Monday, November 10, 2014

Herb of the week: Cayenne

This week we are going to look at a member of the Solanaceae  family. This family of herbs is most well know for the deadly nightshade. But it is also the most prolific herb on the planet with over 73, 000  species to the family. This family includes: potatoes, eggplant, all peppers and many other plants both eatable of ornamental. 

Cyaenne is Latin name is Capsicum annuum var frutescens . This plant is cultivated in the United States, New Zealand and Australia. The part of the plant that is use in culinary and medical practices is the the fruit or the pod. The pods or the fruit are collected when ripe and dried slowly in the shade. The can be spread on racks or the tops threaded with fine string and hing in a cool, dry and airy position.

This herb can be used to make infusions, oi, ointments, powders and tinctures. It can also be taken orally as a liniment.In powder from it can be rub in a the  gums to reduce inflammation. A cotton ball or wool saturated with a tincture can be placed against the tooth to help with a toothache.

The main active constituent is a potent alkaloid  called capsaicinn. The alkaloid content is highest in Capsicum frutescens and varies considerably depending on environmental factors. It also contains a number of volatile oils, capsacutin, capsico, flavonoid glycosides, and red coloring matter. Cayenne is high in vitamins C and A, magnesium, and potassium, and contains some B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, fats, and protein(Natural Standers. 2014) .

This herb has been used for: Arthritis, asthma, bleeding, burning sensations, chilblains, chills, circulatory system tonic and moderator, colds, cold extremities, colic, constipation, cough, cramps, dyspepsia, erythema, fibromyalgia, gums (inflamed), heart irregularities, hemorrhoids, lethargy, mucus (accumulation), neuralgias including shingles and diabetic neuropathy, osteoarthritis, pruritus, psoriasis, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, shock, skin lesions, toothache, throat (sore), ulcers (mouth), varicose veins, vomiting, and wounds
It combines well with marshmallow Althaea officinalis and meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria for flatulence or spasms in the digestive tract. For use as an antiseptic, combine with myrrh Commiphora myrrha.(Natural Standers. 2014) .

ti is beneficial to the circulatory system as a tonic.  Used over a period of time and in the correct dose, it is used to balance blood pressure, improve circulation, and assist arteries, veins, and capillaries to regain elasticity.(Natural Standers. 2014) .

The alkaloid capsaicin actually enlarges blood vessels, which enhances the flow of nutrients to the cells and the removal of waste products at a cellular level. It also appears to have antiplatelet effects.(Natural Standers. 2014) .

When cayenne is applied topically it does not irritate the skin but it can cause itching, burning, or pricking when first applied as cayenne actually stimulates the surface capillaries and brings blood to the skin surface. This may assist circulation in the area and flush out the buildup of uric acid and calcium deposits around the joints and in the tissues.(Natural Standers. 2014) .
Cayenne is a useful addition to many herbal formulae because of its ability to aid the distribution of other herbs throughout the body.

Used as a pain killer, well more of a pain relief, it son often applied topically.  It has been used to reeve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriasis, and neuralgias including shingles and diabetic neuropathy. Capsaicin used in topical preparations is FDA-approved for these uses.

Always use the minimum dose and increase dosage slowly, if necessary. Cayenne can be taken with food if nausea and burning occur.

Please consult your doctor before using any herb. 

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