Capsicum, commonly known as cayenne, takes its name from the Greek kapto, “to bite,” a reference to the hot pungent properties of the fruits and seeds. Introduced from India into Britain in 1548, the plant has now become a culinary staple in kitchens worldwide. It”s less known, perhaps, as a powerful and versatile home remedy.
The key to success in medicine is stimulation, and capsicum is the great stimulant. The fruits contain 0.1 – 1.5% capsaicin, a substance which stimulates the circulation and alters temperature regulation. Applied topically, capsaicin desensitizes nerve endings and makes a good local anesthetic. The seed contains capsicidins, which are thought to have antibiotic properties. The fruit is also said to have antihemorrhoidal, antiseptic, and antirheutmatic properties and to be good for digestive, sinus, and stomach conditions. In the tropics, it”s also used as a food preservative.
Applied externally as a pack or liniment, capsicum stimulates circulation, aids the removal of waste products, and increases the flow of nutrients to the tissues. It is also said to relieve muscle spasms, bursitis, shingles, and diabetic neuropathy.
So sprinkle away! (You might want to start with a few shakes on your dinner and gradually build up to more as your body gets accustomed to the stimulating effects.)
Here are a few capsicum folk remedies for external use:
- One of the best liniments for treating arthritis, sore back muscles, rheumatism, sprains or bruises is prepared as follows: bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper in one pint of cider vinegar. Bottle hot and unstrained. This makes a powerfully stimulating external application for deep-seated congestions, sprains, etc.
- If you have a mouse or rat problem, put a heaping tablespoon of dried and powdered cayenne pepper in a shallow pan over a low flame and allow the fumes to pervade the air. Mice, rats, even cockroaches abhor the fumes, which are perfectly safe for humans and pets.
- A little cayenne sprinkled in the shoes will greatly assist in warming cold feet. Some place a sprinkle in the sox. Don’t put too much in, however: you may find it too warm.