Capsaicin - Capisicunn frutescens; Capsicum annum
2007-02-06 11:47:46
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Botanical Name:
Capisicunn frutescens; Capsicum annum
Common Names:
Cayenne, African Pepper, Bird Pepper, Capsicum, Chili Pepper, Red Pepper, Spanish Pepper, Zanzibar Pepper
Capsaicin is an herb derived from Cayenne peppers. Capsaicin is said to directly impact the nerves by sending a message directly to the brain to stop the signal of pain. The brain responds by increasing the amount of endorphins being dispersed, thereby temporarily reducing the physical feelings of pain. It has been more commonly used to reduce pain through topical creams; however, there are other uses for capsaicin, as well as other methods to consume the herb.
Although capsaicin isn’t directly used for anxiety, it does increase the amount of endorphins that are released by the brain. Endorphins are similar to morphine and provide a calming effect to the body. The pain relieving benefits of capsaicin can also reduce the anxiety that comes with the pain.
The main use for capsaicin is pain relief, including joint pain, muscle pain, and nerve pain. However, capsaicin can also be used for throat problems, Chills, colds, and to help stimulate the digestive system. Capsaicin has also been used to help treat Itching, psoriasis, and neuropathy associated with diabetic and HIV patients. Capsaicin has also been linked to increased levels of concentration and energy, and has been said to have anti-bacterial qualities, as well. The benefits of capsaicin are numerous.
Plant Description
Capsaicin is an herb found in the Cayenne plant. Cayenne is a very common perennial tropical plant. It is found in North America, where it has been cultivated since the mid-sixteenth century. More commonly, Cayenne is found in homes across the North American continent where it is used as a cooking spice.
Cayenne grows up to three or more feet. The plant branches out at the top. From the months of April through September, white or yellow pairs of flowers bloom. These flowers eventually will turn into the "fruit" of the plant, or, rather, the peppers. When they are ripe, they will vary in color with shades ranging from yellow to red.
What’s It Made Of?
Since capsaicin is found in the Cayenne plant, specifically in the pepper, you will need to harvest the peppers. To do so, you will have to pick them when they are ripe, then dry them to obtain the capsaicin. Once it is harvested, it can be combined with oils, mixed with water, put into capsules, or made into a topical cream for a variety of treatments. Cayenne can also be home grown, and is available at different nurseries. Speak with someone who is familiar with the plant and can advise you on how to properly grow and harvest the Cayenne plant.
Available Forms
One of the most commonly used forms of capsaicin is a topical cream. Capsaicin in cream form is used to relieve general body aches and pains. However, in addition to the topical cream, capsaicin is also available in a variety of other forms, as well.
Capsaicin can be made into a Tincture or an extract. It can be dried or crushed into a powder and taken as is, or it can be made into capsule form. The powder can even be made into another liquid form. Of course, the main form of capsaicin is the Cayenne pepper.
Capsaicin can be used as a fruit compress, gargle, ointment, powder, or Tincture. For a gargle, dilute the Tincture in a glass of warm water. For an ointment, infuse the capsaicin powder with oil then apply. For an infusion, add boiling water to the capsaicin powder. There are many additional forms of capsaicin that can be made from already existing forms.
How to Take It
As with all herbal supplements, you should consult with a doctor before you begin to take capsaicin. Seeds for Cayenne peppers are toxic, and should not be ingested. Capsaicin should not be ingested if you have ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders, or liver damage. Also, capsaicin should not be used in the form of topical cream on broken skin.
The recommended dosage for capsaicin, as well as for any other herbal supplement, should be followed. For external application, the recommended starting dose is a 0.025% capsaicin topical cream. It should be applied four times per day and evaluated for results after a minimum of four weeks. If the desired results are not achieved, speak to a healthcare professional before moving up to a 0.075% capsaicin topical cream. The usual duration is between four to six weeks.
Although capsaicin is a natural herb, there are some precautions to taking the herb, both orally and externally. Capsaicin has been said to help enhance the quality of other herbs, so take more precaution when combining capsaicin with other herbal supplements. Speak with a health care professional before beginning any type of herbal supplement.
Capsaicin is responsible for the spiciness of Cayenne, and therefore can produce a burning sensation when applied or ingested. Make sure to wear gloves when applying capsaicin topical cream, and apply to the skin only, avoiding mucous membranes. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward to help prevent getting the capsaicin cream into your eyes, mouth, or nose.
When taking capsaicin in other forms, follow the recommended dosage. Capsaicin in powder form can cause a temporary Cough when inhaled. Also, other ingestible forms of capsaicin, if used in excess, can cause gastrointestinal problems, including Diarrhea accompanied with a burning sensation. A great trick to help prevent gastrointestinal problems is to follow the capsaicin with cool yogurt or milk.
Pregnant or nursing mothers should speak with a health care professional beforehand. It has not been established yet as to whether capsaicin is safe to use during pregnancy or while nursing.
Possible Interactions

There have been no known reported drug interactions with the use of the herb capsaicin. If you are currently on any medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there have been any reported interactions while taking any related herbal supplement. Let your doctor know the medications you are taking before you begin capsaicin. Also, avoid taking additional over the counter medications to achieve the same results as the capsaicin.

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