Popular in various traditional cuisines and medicinal preparations, cayenne pepper contains nutrients that are known to deliver health benefits. Belonging to the capsicum family, cayenne pepper is typically dried, ground, and used as a powdered ingredient in various cuisines. It has been used in traditional medicine for treating various problems including circulation-related issues. The following sections offer a detailed look at the pepper, including possible cayenne pepper side effects to help users be aware of the potential adverse effects. This will help users take suitable preventive and mitigative actions to lessen the effects.

Overview of cayenne pepper

The main active ingredient of cayenne pepper is capsaicin, which is responsible for the spicy flavor. This is also one of the reasons why it is effective in helping treat pain, as capsaicin is known to be an effective pain-relieving ingredient. Here is a quick look at the popular and proven benefits of cayenne pepper. It is considered to be effective in bringing down inflammation, apart from popular proven outcomes in pain management. It is also known to deliver results in individuals looking to manage weight, apart from being an effective option to relieve itching. In addition to the above, it is widely used in managing congestion and the common cold. It is known to possess protective properties that make it suitable to protect the nervous system.

Benefits – mere claims or facts?

Many of the above-mentioned benefits are anecdotal in nature, with some benefits requiring scientific substantiation. However, the mechanism of action of the active ingredients and the properties of cayenne pepper makes it easy to understand the potential uses and benefits. For instance, it is known to help boost antioxidants by virtue of vitamin C, vitamin E, choline, zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene. The typical red color of cayenne pepper is attributed to cryptoxanthin, the carotenoid pigment.

It is widely accepted and proven that antioxidants are responsible for a wide range of health benefits, by eliminating and neutralizing free radicals. The removal of free radicals helps prevent the harmful effects that are attributed to the build-up of free radicals.  This includes the prevention and management of ailments such as heart conditions, cancer, and age-related degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Studies that prove benefits among patients with cold

Studies conducted on groups of participants prove that cayenne pepper is indeed effective in fighting cold and congestion. Symptoms typically attributed to cold and congestion, such as running nose, sneezing, and congestion was mitigated with preparations containing cayenne pepper. This is also actually limited to conditions or symptoms that were not caused by allergies to smoking.  The mechanism of action of capsaicin, in reversing the dilation in blood vessels in the throat and the nose were mainly attributed to the relief from the above conditions. The studies relied on sprays that contained cayenne pepper, and the results were witnessed in a short time of ten minutes from the time of spraying.

Antibacterial properties

Cayenne pepper is also known to possess antibacterial properties, and studies have demonstrated that it has helped in fighting strep throat disease that is caused by the bacteria A Streptococci. This may be achieved either through a preparation that includes cayenne pepper in a home remedy or through products available off the shelf.

Pain-relieving effects

Cayenne pepper, through the main active ingredient capsaicin, is known to be effective in managing pain. Products available as cream formulations are available commercially and the benefits are attributed to the mechanism of action that reduces substance P. Also known as SP, the substance P is a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator that is responsible for transmitting messages. By reducing the amount of this neurotransmitter, the pain messages sent to the brain are reduced, thereby helping individuals experience lesser pain.

Topical creams containing cayenne pepper are typically used for helping patients with osteoarthritis, by relieving pain as well as the tenderness associated with the condition. As mentioned above, cayenne pepper is known to be effective in reducing inflammation and the combined effects of relieving pain and inflammation help deliver positive outcomes. In addition to topical applications, oral formulations are also known to be effective, and supplements containing capsaicin have been used for managing pain and discomfort among sporting personalities.

Effective in managing itching (pruritus)

By virtue of the antibacterial properties of capsaicin, cayenne pepper is effective in managing strep throat – mentioned earlier. It is also effective in treating skin conditions like impetigo and cellulitis, apart from offering relief from itching. Various skin conditions are known to induce itching, such as psoriasis, and cayenne pepper in different formulations may help relieve itching. In addition to this, itching is also attributed to dialysis, and the use of cayenne pepper products helps in relieving the condition.

Weight management with cayenne pepper

One of the claimed properties of cayenne pepper includes weight management benefits. This is attributed to the improved metabolism that in turn is known to induce weight loss. While additional research and further analysis are required to substantiate and scientifically prove the claims, studies have demonstrated the effects. For instance, groups of participants in a study have reported an increase in body temperature with an intake of 1 gram of cayenne pepper. This is known to help burn extra calories, apart from a change in dietary preferences. Participants on capsaicin supplements have reported a distinct disinterest in consuming food that was sweet, salted, or with high levels of fat.  Two groups of participants – one on the product and another on the placebo showed different findings at the end of three months. The group on the product had an almost a six percent reduction in body fat.

Benefits to the immunity system

Cayenne pepper is known to boost the immunity system. This in turn is known to help individuals ward off diseases with lesser exposure to infections. A weakened immune system is responsible for lesser energy levels, cayenne pepper boosting immunity helps prevent infections. The vitamin Ain the pepper is known to prevent the entry of pathogens into the body and thereby ensuring that the individual does not fall sick.

Bringing down cholesterol levels

Cayenne Pepper is known to have a positive impact on cholesterol levels by lowering bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol, also known as VLDL or LDL is responsible for the thickening of the arteries, and this, in turn, increases the stress on the heart. As a result, there is a gradual adverse effect on the functioning of the heart, and in a limited number of cases can result in fatalities. Remedial measures include a reduction in LDL, and VLDL levels, and an increase in HDL levels through medication, dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and supplements. Cayenne pepper as a proven ingredient in formulations helps in increasing HDL levels and lowering LDL levels. This is achieved by balancing the levels of HDL and LDL. In addition to this, cayenne pepper also dissolves fibrin, thereby preventing heart diseases. Fibrin induces blood clot formation, and by reducing fibrin, the risk of blood clots and heart diseases is significantly reduced.

Benefits to throat and digestion

In addition to the above benefits, cayenne pepper is also known to be effective in healing the throat and aiding digestion. The presence of vitamin C helps in managing the throat, while the effects in aiding digestion are attributed to boosting good bacteria levels. Cayenne pepper increases the production of enzymes in the stomach, apart from an increase in the production of gastric juices. This helps to improve digestion considerably, and this, in turn, helps eliminate various health conditions linked to poor digestive health.

Benefits to patients with asthma and cancer

Another benefit that may not have been widely known among users is the positive effect on individuals diagnosed with asthma. Beta carotene in cayenne pepper is known to alleviate the effects of respiratory issues linked to asthma, by improving the functioning of the breathing tract and the lungs thereby offering considerable relief to asthmatic patients.

Additionally, the presence of anti-oxidants in cayenne pepper is known to have a positive effect on individuals with cancer. This is especially true in the case of patients with cancer of the colon and atherosclerosis.

Commonly reported cayenne pepper side effects

With the benefits listed out, it is time to look at the possible undesirable effects of cayenne pepper. All products, medications, OTC formulations, herbal supplements, nutraceuticals, and natural remedies come with the burden of possible undesirable effects. These effects may be pronounced and stronger in certain individuals while others may experience mild or moderate effects. The category of users is those who may not experience any side effects whatsoever. The intensity and duration of effects depend on various factors – the dosage (quantity), the duration of intake, the frequency of use, the condition being treated or managed, possible existing health complications, and the use of medications that may interact with the new medication/product/supplement.

Here is a look at some of the possible unwanted outcomes of cayenne pepper. It is necessary to note that this is merely a compilation of some of the commonly reported unwanted effects. It is not exhaustive in nature and does not list out all possible effects. It is also necessary to bear in mind that not all users are likely to experience side effects, some may not experience any kind of unwanted outcome.

Unsuitable for patients with a history of allergies and digestive conditions

Individuals with certain stomach and digestive-related conditions may not be suitable to take the product. For instance, as cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, it is not suitable for individuals with GERD and IBS. Acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome, these conditions may trigger allergic reactions to certain food products. This may also be experienced as a result of the intake of cayenne pepper. Though it is not common, but rare in occurrence, the possibility exists. Individuals experiencing symptoms that are similar to hives, or difficulty in breathing after consuming cayenne pepper are to seek medical attention at the earliest. Other symptoms that require attention include swelling and anaphylaxis – the latter is regarded as a serious and life-threatening reaction that needs treatment on priority at a healthcare facility.

It is necessary to restrict the intake of cayenne pepper to the recommended levels. It is also important for all users to bear in mind that the mechanism of action of the ingredients results in an increase in body temperature. It is therefore essential to reduce intake during summers as excessive heat may trigger unpleasant and undesirable outcomes.

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