FACT OR BERRY TALE

What’s the secret? That is the question I am asked time and time again as people stand in disbelief when, for the first time, they learn my age. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pull out my driver’s license to prove how old I am. Almost everyone puts my age at 12-16 years younger than what is recorded on my birth certificate. Even my doctor has made numerous comments.

What’s the secret? There is the question again. I don’t believe in all the “Ten Easy Steps to Losing 50 Lbs, “Seven Steps to Salvation,” “Personal Empowerment in Five Simple Lessons, “ or “Instant Wealth: Twelve Secrets Your Stock Broker Will Never Reveal To You.” It’s all gimmick. Life is to complex to be solved in simple “steps.” Being proactive and getting all the right inter-connectivity working together like greased mojo is never simple.

What’s the secret? I’ve stalled long enough. My stock reply is: “Cayenne pepper – I burn age and disease in the oven.” Do I really believe cayenne pepper is the great secret? No, but I have a lot of fun with it. I actually believe is it a huge mix of genetics, nutritious eating, physical exercise (particularly love-making), and mental exercise (especially critical thinking). Add to that a lifestyle which embraces faith and shuns drama and stress. Yes, and a respectable daily dose of cayenne, or other hot peppers…really!

I’ve been eating cayenne pepper daily for nearly 35 years. Initially, it was used moderately due to the heat. Over time, the amount increased to the point where I now douse my meals with it. Has this contributed to a healthy, younger-looking physique? I am absolutely convinced. This dude is about to turn 58. While everyone I know is on some form of medication or other, I have thus far been spared. Several friends my age, or much younger, are on high blood pressure meds. Every time my blood pressure gets tested, I am right there at 120 / 80. Some take meds for cholesterol. My levels are consistently good. In fact, I had a physical four years ago and my doctor stated my lab results were textbook perfect. He mentioned that few of his patient over 40 are without daily medication.

I believe much of the good news from these medical reports can be attributed to my daily intake of capsaicin, the active heat ingredient found in all hot peppers. The medical benefits of capsaicin are downright unbelievable. They read like a fantasy wish list for disease-ridden Americans plagued with cancers, heart disease, arteriolosclerosis, hypertension and obesity. If there were ever a “miracle herb,” this could be it (more technically, it’s a berry). I tend to be a hard sale, but after decades of use, I can testify to many of the claims and studies.

Cayenne pepper is so medicinally powerful that it’s one of the few spices to show up in the American Illustrated Medical Dictionary, the Merck Manual and Materia Medica. Capsaicin is an analgesic, stimulant, carminative, tonic, sialagogue, rubefacient, anti-catarrhal, antiemetic, anti-microbial, diaphoretic, vermifuge, and an astringent.

  • Analgesic (relieves pain)
  • Stimulant (induces temporary improvements in either mental or physical functions or both)
  • Carminative (help prevent formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates the expulsion of gas)
  • Tonic (invigorates system)
  • Sialagogue (increases the flow of saliva which aids in digestion and has a bactericidal effect)
  • Rubefacient (produces redness of the skin by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation)
  • Anti-catarrhal (removes excess mucous from the body)
  • Antiemetic (helps prevent nausea from motion sickness or drug side-effects)
  • Antimicrobial (helps in healing infections and new studies show anti-fungal properties)
  • Diaphoretic (increases perspiration)
  • Vermifuge (expels intestinal worms)
  • Astringent (useful for skin irritations – insect bites, acne)

It is also a control freak:

  • Riot Control (yep, it’s the active ingredient in pepper spray)
  • Pest Control (insect repellants as well as deer, rabbit, squirrels and other mammals)

There is much on the Internet about cayenne pepper being a powerful aphrodisiac. I’m a natural cynic when it comes to this sort of thing. Spanish Fly is a dead beetle for crying out loud. And the black market for rhino horn has just about made the species extinct. Loss of libido and impotency are epidemic among modern man. Cayenne pepper is supposed to help by increasing your blood flow, due to the dilating of blood vessels. Cayenne also increases heart action without raising blood pressure. Since it stimulates tissue growth and regeneration, it makes the sexual organs stronger. Is it all bullshit? I don’t know. All I can tell you is I have never once needed, or used, Viagra. My mojo is stronger today than it has ever been in my life. Methinks this is the combination of cayenne pepper along with my very sexy wife.

There is definitely a connection between cayenne pepper and the brain’s production of endorphins. Eating hot peppers release “feel good” endorphins which create a feeling of euphoria and well-being. Endorphins give you a legal, non-addictive, natural high. They are also responsible for the “second wind” athletes experience. Endorphins are also the same compounds that are released during orgasm and greatly contribute the pleasure, euphoria and enjoyment experienced during orgasm. That should be enough to add cayenne to the diet if nothing else were true. But there’s more…much more.

Sizzle Me Healthy Cayenne Pepper

Let’s look at some of the more important benefits in a little more detail (in alphabetical order):

Cayenne pepper as an analgesic
Cayenne relieves pain taken both internally and applied topically. Capsaicin, is a strong pain-relieving agent that alleviates the joint pain of arthritis, rheumatism, muscle spasms, cramps and bowel pain. In addition, cayenne triggers the release of endorphins providing some additional pain relief, particularly for headaches. I have never taken cayenne specifically for pain. However, I can say that I never get headaches. Whether this is from the daily consumption of cayenne or other factors, I haven’t got a clue.

Cayenne pepper as an anti-catarrhal
Cayenne helps the body remove excess catarrhal buildups (inflammation of the mucous membranes). In short, it helps remove excess mucous from the body. The main use would be in ear, nose and throat infections.

Cayenne pepperas an antiemetic
An antiemetic is a drug that is effective against vomiting and nausea. Antiemetics are typically used to treat motion sickness, and the side effects of opioid analgesics, general anesthetics, and chemotherapy. When I was young I used to get incredibly seasick. I no longer do, but I am not sure if it is the cayenne, my living on a sailboat for three years, or both. I will say this, I never vomit anymore. Over the past 20 years, I can only remember throwing up one time. There have been numerous times when I have felt like I could, but I never do. I have always found this quite odd.

Cayenne pepperas an antimicrobial
Cayenne has an antimicrobial action. Research has shown that it can be used to delay microbial growth in stored foods. In tests, cayenne pepper reduced the growth of microflora, yeast and molds in Kareish cheese. Because of these cleansing qualities, it is often used in herbal therapies that demand an increase in blood circulation. It is used in many detox programs.

Cayenne pepperas an astringent
As an astringent, cayenne pepper works both internally and externally to stop bleeding. I have applied it to open wounds and the bleeding stops quickly. I have also added it to Carmex or Neosporin (so the powder would stick) over a wound and applied a band-aid. I believe the wounds healed much quicker. It is said to be useful in the treatment of diarrhea and ulcers but I have no personal experience.

Cayenne pepper as a carminative
Carminatives help eliminate intestinal gas (flatulence). I don’t know all the science involved as to whether or not it helps in reducing buildup, or merely in the elimination of it. However, I will say this: around my house it is not me stinking up the place after a big bowl of red beans and rice!

Cayenne pepper as a diaphoretic
A diaphoretic is something that has the power to cause increased perspiration. That’s right baby! My motto is, “If it doesn’t make you sweat, it wasn’t a meal.” Sweating is really good for your body. Americans can’t seem to live without their sacred air-conditioning and view sweat as “gross.”

While sweating, you breathe faster, your heart works more, your circulation improves and your metabolism accelerates. Because your circulation is increased, many toxins and impurities are able to exit your body through your open skin pores. Sweating regularly, followed by proper cleansing, will help you to achieve softer and smoother skin. When your body heats up, it generates more white blood cells which benefits the immune system. So, pour on the cayenne and glisten!

Cayenne pepper as a rubefacient
A rubefacient produces redness of the skin by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation. Again, I do not know all of the science here, but I do believe that bringing blood to a wound or sore is a good thing. I used to be plagued with annual cold sores. These fever blisters, as they are called, are actually a herpes simplex virus. No, it is not that kind of herpes (genital herpes), but is does share one thing in common…it can’t be cured! It stays in your body for the rest of your life. I used to get an annual outbreak around my mouth which lasted up to two weeks. About twenty years ago I started applying cayenne pepper mixed with Carmex to the cold sore. I would pop the blister with a needle, then apply the salve. It was a test, as I had never heard of anyone doing such an insane thing (it was incredibly hot on my lips). The outbreak was gone in less than half the time. For the next two years I had smaller outbreaks, and used my cayenne remedy. Since then it has never returned! Why? I don’t know, ask a scientist!

Cayenne pepper as a sialagogue
A sialagogue increases the flow rate of saliva, which has a bactericidal effect. The higher the level of saliva, the lower the risk of caries (bacterial tooth decay causing cavities). Saliva also neutralizes acids that cause tooth enamel demineralization, and aids in the pre-digestion of food. Spit is good, so pour on the cayenne. Let me point out here that I do not use commercial toothpaste. I brush my teeth with a combination of salt and cayenne. It helps whiten my teeth from the nasty effects of my coffee drinking, and it freshens the gums in a powerful way. I feel as though my whole mouth comes alive. Try it sometime!

Cayenne pepper as a stimulant
Cayenne is considered a powerful stimulant that boosts metabolism, helps to enhance athletic performance and is valuable in treating prostration (extreme exhaustion and collapse). Increased metabolism will help keep that fat off. Will eating cayenne make you skinny? No bro, you’ve got to learn to lay off the ice cream. The key factor here is not weight loss, but deterring weight gain.

Cayenne pepper is a miracle worker in the circulatory system. It is said to strengthen the heart, cleanse the arteries (reducing plaque), and helps significantly rid the body of bad cholesterol (Emulsifies triglycerides). Cayenne helps regulate the heart and blood pressure. It apparently increases heart action without increasing blood pressure. Sometimes I feel like God has a sense of humor, or maybe he just wanted to simplify things for we over-thinking humans. Cayenne pepper is, of course, a red berry. In the food world, reds are circulatory system powerhouses. Apples, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, beets, tomatoes, etc. are all full of antioxidants and other goodies. Just remember: blood is red, so eat red to help blood. Simple!

I have already mentioned my lab results. I have great cholesterol counts and excellent blood pressure. I have also taken two treadmill stress tests resulting in readings for a strong heart. This is important to me since there is much heart disease on both sides of my family. My mother’s side even has heart defects. I regret to say that I do not exercise as much as I should. My outdoor work around my home accounts for most of it. Having said that, I have an incredible amount of endurance. Is it from the large amount of capsaicin I consume? God only knows!

I can tell you that cayenne is banned in equestrian sports because of its hyper-sensitizing and pain-relieving properties. Also, there is much written on the work of Dr. John Christopher who says he has stopped numerous heart attacks with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a glass of warm water. I hope I never have to test that one!

Cayenne pepper as a vermifuge
A vermifuge expels intestinal worms. Cayenne is said to be effective in destroying many types of worms though, admittedly, I have not extensively read on this.

Cayenne pepper as a tonic
Much is written about cayenne as an overall body tonic. It is said to strengthen the immune system and build resistance to sore throats, sinus infections and colds. I am not sure I believe this, or maybe it is just ineffective on me. I get colds and sinus infections just like everyone else. In fact, other than my kidney stone problem, that is the only thing that really affects me, health-wise, in life.

On a similar note, cayenne is referred to as a “carrier” or “catalyst” herb that increases the efficacy of almost every other herbal combination. Dr. Richard Shultze recommends placing cayenne pepper at the top of the ten most important herbs to have in a home “…because it will make the other nine work better.”

Can cayenne cure cancer?
In separate clinical studies, capsaicin, has been shown to actually kill cancer cells. Cancerous cells undergo apoptosis, which is basically cellular suicide. It has been shown to be beneficial in leukemia, prostate, pancreatic and lung cancers. Is it the long-awaited cure for cancer? I rather doubt that, but it seems to certainly be beneficial. I am not sure of the potency and frequency used in these studies so feel free to study it further. There is much written on the subject. My purpose here is merely to show that cayenne, and other hot peppers, may be a necessary addition to your diet to assist in combating various ills of modern man.

Hotter than hot
Yes, cayenne pepper has been part of my daily regimen for nearly 35 years. I started with light sprinklings and now pour it on. I have moved into hotter peppers as well. Besides jalapenos and cayenne, I also grow habenero and ghost peppers. Pepper heat is measured in Scoville Units (SUs). Here are some comparisons:

Jalapeno Pepper: 2,500-10,000 SU
Serrano Pepper: 10,000-23,000 SU
Cayenne Pepper: 30,000-50,000 SU
Habanero & Scotch Bonnet: 100,000-350,000 SU
Ghost Pepper: 855,000-1,041,000 SU

Let me tell you, I have to wear rubber gloves and safety glasses when I cut-up ghost peppers. The oils can remain on your skin, even after intense scrubbing, for quite some time. The most delicate touch to the eye is game over…ask me how I know this!

I also enjoy buffalo sauce which is made from hot sauce (cayenne & vinegar) and real butter. I make mine quite a bit hotter than the norm, and include habanero sauce along with a little garlic, in the mix.

Closing

If, during the course of writing, I sound like one of the gullible folk who are easily led to believe whatever they hear on the news or read on the Internet…it couldn’t be further from the truth. As mentioned earlier, I am a hard sale. I put little value to anything I read on the Internet, and even less to the network news. I believe in rigorous study and testing. What I have written here about cayenne pepper (and the active ingredient capsaicin) I have actually experienced over many years of use. I can’t say that I truly believe every wonderful thing being written about cayenne, because I haven’t been plagued by every illness that has been addressed. However, I AM acquainted with many of these things and I whole-heartedly believe what is written. Some will attribute the success of cayenne to a placebo effect. I acknowledge the powerful influence of said state of mind, but that dawg just won’t hunt here. Again, I’m a hard sale, but with a somewhat open mind. And know this, I have never eaten cayenne pepper for the health benefits! Dammit, I just like the taste!

Home Grown Cayenne Pepper