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Plant Part Used


Active Constituents

Pungent principles, including capsaicin and capsacinoids; carotenoids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, (26) fatty oils, phenolic compounds (1), (23), (24) [span class=alert]

This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]


Cayenne pepper (chili pepper) has been used as a spice for foods in many cultures and as a traditional medicine for centuries, especially with the Native American culture. Cayenne is regarded as an aphrodisiac, depurative (removes waste products), digestive aid, carminative, antispasmodic, diaphoretic (increase sweating), rubefacient, and counterirritant.

Out of the approximate 27 species of cayenne, Capsicum annum is one of the most common pepper which contains alkaloids that describes the flavor, aroma, texture, color and nutritional value. Capsaicinoids contained in cayenne is responsible for the strong spice taste.(23)

It has been used historically to treat asthma, pneumonia, diarrhea, cramps, toothache, flatulent dyspepsia without inflammation, and peripheral circulation insufficiency. (2) Externally, topical preparations of capsicum oleoresin (0.25-0.75%) is used for pain associated with arthritis, rheumatism, and cold injuries. Taken orally, capsicum has been reported to increase peripheral circulation and improve digestion. Cultures that eat cayenne pepper regularly have a lower incidence of stroke due to an increase in fibrinolytic activity and coagulation caused by constituents in the pepper. (3)

In addition, cayenne has theraupetic effect on other diseases such as rheumatic diseases, cluster headache, painful diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia. It also acts as a great treatment for abnormal growth-related nerve fibers diseases including arthritis, cystitis, and human immunodeficiency virus. (25) Besides, the low intake of cayenne in dietary are potentially decrease the level of serum, myocardial and levels of cholesterol. (27)

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.


Frequently Reported Uses

  • Increases Peripheral Circulation; Cardiovascular Tonic
  • Stimulates Appetite And Digestion
  • Topically As Counterirritant, Rubefacient For Various Conditions
  • Cardiovascular Support (Angioplasty, Angina, Bypass)
Other Reported Uses
  • Diaphoretic
  • Appetite Stimulant
  • Antispasmodic
  • Immunomodulatory Agent
  • Anti-Inflammatory.
  • Anti-oxidant

Toxicities & Precautions


Cayenne has been reported safe in recommended dosages.

Do not apply cayenne topically for more than 2 consecutive days with a 14 day time lapse between due to potential damage to sensitive nerve endings. (4)

Cayenne oleoresin consumption may increase the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.

Health Conditions

Use cayenne with caution in ulcers and chronic bowel irritation.

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals with bleeding disorders.

Cayenne can cause minor burn in the mouth due to its sharp and caustic effect. (25)

Side Effects

Based on pharmacology, topical, oral and gastric irritation may occur with the use of cayenne oleoresin. (5)

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.


Capsaicin is reported to selectively activate some unmyelinated primary afferent sensory neurons (Type “C"). Many of cayenne’s positive effects on the cardiovascular system are thought to be due to excitation of neurons in the vagus nerve. (6) Some of the unmyelinated sensory fibers sensitive to capsaicin contain the neuropeptides Substance P and somatostatin. Capsaicin reportedly stimulates the release of these neuropeptides from both central and peripheral terminals of these primary afferent neurons. (7) The release of the neuropeptide Substance P is associated with desensitization, analgesia and anti-inflammatory activity. Prolonged exposure to capsaicin results in a gradual desensitization to acute effects, potentially due to the depletion of substance P and somatostatin from the primary afferent neurons. Topically, capsaicin has been reported to be useful in alleviating post-herpetic neuralgia, post-mastectomy pain syndrome, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, painful diabetic neuropathy, psoriasis, (8) pruritus, and other conditions. (9) , (10)

Substance P, a calcitonin peptide, is the main transmitter released from capsaicin-sensitive sensory-motor fibers having positive inotropic and chronotropic effects on the heart. This causes vasodilatation in the coronary arteries and elsewhere in the peripheral vasculature. (11) Capsicum has been reported to have immunomodulatory effects, causing local vasodilation and increased accumulation of neutrophils. (12)

In another study, the effects of dietary hot red pepper on energy metabolism at rest and during exercise were examined in long distance male runners. (13) Plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine levels were significantly higher in those who had only hot red pepper at 30 min after the meal. These results suggest that hot red pepper ingestion stimulates carbohydrate oxidation at rest and during exercise.

Both the gastric and duodenal mucosa are thought to contain capsaicin-sensitive areas which afford protection against acid and drug induced ulcers when stimulated by capsaicin or hydrochloric acid. Stimulation causes an increase in mucosal blood flow and/or vascular permeability, may inhibit gastric motility, and may activate duodenal motility. (14) Internal use of capsicum in laboratory animals was recently reported to reduce oral bioavailability of aspirin, likely as a result of the gastrointestinal effects of capsaicin. (15) Of interest is a study indicating that capsaicin might be useful for the prevention of human colon cancers. (16) However, until further research is performed in humans, cayenne should be used with caution in gastrointestinal problems or sensitivities.

Cayenne also has been reported to inhibit glucose absorption in laboratory animals and in humans. (17) Another more recent study reported that cayenne pepper may stimulate carbohydrate oxidation at rest and during exercise. The dietary cayenne significantly elevated respiratory quotient and blood lactate levels at rest and during exercise. (18) Oxygen consumption at rest was slightly but nonsignificantly higher in the hot red pepper meal at 30 min after the meal. Plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine levels were significantly higher in those who had only hot red pepper at 30 min after the meal.

The maximum tolerable dose of cayenne significantly reduced fat intake in human volunteers and also lowered energy intake in comparison to volunteers who ingested the placebo. (19) Of interest are two recent studies conducted to investigate the effects of capsaicin on feeding behavior and energy intake in human subjects. (20) In the first study, the effects of dietary cayenne pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on subsequent energy and macronutrient intakes were examined in thirteen Japanese females. The high-carbohydrate breakfast significantly reduced the desire to eat and hunger after breakfast. The addition of cayenne pepper to the high-carbohydrate breakfast significantly decreased the desire to eat and hunger before lunch. Differences in diet composition at breakfast time did not affect energy and macronutrient intakes at lunch-time; however, the addition of cayenne pepper to the breakfast significantly decreased protein and fat intakes at lunch-time. In the second study, the effects of a cayenne pepper appetizer on energy and macronutrient intakes were examined in ten Caucasian male subjects. After ingesting a standardized breakfast, the subjects took an experimental appetizer with the addition of cayenne pepper. The cayenne appetizer significantly reduced the cumulative energy and carbohydrate intakes during the rest of the lunch and in the snack served several hours later. Moreover, the power spectral analysis of heart rate revealed that this effect of cayenne pepper was associated with an increase in the ratio sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system activity. The authors concluded that the results indicated that the ingestion of cayenne pepper may decrease appetite and subsequent protein and fat intake in Japanese females and energy intake in Caucasian males, with the effect possibly being related to an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity in Caucasian males.

Absorption and bioavailability of some medications may be altered by concurrent use of cayenne. One report suggests that use of cayenne may decrease the bioavailability of salycilates when used concurrently. (21) Another laboratory animal study reported that concurrent use of cayenne and theophylline increased areas under plasma curves, peak plasma levels, and mean residence times for the theophylline product. (22) A second administration of the capsicum suspension, 11 hours after dosing, produced a new rise of theophylline plasma levels in every rabbit.

In addition, antioxidant activity was affected by the changes of phytochemical during maturation process. When the peppers matured the antioxidant constituents's concentration also increases. Carotenoids components are responsible for coloring of the peppers. The green color of fruit was influenced by the existing of carotenoids constituents like xanthophylls, violaxanthin,neoxanthin, utenin for green color of the fruit while final red color of fruit because of existing of capsanthin, capsorubin and capsanthin 5,6-epoxide. The previous research showed that red pepper higher antioxidant activity compared to others. (26)


  1. Muller-Stock A, et al. Studies on the Constituents of Capsicum. A Quantitative Determination of Olefinic and Saturated Components by NMR and of Trans-components by IR. Spectroscopy in a Capsaicinoid Mixture from Natural Source. Helv Chim Acta. Mar1973;56(2):799-803.
  2. Newall CA, et al. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press;1996:28-30.
  3. View Abstract: Visudhiphan S, Poolsuppasit S, Piboonnukarintr O, et al. The Relationship Between High Fibrinolytic Activity and Daily Capsicum Ingestion in Thais. Am J Clin Nutr. Jun1982;35(6):1452-8.
  4. 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.
  5. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:167.
  6. View Abstract: Nagy JI, et al. Fluoride-resistant Acid Phosphatase-containing Neurones in Dorsal Root Ganglia are Separate from Those Containing Substance P or Somatostatin. Neuroscience. Jan1982;7(1):89-97.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. View Abstract: Ledda F, et al. Cardiovascular Effects of Capsaicin-sensitive Neurons. Cardioscience. Mar1993;4(1): 1-7.
  12. View Abstract: Yu R, et al. Modulation of Select Immune Responses by Dietary Capsaicin. Int J Vitam Nutr Res.1998; 68(2):114-19.
  13. 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.
  14. View Abstract: Maggi CA, et al. Capsaicin-sensitive Mechanisms and Experimentally Induced Duodenal Ulcers in Rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. Jul1987;39(7):559-61.
  15. View Abstract: Cruz L, et al. Ingestion of Chili Pepper (Capsicum annuum) Reduces Salicylate Bioavailability After Oral Aspirin Administration in the Rat. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. Jun1999;77(6):441-46.
  16. View Abstract: Yoshitani SI, Tanaka T, Kohno H, Takashima S. Chemoprevention of azoxymethane-induced rat colon carcinogenesis by dietary capsaicin and rotenone. Int J Oncol. Nov2001;19(5):929-39.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. View Abstract: Cruz L, et al. Ingestion of Chili Pepper (Capsicum annuum) Reduces Salicylate Bioavailability After Oral Aspirin Administration in the Rat. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. Jun1999;77(6):441-46.
  22. View Abstract: Bouraoui A, Toumi A, Ben Mustapha H, et al. Effects of Capsicum Fruit on Theophylline Absorption and Bioavailability in Rabbits. Drug Nutr Interact. 1988;5(4):345-50.
  23. Po P.T., et al. Chilli anthracnose disease caused by Colletotrichum species. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. October 2008; 9(10): 764–778.
  24. Lee D.Y., et al. Lignans from the fruits of the red pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and their antioxidant effects. Archives of Pharmacal Research. October 2009;10(32): 1345-1349
  25. Topuz A., Ozdemir F. Assessment of carotenoids, capsaicinoids and ascorbic acid composition of some selected pepper cultivars (Capsicum annuum L.) grown in Turkey. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. Npvember 2007;7(20): 596-602
  26. Conforti F., et al. Chemical and biological variability of hot pepper fruits (Capsicum annuum var. acuminatum L.) in relation to maturity stage. Food Chemistry. June 2006;4(102): 1096–1104
  27. Nunez-Palenius H.G., Ochoa-Alejo N. Effect of phenylalanine and phenylpropanoids on the accumulation of capsaicinoids and lignin in cell cultures of chili pepper (capsicum annuum L.). In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Plant. November 2005; 6(41): 801–805

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