A Detailed FAQ Guide on Cayenne Pepper


by Glenn Reschke

This cayenne pepper FAQ about will address the most common questions I receive on cayenne pepper as well as those questions that may arise in the future.

This page will grow in time as well for I'm constantly getting questions from interested parties.

Also, if you do have a question about cayenne, please consult this page first before emailing me as it will most likely answer your question.

Question: What is the best way to store cayenne pepper or capsicum?
Answer: Length of time the powder will store depends on storage conditions. Refrigeration was actually not recommended by famed herbalist Dr. John Christopher. That is how I do it, though, and I see no problem as I don't have anything to hermetically seal it.

You can keep Capsicumpowder for up to a year if it's stored in a fairly cool place at room temperature. It's been suggested that the best way to store Capsicum powder is in a hermetically sealed can. If you do that, it should last two to three years. It shouldn't be put in paper bag, though.

Again, as mentioned, I just put mine in a plastic bag that I buy it in and put it in the refrigerator.

Question: If I store it in a can, will I have weevils or bugs getting into it?
Answer: Good question. Dr. Christopher wrote to put a couple of elder leaves in it as that would ward off bugs. You can also use wormwood on top of the Capsicum, although this could taint the cayenne's taste as wormwood herb is very bitter. When I personally stored mine in a cupboard, I never had this problem. Bugs don't seem to like Capsicum (it's even been used in a home-made bug spray for that very reason). I just store mine in the refrigerator -- that works for me, but each to his own! :)

Question: How many times a day did you drink cayenne pepper water to initially cure your hemorrhoids?
Answer: In all honesty, just once and it reduced the swelling in two days. The itching, bleeding and blood vessel swelling all went away. You should change your diet too. More fiber via fruits, grains and vegetables is ideal.

Question: Is cayenne pepper an alkaline food?
Answer: Yes, it is. It helps to balance the pH levels in the body.

Question: And as far as when to drink, I understand that post workout is a bad idea, but what about in relation to meals? Thanks for your insight.
Answer: Ideally, it's best to drink Capsicum half an hour after eating or half an hour or so before eating. The general rule of thumb is to not drink any liquid of any kind with food for a bare minimum of 15 minutes, or until the food has had a chance to pass out of the stomach.

It's not ideal to drink cayenne and then to take a meal or having it with a meal. By taking it alone with water, you give yourself optimum benefit and you'll actually get less stomach agitation although it will, to be honest, agitate the stomach nonetheless. The two most demanding physiological events in our bodies are digestion and coital orgasms. No comment on the second one but as for digestion and cayenne, it's really best to take Capsicum alone.

Question: Is there any reason why you couldn't put cayenne pepper in another drink? I thought about trying something along the lines of sugar free drink mixes like Crystal Light. I just want to make sure that what I'm mixing it with doesn't negate the effect of the Capsicum.
Answer: The water ideally should be really warm. Not lukewarm, not hot like tea or coffee, but somewhere between lukewarm and hot. That said, don't drink it if the water is too hot and thus is uncomfortable to you. Famed herbalist/naturopathic doctor Dr. John Christopher said hot was ideal for the heart. If you drink it cold, it still will have great benefits. Combining it with something else other than lemon or maple syrup is not ideal although certainly allowable. It should be taken alone with water for maximum effect. Adding lemon is great and maple syrup as well. In fact some think it's a wonder drink for weight loss as the singer/actress Beyonce used the Capsicum/lemon/maple syrup combination to great effect. That's debatable. I can understand why you'd want to consume it with Crystal Light but drinking Capsicum isn't as bad as some think. Just make sure you start small and stay small for a while. I recommend no more than a quarter of a teaspoon with 1/8th of a teaspoon being the best place to start. If that's too much, try even less. Your body will quickly adapt. If you would like to learn some options for drinking it, check out this cayenne pepper drink options page within this site. Perhaps it will help.

Question: What are the ratios of Capsicum to mcg (micrograms) and mg (milligrams) and ounces in practical terms?
Answer: One capsule of Capsicum is equal to about 450 milligrams or .45 grams. To be precise, .45 grams = 0.015873 ounces. In real world practical terms, one 450 milligram capsule is about 1/4th to 1/3rd of a teaspoon.

Question: How much capsaicin is in Capsicum per 1/4th of a teaspoon?
Answer: One typical capsule of cayenne pepper, which is about 1/4th to 1/3rd of a teaspoon has about .025% of capsaicin in it as far as I can tell based on my research of that. In other words, that's 1/4th of one percent of the Capsicum in one capsule or 1/4th to 1/3rd of a teaspoon is capsaicin the active ingredient.

Question: How warm is the water you mix it with? Warmer than room temperature?
Answer: Again, somewhere between lukewarm and boiling hot. Cold works too, though. I'm used to mine warm now and that's the way I drink it. That's the optimal way.

Question:How many capsules should I start with?
Answer: Cayenne is very potent. One typical capsule of Capsicum is about 1/4th or 1/3rd of a teaspoon so if you decide to add Capsicum to your health regime, from experience, I wouldn't start with more than that.

Question: Hello, I found your website last week and began drinking the cayenne pepper water for a hemorrhoid problem.  I felt pretty good when I first started, reduced swelling and almost more energetic, but the last couple of days the problem has gotten worse and I seem to be in more pain.  I don't have a bleeding hemorrhoid problem, but it's more painful as of late.  Is this possible from constriction on the hemorrhoidal veins, or are new symptoms appearing?  I have been using about a 1/4 tsp for the last week.  What do you know of horse chestnut extract?  Thanks for the help, I hoped this would rid me of this problem, but hasn't yet.  Also, should I increase the amount used, would persistent use be more beneficial in fixing the problem, or should it have fixed the problem at this point? 
Answer: I do know Capsicum will heal hemorrhoids if you take it consistently. For me it cleared it up in two days -- literally. I suggest increasing your intake to perhaps a half a teaspoon. Sometimes the body adapts really quickly. I have a relative in Santa Rosa, California who has terrible migraines. She's been taking Capsicum for it and it's helped but not as effectively as previously. She decided to increase the amount she usually takes and it worked literally in minutes, she said.

While migraines are different from hemorrhoids, of course, perhaps increasing the dosage will help. I would also start eating nothing but fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits and grains for a few weeks to help the healing. Cayenne pepper does work, it really does, but its effects are compounding for the better when a high-fiber diet is combined with it. Sometimes, like in my case, Capsicum works immediately and that's enough for people.

I can't see how Capsicum would make the hemorrhoids more painful. I think what's happening is more symptoms are appearing. Keep taking it. Your blood might have a lot of build-up of mucous in it and that could be causing the new symptoms with the blood vessels there. What you describe sounds like a typical cleansing experience.

I am familiar with horse chestnut. I wrote an article on it about four years ago you can see it here if you're interested: 
I recommend horse chestnut too and if used in a sensible way with Capsicum it will amplify your results.cayenne pepper powder

Dr. John R. Christopher, the famed herbalist/naturopathic who passed away in Feb. 1983, told a story of a bodybuilder friend who had hemorrhoids so bad, he had to wear a belt. Upon seeing Dr. Christopher take his daily glass of Capsicum water, he asked him if that concoction would help. "Only if you take it," Dr. Christopher said. His friend started taking it and his hemorrhoids went away and he no longer had to wear the belt. Dr. Christopher. doesn't mention if his friend changed his diet at all but I'm betting he did.

I hope this helps. Again, I'm not a doctor but I'm only trying to help and I am not expecting anything in return for I only want to help people.

Question: Can I use Capsicum for my eyes?
Answer: You should use cayenne in combination with other herbs for the eyes but only under a trained naturopathic/herbalist's care. While you could put a little Capsicum in the eye, it would burn very badly. I've actually done this as a test for an herbalist friend told me Capsicum won't hurt your eyes. (I was also wondering if it would really help my eyesight in that eye as I'm half-blind it it.) It burned badly but my eye, while it watered profusely, was just fine. Not the smartest thing to do but it didn't harm my eye. Don't do what I did. Capsicum is an accentuator to other herbs and should be used only with discretion, judgment and wisdom by a trained herbalist for eye problems. I've used an herbal formula called "eyebright", a Dr. Christopher formula and it works well. The amount of Capsicum in the concoction, though, is very, very, very small. So, best answer: don't use it for your eyes directly. Be wise.

Question: Can cayenne pepper be used for a toothache?
Answer: Yes. Clean the cavity and place cotton saturated with Capsicum oil into your cavity. Capsicum will prevent tooth rot. You should see your dentist, though, as soon as possible. (That's a good question for this cayenne pepper FAQ.)

Question: When I started taking cayenne via a drink, I noticed a topical, isolated area (my neck) that became pink. It didn't happen to any other areas of my body, though. What is going on?
Answer: Not to fear. Capsicum is a "rubfacient" herb that will bring blood to the surface of the skin. It will bring toxins to the surface as well. This will go away and is not harmful. Remember, Capsicum pepper or capsicum is very nourishing to the heart and to the venous system. Sometimes the face will go red with the flushing of blood to the surface. I recommend scaling back your intake of Capsicum until your body adapts. While Capsicum is a great medicinal herb, it still should be used with judgment and skill. I recommend starting with only one capsule or 1/8th to 1/4th of a teaspoon of Capsicum in a glass of water -- that's it. Let your body have time to adapt. By the way, if you're interested in learning about some of the side effects of cayenne, click on the preceding link. Perhaps that info will help.

Question: Why should the water in the Capsicum water drink or with the lemon Capsicum detox drink be hot or warm? Why does the warm water matter?
Answer: Let me quote Dr. Christopher, the famed herbalist and naturopathic doctor, as he says it best. "The warm [cayenne pepper] tea is faster working than capsules or cold tea because the warm tea opens up the cell structure -- makes it expand and accept the cayenne that much faster, and it goes directly to the heart, through the artery system, and feeds it with powerful food." I think that answers it.

Question: I believe in the health benefits of cayenne pepper but drinking it causes my stomach to get upset, although it does go away in 10 to 15 minutes or so.
Answer: Good question. I totally understand, and your experience is common. Drinking cayenne pepper water is not like drinking a strawberry milkshake, to be sure. Capsicum is a very, very powerful herb. One of its drawbacks, though, is that it's hard to drink. I understand that. I've had the same experience you've had too, by the way. Here's what I recommend: after you drink your daily cayenne pepper drink, just sit still and don't move around too much for a minimum of 10 minutes. It takes Capsicum about 15 to 20 minutes to pass out of the stomach. I've found that by just sitting very still without too much moving around that the upset stomach feeling passes, and is barely noticeable IF I just sit at my computer or in my office chair or on my couch watching TV. I've also found that whenever I increase my dosage of Capsicum, the old stomach upset comes back. However, I also notice my body adapts really quickly to it. Simple advice, I know, but it works. Remain as still as you can. You should never drink it before working out or after working out or you'll have the worst stomach ache you've ever had, and it will probably discourage you from ever doing it again. Considering Capsicum's remarkable array of health benefits, I'm willing to be a little inconvenienced, but what you do is your choice.

Question: Is the belief "the hotter the better" the way it is with cayenne? When I take 100k Scoville Heat Unit cayenne it really burns in my stomach.
Answer: Yes and no. Yes, the additional heat due to the extra capsacin in the 100k SHU heat is very good for you, but no from a practical matter. Capsicum at 30 to 50k SHU is already plenty hot. It's barely tolerable for some at that heat level. If one persists with one capsule or 1/4th of a teaspoon of Capsicum in warm water, that is sufficient. Dr. Christopher, the herbalist who popularized Capsicum, drank it three times a day. (He used a full teaspoon at a time from what I've been able to find out. If anyone knows better, please let me know.) There is simply a trade off here. More heat is not necessarily good from a practical point of view. Sometimes, less is more and it's true, in my opinion, with Capsicum. While it's not ideal, try taking Capsicum after you have some food in your stomach. For optimal healing benefit, especially if you have stomach ulcers, it's best to take it alone.

Question: Does cayenne pepper make you smell like garlic can?
Answer: No! It doesn't work like that. I've never heard that reported -- ever! Garlic, yes. I know that from personal experience too, but not cayenne. I've never heard of that happening to anyone, nor have I read about it.

Question: Isn't just sprinkling it on my food enough?
Answer: In order to derive therapeutic health benefits from Capsicum, sprinkling it on your food will provide some benefit but it won't be significant enough.

Question: I'm new to cayenne. How should I start taking it?
Answer: I'm not a doctor so I want that clear (see the disclaimer). I'm not diagnosing or prescribing anything. If you are going to supplement your health regime with Capsicum (after clearing it with your doctor, of course), many Capsicum beginners start with 1/8th to 1/16th of a teaspoon in two to three ounces of very warm water of no hotter than 35,000 to 45,000 SHU Capsicum. Many build up from there going to 1/4th to 1/2 to a full teaspoon in two to three ounces of very warm water. Hope that answers it adequately enough. By the way, perhaps this cayenne capsules vs. cayenne tea page would be useful to you as well as this cayenne pepper drink options page. (Both are within this website.)

Question: What does "SHU" mean?
Answer: It is an acronym that means "Scoville Heat Units" and is a subjective indicator of the heat of the Capsicum. For more information on it, go to this page within this website.

Question: If it is drunk shortly before bed, will it keep people up, that is, will it cause insomnia?
Answer: Generally speaking, no, it won't. However, everyone is different. It doesn't bother me in the slightest as regarding insomnia, but it may perhaps others. The key is to start small and "stay small" if you will until your body really is acclimated to it. The best advice I can give about drinking cayenne is to sit still and not move around a lot after drinking it. That principle applies at any time it is imbibed.

Question: One thing I am not clear about is whether there is any difference between Capsicum powder and chili powder as both of them comes from the same source. It seems that Capsicum has less heat than chili.
Answer: It's a great question. There is a difference between chili pepper and Capsicumalthough it is a slight one. The key is the Capsicum cultivar that the chili pepper is made from. Typically the average chili pepper is made from the following cultivars:

  • Capsicum annuum, which includes many common varieties such as bell peppers, wax, cayenne, jalapeños, and the chiltepin.
  • Capsicum frutescens (sometimes called Capsicum fastigiatum -- this is a synonymous classification), which includes malagueta, tabasco and Thai peppers, piri piri, African birdseye chili, Malawian Kambuzi.
  • Capsicum chinense, which includes the hottest peppers such as the naga, habanero, Datil and Scotch bonnet.
  • Capsicum pubescens, which includes the South American rocoto peppers.
  • Capsicum baccatum, which includes the South American aji peppers (this info taken from Wikipedia for time).

I would recommend you go to the following URL for more information: Cayenne is made from the first two families, namely Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens; chili pepper from all of them. There's something special medicinally with the first two Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens. For optimal benefit, stick to cayenne pepper -- that's my educational opinion.

Question: Which is better for daily intake? Is it better to take the Capsicum powder or the tincture?
Answer: Good question. The answer is the powder. The tincture can be useful for emergency situations or for putting in wounds but overall, the powder is best for daily intake, in my opinion.

Question: Do the habaneros peppers or habaneros powder have the same value as Capsicum?
Answer: To answer the question, the key here is what peppers the cayenne is made from. Cayenne pepper powder is made from Capsicum annum or the Capsicum frutescens classified peppers. While habaneros are in the same family with the Capsicum genus within the Solanaceae or "nightshade" family of plants, they are different. Habaneros fall within the Capsicum chinense cultivar of the Solanaceae family. So they are related, yes, but there's something special about the Capsicum annuum and the Capsicum frustcens families. Habaneros are great for one's health, there's no doubt about that. They also taste great, if you like peppers that is. By the way, you can find some good info on the different cultivars in the Solanaceae family here. Fro more info, check out the question that is directly before the preceding one. There, you'll find a list of the different cultivars.

Question: The last time I contacted you, I was (and still am) taking 1 level teaspoon (90,000SHU) of cayenne pepper three time a day with meals. I'm just wondering if going to 180,000 HU would be any more beneficial? I'm quite used to taking the 90,000hu now. Also, I carry a small container with me every where. Is it a good idea to change the pepper occasionally in this container?
Answer: If you've reached one teaspoon, three times a day, that is exceptional. You will most certainly have all the health benefits Capsicum will give with that level. Going to 180,000 SHU will be an adjustment just like it is when moving forward to 90,000 SHU. Take it slow, if you do it. The additional benefits is that you will get additional capsaicin in your system, which seems to be highly beneficial. There have been over 3,000 studies done Capsicum and capsaicin, according to Dr. Patrick Quillin's book, The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper -- and that book was published in 1998. There have been at least a few hundred since then in the following 13 to 14 years or so. Storing Capsicum is simple enough. Dr. John R. Christopher said to put an elder leaf in the container of Capsicum to ward off insects, but Capsicum itself in my experience is enough to ward off unwanted pests. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to carry around the same Capsicum in a container. Of course, that is just my opinion. I have no supporting material to validate that claim.

Question: If you start with the more mild cayenne pepper at 30K SHU and build up to a teaspoon, and then move up to 90K SHU would that be the same as taking 3 times the amount of 30K cp?  Or start with about 1/4 tsp of the 90K and work up?
Answer: The answer is no, it would not be equal of 3x the potency of 30k SHU (Scoville Heat Units) Capsicum. In fact, if one "graduates" from 30k Capsicum to 90k SHU, one will have to acclimate to the potency of the 90k SHU Capsicum essentially starting back at 1/8th of a teaspoon or so. Especially if it's organic Capsicum. I wouldn't worry too much about SHU. I've received many unsolicited emails from people who've experienced many health benefits from just plain ol' 35k SHU Capsicum. Personally, I'm using 90k SHU Capsicum.

Question: I have found your material very very helpful. When I go to the websites for ordering I see extracts.   The websites you refer me to do not have tinctures.   I don t know if there is a difference, but would like your opinion. Tinctures pour drops of cayenne hot water...would be easier than the powder. What do you say? Also I am on Plavix, a blood thinner for several stents.   I hope to take the cayenne pepper For its many benefits. I would be grateful for your response.
Answer: Thank you for your kind words regarding my website. At both sales pages, there are links to buy a cayenne tincture. I just checked all of them and they are active. One of them doesn't have a photo associated to it but it's still for sale and is active. You can buy tinctures at and at
The tinctures are used more for emergency situations as well as for cleaning a wound. There is a significant difference between the tincture and the powder. Overall, the powder is the best cayenne supplement option, in my opinion. The "easier" option would be the tincture, but the cheapest and most overall effective option is the powder. You might want to ask your doctor if there is any interaction problem. I've been meaning to write an article regarding that. (Thank you for the reminder.) Anyway, check out this URL here, possible-interactions-with-cayenne. It has good info on it regarding possible drug interactions. Cayenne does have some interaction with blood thinners. It says, " Capsaicin may increase the risk of bleeding associated with certain blood-thinning medications (such as warfarin and heparin) and herbs (such as ginkgo, ginger, ginseng, and garlic)." Capsaicin in the secondary metabolite or active ingredient in cayenne.
Question: What is the difference between extract and cayenne pepper tincture?
Answer: While similiar, extracts are typically more concentrated than tinctures. All herbal extracts have a ratio of fluid to herb, generally speaking, of one to one or 1:1. Most tinctures have a ratio of 3:1, which means three parts fluid to one part herb material or greater, commonly up to 8:1.
Question: How many times a week is it recommended to drink or supplement with cayenne pepper?
Answer: It depends. Basically, though, I recommend people drink it once a day minimum. For those with health problems, Dr. Christopher recommended three times a day. That is optimal, but certainly difficult and undesirable for most people. Everyone should start with the lowest SHU (Scoville Heat Units) they can, which is usually 35k to 50k then gradually move up to 90k SHU. Most will stay there. Some hearty folk will go to 160k SHU. Equally important to this question is the amount one should start with when they begin to supplement with cayenne. I recommend starting with 1/8th of a teaspoon of cayenne and gradually working up to one full teaspoon in 3 to 4 ounces of liquid such as warm water, lemon juice, orange juice, tomato juice, etc. One can move up from 1/8th to 1/4th then to 1/2 to 3/4 to 1 full tsp when they feel the characteristic burn of cayenne less pronounced with no "side effects." The side effects of cayenne I'm talking about for most are burning (of course and this will never go away), but more to the point, a quick cayenne-fueled defecation and/or stomach upset. For more details on cayenne "side effects," go to the side effects page in this website. It's found in the main section in the navbar to your left.
Question: I've started supplementing with cayenne pepper but my blood pressure has actually increased since I've started taking it. Why is this happening? I thought cayenne would help this.
Answer: This is not an uncommon experience. According to cayenne expert Dr. John R. Christopher (now deceased):
"This herb is a great food for the circulatory system in that it feeds the necessary elements into the cell structure of the arteries, veins and capillaries so that these regain the elasticity of youth again and the blood pressure adjusts itself to normal. When the venous structure becomes loaded with sticky mucus, the blood has a harder time circulating; therefore, higher pressure forces the liquid through. Cayenne regulates the flow of blood from the head to the feet so that it is equalized; it influences the heart immediately, then gradually extends its effects to the arteries, capillaries, and nerves (the frequency of the pulse is not increased, but is given more power)" (School of Natural Healing, 1976, p. 407).
If one changes their diet, uses cayenne, and perhaps takes other heart healthy herbs like Hawthorne berry, the blood pressure should lower. However, cayenne by itself is usually enough. Most people eat badly for years and think they can start taking a powerful agent, like cayenne, and immediately re-gain their youthful health. That's a ridiculous standpoint, in my opinion (I'm not trying to offend anyone here). Re-gaining health can take some time. I firmly believe cayenne is one of those amazing foods or medicinal spices that can really accelerate good heart health.
Question: Can cayenne help a problem with the pancreas?
Answer: Of course, but see a medical doctor. I'm not a doctor. Here's what Dr. Christopher wrote in the book, The School of Natural Healing, "Cayenne is a great herb in aiding the digestive system, pancreas, etc., to have smoother performance and working in cooperation with the other organs and the circulatory system" (p. 407).
Question:  Are there any studies out there that shows cayenne to have influence on testosterone? I am 66, and having some erectile dysfunction (ED) issues, and would like to address the problem without prescription drugs...maybe you've received emails about cayenne and testosterone or ED.
Answer: I don't know of any studies that discuss cayenne and ED. However, that could change. There have literally been thousands of clinical studies conducted on cayenne, which have mostly been centered on capsaicin. Cayenne, though, helps with improving blood flow by "cleaning" or "scrubbing" the blood of impurities. That's one of its core competencies. The natural consequence of this is an alleviating or lessening of ED. However, it should not be viewed as an "ED" supplement per se. For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward and cayenne gives multiple, sometimes unexpected rewards.

Lastly, if you're interested in supplementing or experimenting with cayenne, you can get more information about buying good quality cayenne at this article within this site. Or for more product options, go to this page.

I hope this cayenne pepper FAQ page has been useful to you.