Cayenne is a member of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family. [1] Capsicum frutescens is the scientific name for the plant that produces the chili peppers we now refer to as cayenne. These plants originated in the tropical Americas and were later introduced to Africa and India. Botanically, cayenne plants appear as a shrubby perennial, reaching 3 feet in height. [2] The branches are purple in color, while the leaves are long stalked, ovate or oblong, nearly entire, and occasionally in pairs.

The fruit is the part of the plant used in both food and in medicinal applications. Cayenne peppers have been popularized, mainly, by their culinary use, adding heat to spicy dishes. These ‘fruits' are typically red, up to 10 cm in length and oblong-conical in shape. Peppers usually contain 10 - 20 seeds that are flattened and some 3 - 4 millimeters long.

Cayenne peppers
contain a number of active constituents. The primary medicinal components are capsaicin (0.1 - 1.5%) compounds, which exist as a mixture of capsaicin, dihydrocapsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin, and homodihydrocapsaicin. [3] Being a brightly colored fruit, cayenne also contains a number of carotenoids, including capsanthin, capsorubin, and carotene. Ascorbic acid (0.1 - 0.5%) and tocopherols are vitamins also found in cayenne peppers. The seeds of the fruit and the root contain steroidal saponins (capsicidins).

Capsaicin is the compound which has received much interest among researchers, with clinical efficacy in relieving pain and itching. Its pharmacologic action is described as temporarily stimulating the release of certain neurotransmitters (mostly substance P, the main chemomediator of pain impulses outside the central nervous system) from C-fiber afferent neurons, leading to their depletion. [4] This results in the absence of pain transmission. It takes, an estimated, three and ten days to take effect following the administration of capsaicin 4 times per day for 7 days. Once analgesia occurs, application must continue for three times daily to maintain the effect. Substance P is also related to the pathophysiology of the skin condition, psoriasis. It activates inflammatory compounds in the body that mediate the clinical manifestation of psoriasis. By depleting substance P, psoriasis can be clinically impacted.

Knowledge of the pharmacology of capsaicin has resulted in the investigation of cayenne for the treatment of various disorders with associated, and significant pain syndromes, including:

  • post-mastectomy syndrome
  • urticaria
  • psoriasis
  • diabetic neuropathy
  • arthritis
  • pruritis
  • post-surgical neuromas

Actions that are ascribed to cayenne include; circulatory stimulant, tonic, carminative (relieves gas in the digestive tract), spasmolytic (relieves digestive spasm), diaphoretic (causes perspiration), antiseptic, rubefacient (produces flushing of skin), appetite stimulant (in small doses) and counter-irritant.

Products Containing Cayenne
Name Price Rating Serving Price # of Servings Manufacturer Health Condition
7 Day Acne Detox $49.99
$1.79 28 Acne
ClearPores Herbal Formula $43.19
$0.00 0 Acne
DymaBurn Xtreme $15.95
$0.32 50 Dymatize


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