The Amazing Cayenne
by Vlad Robles
Years ago, while living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a friend introduced me to Cayenne Pepper. I was born and raised in the Caribbean; so you can imagine how I felt living less than an hour from Lake Superior. Since hot peppers are not a part of my culture (that’s Central America), cayenne and I didn’t have a history together; but, we sure hit it off right away.
Warm at Last
The first noticeable benefit from taking a few cayenne capsules with my meals was how they made me more resistant to the miserably cold winters. After no time at all, it was as if I had grown up in the area. I started wearing fewer layers during outdoor activities. I’m not entirely sure how it worked, but it probably had something to do with the improved circulation. I also found that adding the powder into my shoes made a vast difference when rather inactive out in the cold. Yes, it does stain your socks so I reserved that little weapon for special occasions. Oh, one day I decided to rub some cayenne and olive oil directly on my feet. Wow! That felt like the ground was warm the entire time I was outside. Only one problem though, that warmth lasted about 3 days and made it difficult to sleep as my feet felt too warm while the rest of my body was just right.
It didn’t take long for others to notice the boy from the Tropics was not freezing anymore; so, my roommate gave the capsules a try as well. We both took some with the evening meal. Little did we know that was not a good idea. I laid in bed for hours that night without going to sleep. Finally, around 2:30 AM, it dawned on me that the cayenne was the culprit and if so, my roommate was probably in the same predicament. While laying there in the dark, I asked him if he was awake. He responded with a tired and disappointed: “Yeeaaahhh.” Another lesson learned: Don’t take cayenne too close to bedtime. We laugh about that now…years later.
That night I confirmed that the cayenne was increasing my energy levels and endurance by strengthening my pulse and thinning my blood. I’ve enjoyed exercise such as long distance running since the 5th grade (God gave me these skinny little legs for something). However, the cayenne seemed to put an extra step in my walk. The funny thing is I didn’t feel much different until I got going with something. It wasn’t until I engaged in physical activity, work or play, that I felt like there was more in me than usual, although, I wasn’t antsy when inactive as with a high from caffeine. I should mention that all this didn’t happen overnight but over a period of weeks and months (as long as I took the cayenne).
No More Capsules
When we first got married, my wife tried the cayenne capsules for a little while. She kept complaining that it gave her heartburn. We got reading on the subject and found many renowned herbalists encourage the use of cayenne but not in capsules. The books all agreed that cayenne powder is THE herb of choice if only one is to be had. However, many authors claimed that “digestion begins in the mouth”. I never considered that when taking the cayenne capsules all those years. They upset my stomach occasionally but that was a small price to pay for the many benefits.
My Joy read that cayenne powder is best taken for medicinal purposes stirred into a small amount of juice (grape, carrot, tomato–you choose), and followed with some more liquid. She decided to try it, and found it didn’t upset her stomach. From our reading we learned to begin taking cayenne in very small amounts, and increase the dose gradually over time. She began by adding less than a 1/4 teaspoon to 3 or 4 ounces of juice (usually Concord grape juice). After a week or more, she increased the dose a little. Nowadays, she adds a heaping teaspoon to the 3 or 4 oz of juice and follows it up with some more juice, water or kombucha and occasionally an ice cube. Yes, it does feel warm, but not unbearably so, and you get used to it. Besides, she is the first one to tell you it’s worth it. The improved circulation has taken care of the occasional hemorrhoid and varicose veins. She has more regular bowel movements and improved digestion. Most of all, my Joy does not lack energy which we all benefit from because she gets so much done everyday and doesn’t feel rundown.
After a few years, I decided to try the cayenne powder stirred into a liquid instead of the capsules because I found the capsules were occasionally upsetting my stomach more often than not. I started with a very small amount (about a quarter of a teaspoon), and worked my way up over the following weeks and months. I now take about 2 teaspoons in about 3 or 4 ounces of kombucha or Concord grape juice, and wash it down with more drink. Well, I had to admit it is truly is better in the liquid instead of the capsules. I had been experiencing numbness in a few toes on my right foot (no clue why). The numbness is gone. Cold feet in the winter are not an issue anymore. I have more regular bowel movements. Best of all, I have a ton of energy to get through the day and take every opportunity to run and play outside with our growing boy. I simply had to try it to believe it. The cayenne pepper powder taken in a liquid has truly been better than the capsules, not to mention it is considerably less expensive.
A Hole in your Stomach
Some folks are hard to convince to give the cayenne a try for medicinal purposes. They think something that feels that hot in their mouth will surely make a hole in their stomach. That is simply not so. In fact, cayenne is a very effective digestive aid. What?!! You’re kidding, right?!! Nope, I’m serious. Cayenne has traditionally been used to increase the absorption capacity of the digestive system by stimulating the production of the needed enzymes to properly break down food. I read about a man who was plagued with chronic stomach ulcers. In a suicide attempt, he swallowed a handful of cayenne capsules (that’s a hot way to go). Cayenne on an empty stomach is NOT a good idea. To make a long story short, as a result of his dumb idea, he was cured of the stomach ulcers. Time and time again, I have read of accounts of folks using cayenne to correct digestive issues.
I already mentioned about not taking medicinal dosages of cayenne too late in the day because it may interfere with your sleep. That is, of course, unless you need to stay awake at night for work or study or driving, etc. What’s too late? That is for you to decide, and will depend on how much you are taking, and the day’s activities. I also mentioned not taking cayenne on an empty stomach (been there, trust me on this one). Be careful not to give younger children too much cayenne. They can consume as much as they like on the food they eat (great way for us all to avoid parasites), but I have read of a number of negatives for younger children when they consume medicinal (large) doses of cayenne. Remember to start with small doses and gradually work your way up. How much is too much? That will vary with each individual, and the day’s physical activity. Basically, your body will answer that for you. Lastly, cayenne does thin the blood. Keep that in mind if you are using any other blood thinners. Cayenne may be a great replacement for drugs that are meant to thin the blood.
Some Like it Hot!
I know of plenty of folks that like putting hot spices on their food (I’m not one of them). We have found from our reading that cayenne is the only hot pepper that has the long list of medicinal effects, I believe just about any hot pepper consumed regularly will guard you against intestinal parasites, along with a few other benefits, such as clearing the sinuses. However, cayenne is vastly different from all other hot peppers regarding the benefits to the heart, and the entire circulatory and digestive systems. Here is a short quote from the book, Left for Dead: “Cayenne regulates blood pressure, strengthens the pulse, feeds the heart, lowers cholesterol, thins the blood, cleanses the circulatory system, heals ulcers, stops hemorrhaging, speeds healing of wounds, rebuilds damaged tissue, eases congestion, aids digestion, regulates elimination, relieves arthritis and rheumatism, prevents the spread of infection and numbs pain.”
Now that I’m not as young as I used to be, I’m even more grateful for cayenne. I feel the day is over too soon. There is more in me to keep going at the end of the day. Have you felt like that recently? Though I don’t run as much as I use to, my legs are still as skinny as ever, along with the rest of me. Maybe it’s because cayenne speeds up the metabolism. Perhaps it’s just because God likes to humor my wife who often smiles at the sight of my skinny legs. In any case, I thank and credit the Creator for the manifold blessings of cayenne.