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Some like it hot
In 700 BCE Aztec kings had a sacred food that only they were permitted to consume. They often mixed it with chocolate, another exclusive treat. Christopher Columbus named it red pepper when he found it in North America and he took it back to Europe with him. Many eat it, but few people are aware of just how powerful this revered royal condiment is. We explain the benefits of turning up the heat.

What’s the big deal?
According to a recent study featuring hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens, cayenne pepper was found to have a range of health benefits. Dr Timothy Bates, in a research study at Nottingham University, found that capsaicin (the active ingredient in cayenne) killed laboratory grown cancer cells. Capsaicin has been listed in respected medical dictionaries and manuals, including the The American Illustrated Medical Dictionary.

Additionally, the Merck medical manual has included cayenne pepper in its listings as a medicine. Why? Cayenne is the most powerful natural stimulant known to man. When you eat spicy, hot peppers, your face immediately flushes and your heart beats faster. You feel your sinuses and chest opening up and you may even cough or blow your nose. Capsaicin gets the blood flowing fast! It stimulates the mucous membranes and salivary glands and aids in the production of bile for digestion of your food. It also has antimicrobial effects and helps kill some foodborne bacteria, reducing your chances of food poisoning.

The benefits of cayenne pepper
1 Heart health
Dilates blood vessels, helps reduce arterial plaque and nourishes the heart without increasing blood pressure.
2 Analgesic
Cayenne is a common ingredient in pain-relieving creams.
3 Anti-inflammatory
It is used in preparations for arthritis, bursitis, asthma, conjunctivitis, bleeding gums and allergies.
4 Catalyst
Cayenne pepper boosts the effects of other herbs, compounding their beneficial effects.
5 Reduces indigestion
It helps reduce bloating (dyspepsia) and kills the H.Pylori bacteria that cause ulcers. It also stimulates the stomach-lining mucous coating, preventing acid from burning the stomach. Lastly, by increasing blood flow to the digestive system, it encourages intestinal healing.
6 Cholesterol vacuum
It emulsifies triglycerides and helps rid the body of bad cholesterol.
7 Decongestant
Cayenne pepper thins mucous for sinus and nasal allergies.
8 Mood food
Cayenne stimulates production of endorphins. A cheap, natural high that is actually good for you.
9 Aphrodisiac
Cayenne is often included in herbal aphrodisiac preparations. Like Viagra, it stimulates blood flow to the extremities, resulting in increased awareness and sensation.

Top tip
Cayenne helps with weight loss!
One study published in the European Journal of Nutrition revealed that eating meals with hot sauce reduces production of the hunger hormone ghrelin. The group who consumed chilli powder consumed 16% fewer calories than the control group. Clearly, it is impossible to over-eat extremely spicy food. Plus capsaicin boosts your metabolism and increases body heat.

Cayenne for First-Aid
Cayenne pepper can be your best friend during an emergency. It boosts peripheral circulation, equalising blood pressure – therefore it is the fastest coagulant known to man. While you rush to hospital, pouring copious amounts of cayenne on external wounds will speed up clotting and reduce overall blood loss. In cases of fainting, shock or heart attack, cayenne has reportedly revived some patients during the crucial minutes prior to receiving medical assistance.

Did you know?
• Cayenne pepper is the active ingredient in pepper spray used for riot control and personal safety.
• The Journal of Clinical Oncology found cancer patients voted 3 to 1 in favour of capsaicin cream for relief of post-surgical pain as compared to the other medicines used on them.
• The hottest peppers are African bird peppers, habanero, jalapeno, serrano and ghost peppers. These range from 2500 heat units to over 1 million units.