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Plant Part Used



For centuries, cayenne pepper has been used both as a spice for foods in many cultures around the world and as a traditional medicine, especially by Native Americans. The active component of cayenne, capsaicin, has been studied for its ability to relieve pain and inflammation, as well as other beneficial effects. A standardized extract is derived from the fruit of the cayenne plant, the cayenne pepper.

Interactions and Depletions


Dosage Info

Dosage Range

400mg (standardized extract), 2-3 times a day.

Topically: Apply 3-4 times daily to affected area(s)as needed.

Most Common Dosage

400mg (standardized extract), 3 times a day.

Topically: Apply 3 times daily to affected area(s)as needed.


[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 0.25% or greater capsaicin content. The product may also be standardized to Scoville Heat Units (SCU), with 150,000 being average.

Reported Uses

When used topically, the active component capsaicin has been reported to be useful in alleviating pain associated with arthritis and a number of other conditions. (1) , (2) , (3) Scientists think this pain-relief activity is linked to the stimulation of nerves that further stimulate the body’s own natural pain relief mechanisms. (4)

Some studies suggest that cayenne taken internally can support overall cardiovascular health with positive effects on the heart and circulatory system. (5) Other studies have looked at cayenne’s ability to stimulate and accelerate metabolism, thereby providing more energy to the body. (6) , (7)

Strong doses of cayenne seemed to lower fat and energy intake. (8) Of interest are two recent studies that investigated the effects of cayenne pepper on hunger and energy intake in humans. These studies indicate that cayenne may decrease appetite and subsequent protein and fat intake in Japanese females and energy intake in Caucasian males. The effect may be due to an increase in nervous system activity caused by the cayenne pepper. (9)

Cayenne has also received attention for its possible effect on supporting the health of the stomach lining. Studies have reported that capsaicin may provide protection against acid and drug induced stomach ulcers. (10) However, until further research is performed in humans, cayenne should be used with caution in gastrointestinal problems or sensitivities.

Toxicities & Precautions


[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]


This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Do not apply this dietary supplement topically for more than 2 consecutive days without a 14-day break between applications, or follow the manufacturers dosing recommendations. (11)

Health Conditions

If you have ulcers or chronic bowel irritation, use caution prior to using this dietary supplement internally as further irritation may result. If you have a bleeding disorder, consult a doctor before use.

Side Effects

Side effects are possible with any dietary supplement. This dietary supplement may cause topical, oral and gastric irritation. (12) Tell your doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.


  1. View Abstract: Magnusson BM. Effects of Topical Application of Capsaicin to Human Skin: A Comparison of Effects Evaluated by Visual Assessment, Sensation Registration, Skin Blood Flow and Cutaneous Impedance Measurements. Acta Derm Venereol. Mar1996;76(2):129-32.
  2. View Abstract: Rains C, et al. Topical Capsaicin. A Review of Its Pharmacological Properties and Therapeutic Potential in Post-herpetic Neuralgia, Diabetic Neuropathy and Osteoarthritis. Drugs Aging. Oct1995;7(4):317-28.
  3. View Abstract: Anand P. Capsaicin and menthol in the treatment of itch and pain: recently cloned receptors provide the key. Gut. Sep2003;52(9):1233-5.
  4. Purkiss JR, et al. Capsaicin Stimulates Release of Substance P from Dorsal Root Danglion Neurons Via Two Distinct Mechanisms. Biochem Soc Trans. Aug1997;25(3):542S.
  5. View Abstract: Ledda F, et al. Cardiovascular Effects of Capsaicin-sensitive Neurons. Cardioscience. Mar1993;4(1): 1-7.
  6. View Abstract: Lim K, et al. Dietary Red Pepper Ingestion Increases Carbohydrate Oxidation at Rest and During Exercise in Runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Mar1997;29(3):355-61.
  7. View Abstract: Chaiyata P, Puttadechakum S, Komindr S. Effect of chili pepper (Capsicum frutescens) ingestion on plasma glucose response and metabolic rate in Thai women. J Med Assoc Thai. Sep2003;86(9):854-60.
  8. View Abstract: Yoshioka M, Imanaga M, Ueyama H, et al. Maximum tolerable dose of red pepper decreases fat intake independently of spicy sensation in the mouth. Br J Nutr. Jun2004;91(6):991-5.
  9. View Abstract: Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Drapeau V, et al. Effects of Red Pepper on Appetite and Energy Intake. Br J Nutr. Aug1999;82(2):115-23.
  10. View Abstract: Maggi CA, et al. Capsaicin-sensitive Mechanisms and Experimentally Induced Duodenal Ulcers in Rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. Jul1987;39(7):559-61.
  11. View Abstract: Watanabe T, Kawada T, Kato T, Harada T, Iwai K. Effects of capsaicin analogs on adrenal catecholamine secretion in rats. Life Sci. 1994;54(5):369-74.
  12. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:167.








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