and sinus problems; 2 to 3 drops of undiluted infusion has been used to stimulate appetite.
Has been used externally for sprains, neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, lumbago, pleurisy. Has been combined with myrrh and used as a gargle for laryangitis and tonsillitis. The ointment has been used for shingles, trigeminal neuralgia, surgical trauma, cluster headache, bunions, but full relief requires about 3 days.
For stroke the feet have been placed in a hot bath with mustard and 1/2 tsp Cayenne.
For scarlet fever and other feverish illnesses 1 cup of water has been combined with 1 cup of vinegar, 2 Tbsp Cayenne, and 1 tsp of salt; the mixture being simmered for 1 hour, then strained and taken 1 Tbsp every 1/2 hour for severe cases and in milder cases in a diluted form. The mixture has also been used as a gargle.
Has been combined with lobelia for tetanus and as a nervine.
Has been used as an irritant and counter-irritant in poultices or plasters.
1/4 tsp cayenne has been used as a tonic (3 times daily) for heart and circulation problems and as a preventative for strokes, colds, flu, headaches, indigestion and arthritis.
The tincture has been combined with over-the-counter lotions (natural - obtained in health food stores) and applied externally to increase blood flow to arthritic and rheumatic problem areas as well as applied for pleuritis and pericarditis. Also, Russian Nastoika (see "Culinary" section) is used as a poultice and liniment in combination with other treatments for these same conditions. Capsaicin cream has been used for shingles, diabetic nerve damage, psoriasis and post-op pain; once such OTC cream is Zostrix.
West Indian natives have long soaked the pods in hot water, then added sugar, the juice of sour oranges, then drank this mixture when feverish. A digestive remedy from the same region, called Mandram, blends cayenne, thinkly sliced cucumbers, shallots, chives or onioins, lemon or lime juice and madiera wine.
The Maya used Cayenne for earache and a condition called yellow urine for which the seeds were used.
Once combined in capsule form with slippery elm powder for constipation and taken with meals; not a laxative, but has been used this way as a toner for the intestinal system; capsules have also been used for mucous conditions (also mixed in water and used as a gargle with1 tsp made into a paste with a little water to prevent lump formation, then the additon of more water to the paste to make a gargle).
Cayenne, bran, and water (4 Tbsp cayenne, 2 cups bran, and enough hot water to make a spreadable paste, then placed between 2 layers of cheesecloth) have been combined and used as a poultice for chest and lung congestion, also for chronic fatigue with the poultice placed over the kidneys and lower back and kept covered with a warm towel.
As a flu preventative, the following combination has been used: 2 tsp Cayenne mixed with 1½ tsp salt; 1 cup of boiling water is added, then allowed to cool befoe adding 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.
The extract or the infused oil has been used to wet a plug of cotton for a tooth cavity; the initial pain followed by relief of the toothache. The powder has also been rubbed in for toothache as well as swellings and inflammation.
Has been used to warm the body after exposure to cold and damp.
Once sprinkled between sock and innersole for cold feet (NOT recommended for children), sometimes mixed with foot powder or talc before sprinking in shoes or boots. The ointment has been used on chilblains (NOT if skin is broken).
Has anti-ulcer activity.
High in Vit. E and acts as preservative. Also contains Vit. C and beta-carotene.
A few grains will stop bleeding, but it's very painful.
Has been combined with Plantain to draw out foreign objects in the skin.
When a clear head and energy are required, an energy drink has been made by combining 1/4 tsp of Cayenne to 1 quart of fruit juice.
Pepper sauce made from Cayenne and vinegar is known to travelers who carry it to prevent stomach upset from unsanitary food preparation.
Samuel Thompson, a 19th century herbalist who patented his formulas, usually added a dash of cayenne to his healing drinks to insure that the entire system was stimulated so the other herbs would be assimilated and do their work.
The eating of red peppers is believed to release endorphins.
Claims that Cayenne reduces cholesterol or decreases tendency of blood to clot are as yet scientifically inconclusive.
Cumulative antioxidant index (CAI) =
Betacarotene x Vit C x Vit E x Selenium

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
Infused oil and ointments (creams) are less irritating than the raw fruit. Commercially available creams contain 0.025% to 0.075% capsaicin.
FRESH FRUIT = 1/2 tsp
POWDER = 3 to 5 grains for acute conditions; 1 to 3 grains for chronic conditions.
INFUSION = 1/2 tsp powdered cayenne added to cup water, just off the boil; remove 1 Tbsp and place in another cup, then add a cup of warm water; taken in sips.
INFUSED OIL = 1 oz powdered cayenne in 8 oz of olive or other vegetable oil in the top of a double boiler; heat for 2 hours. Has been used as a massage oil for rheumatism, lumbago, and arthritis (not recommended these days as the cream or ointment is less damaging to the skin).
TINCTURE = 3 to 5 drops in a cup of water as a circulatory stimulant and tonic; also as a gargle.
COMPRESS = Soak a cotton pad in an infusion; has been applied to rheumatic and arthritic pan, sprains and bruising.
PILL = Can be made by rolling 1 to 5 grains of Cayenne into bread or cheese to form a pill shape.

Used for: asthma, cough, delirium tremens, diarrhea, diptheria, dysentary, earache, glandular swellings, hemorrhoids, headache, heartburn, hernia, intermittent fever, lung problems, measles, mouth ulcerations, neuralgia, obesity, esophogeal problems, paralysis, pleurisy, gout, rheumatism, sciatica, scrofula, nausea, sore throat, tongue paralysis, tickling in throat, urinary system problems, whooping cough, yellow fever.

Used in the form of Tabasco sauce to treat chorea in animals, also paralysis.
Has been used as part of a more complete therapy of diet to expel tapeworms in dogs.
Naturopathic vets use Cayenne to treat heartworm along with other treatment options; cayenne is given in Tabasco sauce form at the rate of 1/2 tsp mixed with flour and honey and formed into pills.

DO NOT ADD to recipes intended for freezing; wait and add when ready to serve.
WEAR GLOVES when handling peppers or else bathe hands in vinegar to remove any traces of capsaicin.
RESOURCE for hot pepper afficianados is: International Connoisseurs of Green and Red Chilies, Box 33467, University Park, Las Cruces NM 88003.
Mainly used as a condiment. Wherever a hot pepper is desired. The dried and ground pod is combined with yeast and flour and baked into a hard cake which is ground into the finished spice; used in curries and as part of chili powder.
The unripe fruits are eaten raw, pickled, or cooked.
The ripe fruits are eaten fresh, pickled, or dried for use as a condiment.
An ingredient in Chutney.
Russian Nastoika is made by adding one or two red pepper pods to a bottle of Vodka.
Regular dietary use provides medical benefits. Has long been eaten as a preventative to heart disease, stroke, and hardening of the arteries, although scientific proof is as yet insufficient.
HOT SAUCE (recipe revised from a 19th century receipt book called The Cook's Oracle by Dr. William Kitchiner): Rinse and drain 1/4 lb of fresh hot peppers (use caution when handling peppers; DO NOT touch eyes, nose, mouth, etc). Remove stems and seeds. Chop in food processor or blender, then gradually add 1/2 cup sherry and 1/2 cup brandy until all is pureed, then add 1/2 cup fresh, strained lime juice, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp cayenne powder or paprika (for a milder version). Put into jars and cover with 2 layers of cheesecloth held in place with rubber bands. Allow to sit in a warm place for 2 weeks, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Store in refrigerator indefinitely. If it separates, give it a shake. A less hot version can be made by using paprika.

Due to its antioxidant content, cayenne has been used as a preservative in topical regions.
Used in pepper sprays for self defense.
Once used to discourage vermin by placing a heaping Tbsp of powder in a shallow pan over a low fire and allowing the fumes to fill the air of a room (inhabitants must vacate the building during the process and not enter until completely aired out).
Once used to adulterate mustard.

©2000 & 2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH