Botanical name: 

Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 01:19:35 -0400
From: Deb Phillips <ARmidwife.AOL.COM>
Subject: Herb of the week

Let's get back to the herb of the week. How about cayenne? Many midwives have used it for postpartum bleeding. But others say it causes a delayed pp bleed. Anyone have any info on why it would just delay the bleed? I know it is good for circulation.

From: Timothy Lee <leeways.U.WASHINGTON.EDU>

> Let's get back to the herb of the week. How about cayenne?

I find cayenne very interesting because of one of its active ingredients known as capsaicin. Capsaicin cream is used in conventional medicine to treat various pain conditions. Capsaicin activates sensory nerve fibers causing an initial burning pain, but after repeated applications, it actually leads to reduced pain and inflammation. I have patients who have had good pain relief from degenerative arthritis and from post herpetic neuralgia using capsaicin cream. I have heard that capsaicin is also a vasodilator and by causing vasodilation in the stomach, it can help protect gastric mucosa from injury. I am not familiar with capsaicin use in post partum bleeding.

Here is a question I have for others. If topical capsaicin can help for chronic pain conditions, will eating capsaicin in the form of hot chilies help to reduce chronic generalized pain? I did a Medline search on capsaicin and came up with hundreds of studies. One study mentioned something about systemic capsaicin blocking pain fibers at the level of the spinal cord so I would assume this means it can cause a generalized analgesia.

Timothy Lee MD

From: "MG" <bj979.YFN.YSU.EDU>

>will eating capsaicin in the form of hot chilies help to reduce chronic generalized pain?

I can only speak from my own experience. I have neurological and rheumatoid autoimmune problems. If I go one day without my cayenne, the symptoms worsen. Psycological? Maybe, but I'm willing to continue with cayenne for the rest of my days. I have told many folks of my experience and after they've tried it they have also stuck with it. It not only seems to affect pain, but it increases the metabolism which boosts the effects of the other supplements I take.

BTW, I've read and studied and the only treatments I have come up with for atypical demylenization as well as autoimmune activity against GM1, asialogangliosides, parietal, striated muscle,MAG, sulfatides and several others are the following: Lecithin, choline, inositol, fish oils, GLA, gingko biloba, chamomile, scullcap, enzymes, sunflower seeds and oil, and dietary changes that restrict saturated fats, dairy, red meats.

If anyone has any other advice concerning a natural approach to neurological problems, I'd love to hear about it. I seem to be holding my own, but I can't ever stray from my regimen.

From: Anita F Hales <JSAFH.ACA.ALASKA.EDU>

Cayenne is a "stimulant" herb that does a wonderful job of staunching bleeding. I have used it on chronic nosebleeds with great success. I also use it on wounds to stop bleeding. It is almost instantaneous. For example, my dog recently cut her foot pad badly and it didn't seem to want to stop bleeding. I made an infusion of cayenne and put her foot in it. The bleeding stopped immediately and we were able to treat the wound with no further difficulties. A capsule of cayenne taken with warm water stops profuse nosebleeds quickly and effectively. An example would be my father who was a seaman and got a bad nosebleed that threatened to take him off the ship in Juneau AK. I recommended that he take a capsule of cayenne. Within 15 minutes his nosebleed stopped and furthermore, it never started again as he had experienced previously. That was the last of his chronic nosebleeds.

From: Jo Ann Keys <jakeys.HEVANET.COM>

Whenever I get a sore throat I take about 1/4 of a tsp of cayanne pepper and put it in some juice and drink it. I do this about 3 times a day and it really works.

From: Cunegonde.AOL.COM
Subject: A hot time on Uranus

>Cayenne also has been used for the treatment of external hemorrhoids...anybody have any experience with this use?

If you can persuade a close friend to rub cayenne pepper on them, it will produce a powerful cauterizing effect. But only on the friendship - not the hemorrhoids.

From: Michael Bailes <adamtfg.OZEMAIL.COM.AU>

Chilli facts.

  1. In general, the smaller a Chilli the hotter it is.
  2. Chillies make the body produce endorphins. These are natural painkillers that promote a sense of wellbeing and stimulation.
  3. There are over 200 known varieties of Chilli.
  4. Archeological evidence suggests that Chillies were used as a food ingredient at least 8,000 years ago around 6,200 B.C.
  5. The explorer, Christopher Colombus, thought he had found pepper when he came across Chilli in the New World. (Actually, true pepper comes from Piper nigrum, a tropical vine which bears no relationship to chillies). Nevertheless he christened his find, "Pepper" and that misnomer has persisted ever since particularly in Europe.
  6. The best antidotes to the hotness of Chillies are dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and ice cream.

(- from " The Great Chillie Book", by Mark Miller)

From: Michael Bailes. <adamtfg.OZEMAIL.COM.AU>

Samuel Thomson popularised chilli's use medicinally. I have an old copy of his book you might be interested in this extract:

Cayenne - Capsicum

(from Guide to Health - Samuel Thomson)

As this article is so well known, it will be unnecessary to be very particular in describing it. It has been a long time used for culinary purposes, and comes to us prepared for use by being ground to powder and a proportion of salt mixed with it; this destroys in some degree its stimulating effects, making it less pungent; and is not so good for medicine as in the pure state. It is said to be a native of South America and is cultivated in many of the West India Islands. That which comes to this country is brought from Demerara and Jamaica. It also grows in other parts of the world. I once bought one hundred pounds of it in the pod, which was brought from the coast of Guinea; had it ground at Portsmouth, and it was as good as any I ever used. There are several species that are described under the name of Capsicum; all of which are about the same as to the stimulating qualities. The pods only are used; they are long and pointed, are of a green colour till ripe, when they turn of a bright orange red. When the pods are green they are gathered and preserved in salt and water and brought to this country in bottles, then vinegar is put to them, and sold under the name of Pepper-sauce. The ripe pods ground to a powder is what is used for medicine and cooking; but the Pepper-sauce is very good to be taken as medicine and applied externally. The green pods hold their attracting power till ripe, and therefore keep their strength much longer when put in vinegar as the bottle may be filled a number of times and the strength seems to be the same; but when the ripe pods are put in vinegar, the first time will take nearly all the strength.

I shall not undertake to dispute but that Cayenne has been used for medical purposes long before I had any knowledge of it; and that it is one of the safest and best articles ever discovered to remove disease, I know to be a fact, from long experience; but it is equally true that the medical faculty never considered it of much value, and the people had no knowledge of it as a medicine, till I introduced it, by making use of it in my practice. Mention is made of Cayenne in the Edinburg Dispensatory, as chiefly employed for culinary purposes, but that of late it has also been employed in the practice of medicine. The author says, that "there can be little doubt that it furnishes one of the purest and strongest stimulants that can be introduced into the stomach; while at the same time it has nothing of the narcotic effect of ardent spirits. It is said to have been used with success in curing some cases of disease, that had resisted all other remedies."

All this, I am satisfied is true, for given as a medicine it will always be found useful; but all of the knowledge they had of it, seems to have been derived from a few experimentsthat had been made, without fixing upon any particular manner of preparing or administering it, or in what disease, as is the case with all other articles that are introduced into general practice. In Thatcher's Dispensatory, the same account is given of Cayenne, as in the Edinburg, and in almost the same words. I never had any knowledge of Cayenne being useful as a medicine, or that it ever had been used as such, till I discovered it by accident, as had been the case with most other articles used by me. After I had fixed upon a system for my government in practice, I found much difficulty in getting something that would not only produce a strong heat in the body, but would retain it till the canker could be removed and the digestive powers restored, so the food, by being properly digested, would maintain the natural heat. I tried a great number of articles that were of a hot nature; but could find nothing that would hold the heat any length of time.

I made use of ginger, mustard, horse-radish, peppermint, butternut bark, and many other hot things but they were all more or less volatile, and would not have the desired effect. With these, however, and the Emetic Herb, together with the aid of steam, I was enabled to practice with general success. In the fall of the year 1805, I was out in search of Umbil, on a mountain, in Walpole, New Hampshire. I went into a house at the foot of the mountain, to enquire for some rattlesnake oil; and while in the house, I saw a large string of red peppers hanging in the room, and the thought struck me that this might be the article I had so long sought, for the purpose of raising and retaining internal heat. I knew them to be very hot; but did not know of what nature. I obtained these peppers, carried them home, reduced them to powder, and took some of the powder myself and found it to answer the purpose better than anything else I had made use of. I put it in spirit with the Emetic Herb, and gave the tincture mixed in a tea of Witch-hazle leaves, and found that it would retain the heat in the stomach after puking; and preserve the strength of the patient in proportion. I made use of it in different ways, for two years, and always with good success.

In the fall of 1807, I was in Newburyport, and saw a bottle of pepper-sauce. Being the first I had ever seen, I bought it, got some of the same kind of pepper, that was dried, which I put into the bottle; this made it very hot. On my way home, I was taken unwell, and was quite cold I took a swallow from the bottle, which caused violent pain for a few minutes, when it produced perspiration, and I soon grew easy. I afterwards tried it and found that after it had expelled the cold it would not cause pain. From these experiments I became convinced that this kind of pepper was much stronger and would be better for medical use than the common red pepper. Soon after this I was again in Newburyport, and made inquiry and found some Cayenne, but it was prepared with salt for table use which injured it for medical purposes. I tried it by tasting, and selected that which had the least salt in it. I afterwards made use of this article and found it to answer all the purposes wished and was the very thing I had long been in search of.

The next year I went to Portsmouth and made inquiries concerning Cayenne, and from those who dealt in the article, I learned that it was brought to this country from Demarara and Jamaica, prepared only for table use and the salt was put with it to preserve it and make it more palatable. I became acquainted with a French gentleman who had a brother in Demarara, and made arrangements with him to send to his brother and request him to procure some and have it prepared without salt. He did so, and sent out a box containing about eighty pounds in a pure state. I sent also by many others that were going to the places where it grows to procure all they could; in consequence of which, large quantities were imported into Portsmouth, much more than there was immediate demand for. I was not able to purchase but a small part of what was brought, and it was bought up by others on speculation, and sent to Boston; the consequence was that the price was so much reduced, that it would not bring the first cost, which put a stop it its being imported, and it has since been very scarce.

When I first began to use this article, it caused much talk among the people in Portsmouth and the adjoining towns. The doctors tried to frighten them by saying that I made use of Cayenne pepper as a medicine, and that it would burn up the stomach and lungs as bad as vitriol. The people, generally, however, became convinced by using it, that what the doctors said about it was false, and it only proved their ignorance of its medicinal virtues, and their malignity towards me. It soon came into general use, and the knowledge of its being useful in curing disease, was spread all through the country. I made use of it in curing the spotted fever, and where it was known, it was the only thing depended on for that disease. I have made use of Cayenne in all kinds of disease, and have given it to patients of all ages and under every circumstance that has come under my practice; and can assure the public that it is perfectly harmless, never having known it to produce any bad effects whatever.

It is, no doubt, the most powerful stimulant known; its power is entirely congenial to nature, being powerful only in raising and maintaining that heat on which life depends. It is extremely pungent, and when taken, sets the mouth,.as it were, on fire; this lasts, however, but a few minutes, and I consider it essentially a benefit, for its effects on the glands causes the saliva to flow freely and leaves the mouth clean and moist

The only preparation necessary, is to have it ground or pounded to a find powder. For a dose, from half to a teaspoonful may be taken in hot water, sweetened, or the same quantity may be mixed with either of the other numbers taken. It will produce a free perspiration, which should be kept up by repeating the dose, until the disease is removed. A spoonful, with an equal quantity of common salt, put into a gill of vinegar, makes a very good sauce, to be eaten on meat, and will assist the appetite and strengthen the digestion. One spoonful of this preparation may be taken to good advantage, and will remove faint, sinking feelings, which some are subject to, especially in the spring of the year. Pepper sauce is good for the same purpose. A teaspoonful of cayenne may be taken in a tumbler of cider, and is much better than ardent spirit. There is scarce any preparation of medicine that I make use of, in which I do not put some of this article. It will cure the ague in the face, by taking a dose, and tying a small quantity in fine cloth, and putting it between the cheek and teeth on the side that is affected at the same time setting by the fire covered with a blanket. It is good to put on old sores.

Red Peppers

These are very plenty in this country, being cultivated in gardens, and are principally made use of for pickling, for which purpose the pods are gathered when green, and preserved in vinegar. It is of the same nature as Cayenne pepper, but not so strong; and is the best substitute for that article of any thing I have found. For medical use, they should not be gathered till ripe, when they are of a bright red colour; they should be reduced to a fine powder, and may be used instead of Cayenne, when that article cannot be obtained.