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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.
Capsicum annuum L. (Solanaceae)
How is this product usually used?
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:
- dried fruit: 30 mg to 120 mg 3 times per day, with meals
- infusioninfusionthe process of steeping or soaking plant material in hot or cold water to isolate its active ingredient: 140 mg to 280 mg dried fruit per day
- tincturetincturea desired active ingredient that is extracted from alcoholic solution: 15 mg to 50 mg dried equivalent, 3 times per day (1:20, 60% alcohol, 0.3 mL to 1 mL)
- tincture: 20 mg to 70 mg dried equivalent per day as needed (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:
- aiding digestion (taken orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed))
- supporting blood flow to the extremities (hands, feet, arms, and legs) (taken orally)
- rheumatismrheumatismcondition affecting the muscles, tendons or joints with symptoms of pain or stiffness (pain or stiffness) and/or pain, swelling, or stiffness of muscles, joints, tendons, or ligaments (applied topicallytopicallyto be applied on the skin)
- skin pain associated with shingles and diabetes-related nerve pain (applied topically)
People have also used cayenne for:
- low back pain (plaster applied topically)
- pain, nausea, and vomiting after surgery
- cluster headache
- ear infections
- sore throat
- tooth ache
- sea sickness
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
- dyspepsiadyspepsiaindigestion or upset stomach
- ear infections
- 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 of oral cayenne use may include dyspepsiadyspepsiaindigestion or upset stomach, gastric burning/pain, throat irritation, 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, antidiabetic medication, and blood pressure medication.
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. Also, do not use topical cayenne with external heat to avoid skin burn and irritation.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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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