Learn Here About the Historical Uses of Cayenne Pepper
by Glenn Reschke
One of the interesting things about cayenne pepper is that it's been used
all over the world for its therapeutic abilities as well as for its culinary uses.
This short article will hopefully illustrate that fact to you.
As you will see, cayenne is used both as a ingested supplement or health aid as well as a topical ointment in
I credit the following URL and website for putting all this information together: http://www.naturalstandard.com/news/news201102062.asp. I had put together most of this
information myself as I was planning just such an article, but as I was lacking a few points and hadn't
coordinated or organized the structure of the article yet, I didn't publish it to this site.
Plus, to be honest, I feel their presentation of it was better and more concise than mine so I'm happy to credit
them for this outstanding research.
Nevertheless, I have taken the liberty of adding a few points of clarification, or interpolations, as I have
seen fit. I've also corrected a few small punctuation and grammatical errors, too.
Okay, enough preamble. Let's get started.
Cayenne has been used medicinally by various cultures and peoples for centuries. That is not an exaggeration
In fact, until the early part of the 20th century, medicinal herbs were the preferred method of medicine in most
of the world. At that time, practitioners of medicinal herbs were called, "natural hygenists" by its
Cayenne was one of those staples used along with lobelia (especially by Samuel Thomson). Let's go over
the geographical and historical usage of cayenne's historical history; let's take them one by one.
Ayurveda Medicine: The use of cayenne in Ayurvedic medicine is well documented. Primarily, it
is used orally for treatment of peptic ulcers, dyspepsia and flatulence. According to secondary sources, in
Ayurvedic medicine, a combination of cayenne, garlic and liquid is used in external paste form as a local
stimulant. When combined with mustard seed in a paste, cayenne is used as a counter-irritant. Capsaicin and
dihydrocapsaicin are used as food additives and drugs in India.
Caribbean Medicine: In Trinidad, bird pepper juice applied inside a dog's nose
is used to improve the ability of a dog to find a trail or follow a scent. Capsicum frutescens has also been
used to treat diabetes mellitus by traditional healers in Jamaica. In the West Indies, a preparation called
mandram, used for weak digestion and loss of appetite, contains cayenne, thinly sliced cucumbers, shallots,
chives or onions and lemon or lime juice.
It is still popular in the Carribean. I have received a few emails from citizens of various Carribean islands
who tell me they grow it and use it liberally and that is is still used widely throughout their respective
Chinese medicine: In Chinese medicine, cayenne is used as a digestive stimulant for gastrointestinal disorders.
Topically, it is used in ointment form to treat myalgia and frostbite. Today, capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin are
used as food additives and drugs in China. In fact, in the liberal usage of medicinal herbs paved the way for
American usage of it although not exclusively. To this day in the orient
European Medicine: Cayenne pepper is approved by the German Commission E as a topical ointment
for the relief of painful muscle spasms. In fact, European countries are very open to naturopathic and herbal
medicine. In Germany, ginkgo biloba, a memory and mental functioning herb is actually prescribed by allopathic
Japanese Medicine: Use of chilies has been documented in traditional Japanese medicine. One
current product used in Japan that includes cayenne as an ingredient is detoxication foot pads for external use. An
appetite suppressive effect of cayenne has been shown in Japanese females.
Korean medicine: In Korea, I was an eye witness as to the usage of various medicinal herbs in
Korean herbology. Ginseng, gotu kola, and other esoteric medicinal herbs and spices are quite popular among native
Koreans. The usage of medicinal herbs in Korea undoubtedly was influenced by China to the north just as the
Confucian ethic or philosophy pervades Korea today.
Mexican Medicine: In Mexico, evidence exists of very early cultivation and enjoyment of
Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens. Capsicum has reportedly been used as a spice by ancient
Incan, Aztec and Mayan cultures, and remains of chili, or xilli, a larger Capsicum variety cultivated from at least
3,000 BC, were found in pottery from Puebla and Oaxaca. According to secondary sources, Capsicum was a
staple of the Aztec diet. Culinarily, chilies are used in many foods throughout Mexico today.
Middle Eastern Medicine: In Pakistan, Capsicum annuum fruit is used as an omen against
"the evil eye" and giant yellow fever. Capsicum frutescens is used in traditional Sikh medicine. ("Sikh"
is a religion endemic to India.)
Modern (Western) Herbal Medicine: If Dr. John R. Christopher is the grandfather of medicinal
herbs here in America, Samuel Thomson is the godfather. In the 1800s, Samuel Thomson (the correct spelling of his
name is spelled Thomson not Thompson as verified by both historical documents and various master herbalists like
Dr. John R. Christopher so be advised accordingly), a physician of the eclectic medicine movement, believed cayenne
to be a useful remedy for diseases caused by cold temperatures. It was often combined with other therapies such as emetic herbs and steam baths.
Later, in the mid 20th century, the well-known herbalist and naturopathic doctor Dr. John R. Christopher of
Utah and Wyoming spoke widely of the many uses of cayenne, such as for cardiovascular disorders, ulcers, and
asthma. (He especially emphasized its many cardiovascular benefits and to a lesser degree its secondary
systemic capabilities, i.e., emetic, accentuator, activator, carrier, etc.)
Today, cayenne pepper (or as Capsicum as some herbalists call it) is recommended by herbalists for a
whole host of problems but most prominently as as a circulatory and metabolic stimulant. It's also used as a
treatment and preventative agent for upper respiratory infections, dyspepsia, colic and flatulence, and
topically in the form of a liniment or ointment for arthritis, rheumatism, low back pain and myalgia (muscle pain).
One common preparation used for sore throat is a tea or gargle of cayenne, lemon juice and honey. Cayenne pepper
has been reported as a commonly used herbal product in Canada for patients with cardiovascular disease.
In addition, cayenne pepper is widely used by skilled master herbalists as one of the core ingredients in
various herbal concoctions as it is an accentuator medicinal spice. Cayenne has been used by Americans since at
least the early 20th century although there are certainly historical records that show it was used in the mid to
late 19th century.
Native American Medicine: According to secondary sources, cayenne pepper (and chili
peppers and chili powder) has been used by Native Americans as both food and medicine for at least 9,000
years. Native Americans have reportedly used cayenne as a stimulant. It may have also been an Indian ritual snuff
South American Medicine: Cayenne has been used as a folk remedy for weak digestion, as an
appetite stimulant and as a circulatory stimulant for circulatory disorders. To this day, it is still quite
I hope this historical uses of cayenne web page has been useful to you.
Yours in health,
P.S. 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. Alternatively, a price list of many different cayenne pepper
products is here.
Historical Uses of Cayenne. (2011, Feb.) Retrieved from http://www.naturalstandard.com/news/news201102062.asp.