Capsicum annuum – Solidaceae Family
Cayenne peppers bring fire to our lives. Their red, flame-shaped fruit bring sweat to our brow and heat to our tongues. Many cooks keep a string of peppers flickering over their stove to kindle a warm, lively flavor in their dishes. Cooks and herbalists understand that cayenne knows how to unlock the secrets of both food and medicine.
Cayenne is called a carminative which means that it is rich in volatile oils that invigorate the digestive system. Many traditional healers add cayenne to their formulas to help the patient digest the herbs more completely and speed aid to the body.
Bite into a chili pepper and you will notice how your body heats up as the volatile oils speed up circulation within your body. Scientists are studying how, while this happens, cayenne is also pulling toxins from our deeper tissues and easing nerve pain. This is why you will find cayenne in both arthritis medication and sore muscle rubs. Chinese herbalists often refer to this as moving the “Chi” through the body.
To the Mayas, cayenne was an indispensable part of every home’s first aid kit. Pepper’s importance as an effective anti-microbial medicine was heavily relied on during the Spanish invasion of South America. Devastating injuries by European bullets were allowed to scar rather than kill because the subsequent bacterial infection was thwarted by cayenne. The modern healer is more likely to use cayenne for scrapes and colds but the memory of power behind burning fire of this herb still commands respect.
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