Scientific name: Capsicum annum, Capsicum frutescens

Common names: Cayenne Pepper, Capsicum, Red Pepper, Spanish Pepper, Bird Pepper, Chili Pepper, African Red Pepper 

Ayurvedic names: Manchi-phalam

Chinese names: la jiao

Bangladesh names: lanka

Arabic names:    الفليفلة الحولية (al fuleifilah al hoolwiyah)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Solanaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Fruit

Collection: Summer

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 60 cm to 1.5 m

Actions: Anti-catarrhal, anti-emetic, anti microbial, anti-spasmodic, carminative, diahpretic, ruibefacient, sialgogue, stimulant, tonic 

Known Constituents: Albumen, capsaicin, carotenoids, flavanoids, magnesium, pectin, potassium startch, vitamin C

Constituents Explained:


A very hot pepper, cayenne is a perennial plant in its native tropical America but is annual when cultivated outside tropical zones. Growing to a height of 3 feet or more, its glabrous stem is woody at the bottom and branched near the top. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate, entire, and petioled. The drooping, white to yellow glowers grow alone or in pairs or threes between April and September. The ripe fruit, or pepper, is a many-seeded pod with a leathery outside in various shades of red or yellow.

Traditional Use:

An amazing medicinal plant that seems to enhance the effect of every other herb it is combined with.  It comes from the greek word ‘kapto’ meaning ‘to bite.’ It has perhaps been used for a wider array of conditions than other herb.  Cayenne is very useful for the heart and an old school remedy is to have a teaspoon in water if having a heart attack. Its believed that it strengthens the heart, arteries, and small blood vessels.

Cayenne can be hot, sometimes intensely hot.    When applied externally it is healing, while increasing circulation to the area.  It is commonly used with other herbs to make a poultice. It was commonly applied with Myrrh and goldenseal.  Internally it doesn’t seem to irritate like other hot remedies.

Chilis are ranked according to their heat.  The active ingredient in capsicum that appears to be responsible for the heat is Capsaicin.  Capsaicin appears to to temporarily enhance any feeling of pain and inflammation then begins to desentizei it.

A few drops of chili will often be added to a herbal remedy.

Its used for the digestive system sees  it added to formulas for gas and bloating.  Dr John Christopher used it for intense pain from stomach ulcers.

A few drops is often added to formulas for circulation to encourage blood flow to the ends of the bodsy.

According to Jethro Kloss it “causes no harm and has no unhealthy reaction.  With a poultice…overnight I have cured cases of rheumatism that had been for years most distressing.  An enema of it with lobelia, and slippery elm will relieve the most obstinate constipation.” He used it for the kidneys, spleen and pancreas.1

Dr Richard Schulze was given the nickname ‘Professor Cayenne’ because of his love of this herb.  It has been called the ‘ideal stimulant.’ The laymen commonly has the unfounded fear that it’s going to burn the stomach lining.

The African bird pepper is generally regarded to be the most stimulating and retain its heat the longest.

Clinical Studies:

The active substance found in Capsicum frutescens (capsicum) that gives hot and spicy flavor is capsaicin, and it seems to have many pharmacological effects. The present research was conducted to study the effect of capsicum on plasma glucose level and to correlate its action with the pharmacokinetic properties of capsaicin in capsicum.

The crossover study was performed in 12 healthy volunteers by performing the OGTT while receiving placebo or 5 grams of capsicum. The insulin secretion and capsaicin level in plasma were measured using the HPLC method.

The results of the OGTT showed that plasma glucose levels in volunteers who received capsicum were significantly lower than those in the placebo group at 30 and 45 minutes. Furthermore, plasma insulin levels were significantly higher at 60, 75, 105, and 120 minutes.

When comparing before and after capsicum intake, the results showed the insulin levels were maintained. 

In conclusion, the present study found that 5 grams of capsicum presented capsaicin levels that were associated with a decrease in plasma glucose levels and the maintenance of insulin levels. The present result might have clinical implications in the management of type 2 diabetes.


Chaiyasit K, Khovidhunkit W, Wittayalertpanya S. “Pharmacokinetic And The Effect Of Caosaicin In Capsicum Frutescens In Decreasing Plasma Glucose Level.” 2009 January.

Source material:


Other names: African Pepper,  Bird Pepper, Chillies, Guinea pepper

Latin name: Capsicum

Family: Solanaceae

Common part used: ripe and dried fruit

Originally this plant is from Zanzibar, but now it is widespread in most tropical and sub-tropical zones. Its name derives from the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. It is a red chili pepper used for medicinal and culinary purposes. 

It is a perennial plant, the height of which ranges from sixty centimeters up to one and a half meters. It is characterized by the angular branches, rather long ones and purplish in color. The calyx of the flowers are in the shape of a cup. The fruit is long and red, full of small disk-shaped seeds. The number of seeds can range from ten up to twenty nine. 

The fruit is usually dried and crushed to make a powder. Or it can be pulped while fresh and then baked and ground to get a powder famous as a cayenne pepper spice. 

The cayenne fruit is popular in numerous cuisines to spice the food: it can be used as a powder, the whole fruit or as a sauce based on vinegar. Also it can be used in the form of dry flakes. 

As for the medicinal uses of this plant, first of all it is a good stimulant without any narcotic effects. It is also a great tonic, and a wonderful substance to prevent the development of numerous diseases. However, it is not recommended for people who suffer from different types of gastric issues. In some countries it is widely used as a remedy for loss of appetite and problematic digestion, especially in combination with some vegetables like cucumbers and onions. 

Herbalists use cayenne based medicines a lot, especially in the form of pills and as a powdered substance. 

If used externally, this plant can be a powerful rubefacient, but its effect is very gentle and without any danger of vesication or other issues.