We often hear people talking about the miraculous effects of Cayenne pepper on the digestive system, but is there any truth to the stories? Let’s explore it further…
Cayenne pepper, named after the city Cayenne in French Guiana, contains capsaicin, an active compound responsible for the burning sensation we feel when we eat foods that contain it. Cayenne and capsaicin have long been revered by various cultures for their health benefits—they are thought to have an analgesic and therapeutic effect, to improve digestion, to improve tolerance to heat, and more. But what do they really do?
The burning sensation of Cayenne may suggest it is bad for our bodies and digestive systems. It has also been linked to causing or worsening peptic ulcers. Studies show, however, that the opposite may be true. In healthy people, capsaicin does not cause damage to the digestive system. In fact, it seems to stimulate the secretion of acids that could help and even cure peptic ulcers.
Capsaicin is also thought to stimulate salivation, which could aid digestion since saliva contains an enzyme that triggers the chemical digestion of certain carbohydrates. Another study suggests that the consumption of Cayenne may reduce the intensity of symptoms of dyspepsia (impaired gastric function or “upset stomac”).
If you are taking medication or have health problems, talk to your doctor before increasing your intake of Cayenne pepper. And don’t forget to wash your hands after handling hot peppers or any other ingredients that contain pepper—you don’t want to learn the hard way if it gets into your eyes!