Cayenne pepper is a hot chili pepper in the Capsicum family that is frequently added to dishes to enhance their flavor.

This article looks at the nutritional content of cayenne pepper, its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more cayenne pepper into the diet, and any potential health risks.

This feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.

Fast facts on cayenne pepper

Here are some key points about cayenne pepper. More detail is in the main article.

  • The chili originated in Central and South America, and it is named after a city of the same name in French Guiana.
  • Cayenne pepper has been a part of Native American cuisine and medicine for at least 9,000 years.
  • Many of the health benefits of cayenne pepper are attributed to the ingredient capsaicin.
  • The pepper contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, and flavonoids.
  • Open wounds or breaks in the skin should not be exposed to capsaicin.

Cayenne pepper may have a range of health benefits.

Relieving pain

Capsaicin, the active ingredient found in cayenne peppers, may have pain-relieving properties.

One of research into cayenne pepper's ability to reduce pain, concluded that it may have benefits as a long-term analgesia, without bringing about other sensory changes.

Capsaicin has also been shown to reduce the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. With less substance P, fewer pain messages reach the brain, and .

Creams or ointments containing 0.025-0.075 percent purified capsaicin have been shown in several double-blind studies to and tenderness caused by osteoarthritis. The suggested use for chronic pain is to apply the topical cream or ointment four times daily to the site of pain. However, there are reports of side effects.

Animal studies have also shown a when taking capsaicin orally or by injection.

Capsaicin is currently used in topical ointments and creams to relieve pain and tenderness from osteoarthritis, nerve pain from shingles, pain after surgery, pain from diabetic neuropathy, and lower back pain.

Capsaicin has been investigated in relation to cancer treatment and pain relief related to cancer. It appears to be pain. However, conflicting that it may help prevent cancer, or that it may promote tumor growth. Caution is recommended.

Burning calories and suppressing appetite

There are many products containing cayenne pepper that claim to boost metabolism and promote weight loss. However, not all scientific studies agree. Researchers at Purdue University found that cayenne pepper consumption slightly, which would, in turn, burn calories.

Modest were found in another study after the ingestion of 10 grams of cayenne pepper. However, this was a large dose, and it would need to be repeated at each meal.

No follow-up studies have been carried out to show whether these small effects result in weight loss.

The results of the research revealed that those who mixed cayenne pepper with their food burned an additional 10 calories 4 hours after eating their meal compared with those who did not add cayenne.

Many studies have looked at cayenne or capsaicin combined with other ingredients, so the ingredient responsible for results cannot be differentiated. More research is needed before cayenne or capsaicin is used as a weight-loss supplement.

Relieving congestion

Cayenne pepper is often used as a for coughs, colds, and congestion. There are no studies to support this use, but cayenne to temporarily relieve congestion by shrinking the blood vessels in the nose and throat.

One popular home recipe combines 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of water to take by the teaspoon. Other people mix cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar into a hot tea to clear the sinuses.

According to the , one tablespoon of cayenne pepper, weighing 5.3 grams (g) contains:

Other nutrients include vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, and folate. It is also high in flavonoids and carotenoids, which give the spice its red color.