Healthy Articles Archive

Herbal Help: Capsicum

Gabriella Clark is a qualified medical herbalist and a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

The humble chilli pepper boasts some impressive hidden health benefits - read on to discover how it could help you.

What is it?
There are approximately 27 varieties of capsicum, which is also known as cayenne pepper. They vary in strength, size and appearance. The large mild form is known as the bell pepper, though these don't contain the fantastic health benefits of the smaller, spicier peppers. It is these spicier varieties that have been cultivated, traded and used worldwide for thousands of years to add a kick to foods and as a great medicine.

How do I use it?
Many of the health benefits of capsicum can be enjoyed by including it either cooked or raw in meals. However, this is not palatable for everyone, so you can also take it in a tablet. It is best not to take capsicum on an empty stomach.

How much do I need?
Capsicum is considered safe, but if using it as a supplement always stick within manufacturer's guidelines. It may cause stomach irritation in some, so those suffering from gastric ulcers are advised to avoid it. Those taking anticoagulant medication should check with their healthcare professional before using capsicum.

How can it help me?
Chilli contains a constituent called capsaicin, which is responsible for most of its  actions. Chilli is very rich in carotenoids which are known to have antioxidant effects. It is also beneficial for:

Circulation - Capsicum has a stimulatory and dilatory effect, making it a valuable remedy in winter for helping with  cold hands and feet, chilblains and other related conditions.

Heart health - Studies in China have shown that capsicum may help reduce blood pressure. An Indian study suggests that it may help to bring down cholesterol levels in the blood.

Colds - If you�re bunged up, capsicum may  help with  the respiratory problems caused by excessive mucus and blocked sinuses.

Weight loss - Recent studies have indicated that capsicum is thermogenic, so it produces heat by increasing the metabolic rate. If your rate is raised, then you will burn calories and lose weight at a faster rate.

Arthritis and muscle pain - Creams containing capsaicin may help to lessen the pain associated with arthritis and other aches and pains.

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