Unless you're out in California and the western part of the US, it's been a cold, cold winter! Maybe that's why I've been cooking more with cayenne pepper than normal. It warms my tummy and all the way to my toes! Did you know that cayenne has many health benefits, including warming your toes?

Cayenne is considered a  "heart-healthy" food, and since it's Heart Month, I thought I'd share a little about this sassy spice!

Cayenne is primarily considered a stimulant and is used with that in mind. You will find small amounts in many herbal combinations because it is believed to increase the effectiveness of other herbs as well.

Cayenne is a useful tonic for the circulatory and digestive systems. It stimulates blood flow which in turn strengthens the heart, blood vessels and nerves. This stimulating effect also benefits the immune system, which is why you'll find it in cold and flu remedies. Many herbalists recommend drinking some cayenne (1/8 to 1 tsp.) in warm water every day or even 3 times a day, to support the circulatory system, aid in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes, improve digestion and flatulence, ward off colds and flu, help with arthritis, decrease depression and ameliorate headaches. That's why it is considered a "general tonic." It's good for just about anything!

Cayenne is also popular now as a weight loss tool. It is believed to increase one's metabolism. Warning: when you swallow cayenne pills, you will not feel the heat going down. However, you WILL feel the heat coming out. Don’t say I didn't warn you! :)

If you suffer from cold hands and feet due to poor circulation, and want to harm those toes, you can add cayenne to your food and even drinks. See my blog entry for Hot and Sour Orange Smoothie, to learn how I used cayenne in that one! If you're not used to spicy foods, you'll want to start with a small amount and work your way up. Your body and taste buds will slowly develop a tolerance for it.

Cayenne is also used as a paste or tincture to apply to wounds, as well as sore muscles and joints. Many studies show that cayenne’s active ingredient, capsaicin, reduces pain. It relieves inflammation, increases circulation and is an antimicrobial herb. Look for it in many pain relief ointments. Here’s one you might want to check out:Khalili Cream

To learn about some of the ways cayenne is being studied today and for contraindications, go to this website. As always, if you have a health condition, talk to your doctor before adding any herbal treatment.


Hoffman, D. (1993).

An Elder's Herbal. Vermont: Healing Arts Press

Tierra, M. (1998).

The Way of Herbs. New York: Pocket Books

Williams, J. (2003).

Jude's Herbal Home Remedies. Minnesota: Llewellyn Press

Ehrlich, S. (2010).

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™