Cayenne Pepper: Herbal Remedies

Preparations and Warnings for Cayenne Pepper

Like all herbs, there are some precautions you should take before using cayenne pepper medicinally.

Cayenne Pepper Preparations and Dosage

To clear a head cold and relieve sinus pain and congestion, try drinking a cup of tea made with lemon and ginger or some horseradish to which you've added a dash or two of cayenne pepper.

Cayenne Pepper Precautions and Warnings

If you've ever accidentally rubbed your eyes after cutting hot peppers, you know this herb should be handled carefully. Cayenne pills may cause a burning sensation in the throat, stomach, or rectum of sensitive individuals. Some people may tolerate cayenne fluid preparations or combination products better than tablets or capsules. Others may find cayenne pepper in the diet easier to digest than cayenne medications.

Use small, cautious doses only. Avoid getting cayenne into the eyes or open wounds. Do not use topical applications of cayenne products too frequently, as there is some concern that nerve damage could occur with daily repetitive use. Cayenne placed directly on the skin can cause burns and even blisters, so dilute a cayenne preparation in oil before placing it on the skin, or mix it with flour and water until it forms a paste, which you can spread on muslin to prepare a poultice. You also can mix cayenne with orris root powder and dust it very lightly on heavily oiled skin, working it in with massage.

Do not use cayenne in cases of high fever (104 degrees Fahrenheit or above). Cayenne preparations are not recommended for use by individuals who have rapid heart rates or who become overheated or perspire easily. Avoid internal use of cayenne in cases of asthma and gastrointestinal irritation or inflammation, except under the supervision of an experienced herbalist. Do not use cayenne on broken skin.

When cooking or making medicines with cayenne peppers, you must take into account the widely varying intensities (heat) of different peppers -- from very mild to extremely fiery. There is even considerable variance in heat of peppers from the same bush throughout the season or due to the health and size of the pepper. Always taste peppers first.Side Effects of Cayenne PepperCayenne peppers are a member of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade, family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and tobacco. A very few individuals have an intolerance to this entire family, experiencing symptoms that can include joint pain after eating even a small amount of these foods. To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:

  • For an overview of all of our herbal remedies, go to the main Herbal Remedies page.
  • To learn more about treating medical conditions at home, visit our main Home Remedies page.
  • One of the best things you can do for your health and well being is to make sure you are getting enough of the vital nutrients your body needs. Visit our Vitamins page to learn more.  

Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.