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Cayenne Pepper

    Cayenne pepper is a chili pepper often used as a spice and for health purposes. A member of the capsicum plant family, cayenne pepper has anti-inflammatory, cleansing and detoxifying properties. It is often used to reduce symptoms from common ailments such as sore throat, fever, and heartburn.[1]

    Many fat burning supplements include this fruit as an ingredient because it contains capsaicin. Capsaicin is the component that makes peppers spicy. At 50,000 Scoville units — which measure capsaicin quantities — cayenne pepper is 6 times hotter than the spiciest jalapeno pepper.

    Besides adding heat to food, capsaicin increases body heat production (thermogenesis). Supposedly, thermogenesis enhances fat loss, which is why fat burning supplements include capsaicin.

    Cayenne pepper is an excellent source of vitamin A. By reducing irritation, cayenne pepper relieves sore throats, coughs, and diarrhea. It breaks up mucus to prevent congestion and relieves cold and flu symptoms. It also lessens inflammation, which improves allergies, arthritis, diabetes, and psoriasis.[1]

    Cayenne pepper stimulates the digestive tract, increases enzyme production, and aids metabolism.[2] By preventing blood clots, it reduces atherosclerosis and improves heart health. It has temporary pain-relief properties, too.[1]

    In 2003, research tested cayenne pepper’s effect on weight loss. Additional studies were conducted in the following years. According to research, the fruit…

    • Suppresses appetite [3][4]
    • Increases heat production [5][6]
    • Burns calories [5][6]

    Two different studies showed cayenne pepper suppresses appetite. Fifteen minutes after eating a spicy meal, participants in the first study had lower ghrelin levels (a hunger-stimulating hormone). This led to a decrease in appetite.[3]

    During the second study, participants felt fewer cravings for fatty, salty, and sweet foods after eating a spicy meal. Their food intake decreased as a result, and they burn an extra 10 calories.[4]

    Additional studies showed cayenne pepper stimulates thermogenesis — a heat-producing process that burns calories. Consequently, consuming the spice enhanced participants’ ability to burn fat and prevent fat gain.[5][6]

    While tolerance for spicy foods varies, common cayenne pepper side effects include:

    • Burning Sensation
    • Stomach Irritation And Upset
    • Sweating
    • Flushing
    • Runny Nose

    These side effects diminish over time as the body builds up a heat tolerance.[7]

    Because it affects circulation and blood clotting, cayenne pepper may interact with blood thinning medication.[8] Ask your pharmacist to learn more about the risk.

    Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume cayenne pepper because medical professionals do not know what effect the spice has on babies.[8]

    Do not take cayenne pepper two weeks before a scheduled surgery or it may increase bleeding.

    Researchers have not established recommended dosages for cayenne pepper. Instead, they suggest using the spice “as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.”[8]

    For weight loss, the following dosages were tested during clinical studies:

    • 1,000 mg a day[4]
    • 6 mg capsaicin a day (capsaicin is a cayenne pepper extract)[5]
    • 135 mg a day[6]
    • 833 mg three times a day[2]

    Dosages up to 5,000 mg a day are considered safe.[9] Consult your doctor before taking large cayenne pepper dosages; especially if you take medication or have a medical condition.

    To reduce side effects, take cayenne pepper with food. Always drink a large glass of water when you take the spice in pill-form.

    Some cayenne pepper products are applied externally. Wash your hands thoroughly after applying the product and avoid eye contact.

    • [1] Brett, Jennifer. “Cayenne Pepper: Herbal Remedies.” Discovery Fit & Health. Discovery Communications, LLC.
    • [2] University of Michigan Health System.
    • [3] Smeets, AJ, and MS Westerterp-Plantenga. “The acute effects of a lunch containing capsaicin on energy and substrate utilisation, hormones, and satiety.” European Journal of Nutrition. 48.4 (2009): 229-34.
    • [4] Ludy, MJ, and RD Mattes. “The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite.” Physiology & Behavior. 102.3-4 (2011): 251-8.
    • [5] Snitker, S, Y Fujishima, et al. “Effects of novel capsinoid treatment on fatness and energy metabolism in humans: possible pharmacogenetic implications.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 89.1 (45-50).
    • [6] Lejeune, MP, EM Kovacs, et al. “Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects.” British Journal of Nutrition. 90.3 (2003): 651-9.
    • [7] Goodman, Brenda. “Cayenne Pepper May Burn Calories, Curb Appetite.” WebMD. WebMD, Inc, 27 Apr 2010.
    • [8] “Capsicum.” Drugs.com, 15 Dec 2010.
    • [9] PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd Edition; Joerg Gruenwald; 2000

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