For the past 9,000 years, Native Americans have employed cayenne pepper as both a food and medicine, and for good reason.
Cayenne pepper has powerful pain-relieving properties when applied topically, which comes from the impact of the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, capsaicin.
Capsaicin stimulates nerve endings so they release a receptor chemical, substance P, that transmits pain signals to the brain. When a nerve ending has released all of its substance P reserves, pain signals are no longer sent to the brain until substance P has been replenished. The result is pain relief for chronic conditions, including arthritis, bursitis, psoriasis, shingles, joint and muscle pain, post-surgery pain, pain due to nerve damage caused by diabetic neuropathy, and low back pain.
In one study, a man who experienced continuous pain due to injuries from a bomb explosion used a high concentration capsaicin patch and experienced an 80% reduction in pain symptoms.
Capsaicin is like the laser technology of herbs. Just as a laser can either cut through steel or perform the most delicate eye surgery, so this fiery pepper can either inflict pain or relieve it. As capsaicin interacts with nerve endings, initially it produces pain, but quickly depletes the substance P, so that the brain no longer receives the message of pain. The result is pain relief.
Capsaicin as a natural pain reliever does not pose the risks associated with common NSAIDs and other pain-relieving drugs.
So whether you’re dealing with joint and muscle pain after a hard workout at the gym, or agonizing over the pain of arthritis, a medical procedure, or even shingles, capsaicin applied as a cream or a patch can offer you relief.
To use, apply capsaicin in small doses and do not overuse. Avoid getting capsaicin in or near the eyes, nose or open wounds. Do not use capsaicin with a hot pad or immediately before or after a hot shower.
There are also benefits to consuming cayenne pepper. Taken internally, capsaicin can improve circulation, boost your immune system, aid your digestive process, treat migraines, and even provide relief from ulcers. Interestingly, however, studies have shown that capsaicin is more effective when eaten as opposed to swallowed as a capsule. The fiery sensation in the mouth appears to be an important precursor to the pain relief you can expect as this wonder herb travels through your intestinal tract and bloodstream.
A great drink to consume every morning is the combining 8 ounces of warm water, the juice and skin from one organic lemon, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar 30 minutes prior to consuming any other foods. You will experience not only the benefits of cayenne pepper, but also those of lemons and apple cider vinegar, including increased mood, energy and improved digestion.