Cayenne pepper is named after the capital of French Guiana. Bet you didn’t know that! More importantly, do you know about cayenne pepper’s health benefits?

That’s right, in addition to being a) delicious b) colorful and c) a good ant repellent, cayenne pepper has many health benefits. The chili is native to Central and South America and has been an important component of Native American medicine and food for thousands of years. Chinese and Ayuvedic medicines also use cayenne pepper for treating circulatory problems and improving appetite. Capsaicin, the active ingredient that makes cayenne pepper so spicy, is commonly used for treating muscle and joint pains. Cayenne peppers also have a lot of good vitamins and nutrients, like vitamin C, B6, E, potassium, magnanese, and flavonoids. Flavonoids mean this chili has antioxidants!

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology further found that cream made from capsaicin, that part of the chili responsible for spiciness, can help cancer survivors by reducing post surgical neuropathic pain. Wow!

Topical application of capsaicin cream can also help treat itching associated with psoriasis and the pain of cluster headaches. And, if taken internally, capsaicin might be a new therapeutic option for cluster headaches because it can desensitize sensory neurons by depleting the nerve terminals of substance P, the neuropeptide associated with inflammation and pain.

Cayenne does come with a few warnings when used medicinally, however. As anyone who has ever chopped one up in food preparation knows, the oils can burn your eyes if they’re still on your fingers. Same goes for medical capsaicin cream! People who are on ACE inhibitors like captopril or elarotril or stomach acid reducers should avoid taking cayenne. Drug interactions with ACE inhibitors and cayenne include increased risk of cough. And since cayenne can increase stomach acid, it lessens the effectiveness of stomach acid reducers like famotidine and cimetidine.

Read the entire article here: What are the benefits of cayenne?