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Native American

 Herbs  & Plants

Of The Southwest


Native American Indian Cayenne Pepper used in herbal medicine

Latin Name: Capsicum annum or frutescens


Cayenne, the dried fruit of a type of pepper plant, was well known by the ancient Maya, who used it to season food, and as a medicine to treat mouth sores and inflamed gum tissue. It was brought to Europe after the voyages of Christopher Columbus and is now grown world wide as an integral part of the cuisine of many warm countries. It is believed that eating some form of hot peppers makes you feel cooler; probably because biting into a hot chili makes you break into a sweat, and the resulting evaporative loss DOES add a sensation of coolness. The beautiful related chili ristra strings hanging from the beams of Southwestern houses originated with the Pueblo people and Mexican Indians. The principle active component in cayenne is known as capsicum.


Capsicum is an anti-inflammatory, when used topically, and has benefit when rubbed on painful, swollen arthritic joints. Taken internally, it can reduce discomfort from the common cold, provide a mild stimulant, and can lower cholesterol blood levels. It is also an antioxidant, and contains carotenoids, Vitamin C and E. It has been recently studied for use in treatment of cluster headaches. Want to prepare your own medicine? In a word: DON"T!! The oil containing capsicum does not wash off easily, and if you must fool with this little firecracker of a plant, use rubber gloves, and don't even THINK about touching your eyes! It is much easier, and just as effective, to let modern technology do the job for you. Buy the capsules, and take 1 to 3 a day. The very effective cream used for arthritis is usually available by prescription


As above; also use caution if you have gastrointestinal problems, although believe it or not, red peppers are not as irritating to stomach lining as black pepper. Do not apply capsicum cream to broken skin.


Be sure of the identity of the plant before you use it. If a preparation makes you sick or gives you a rash, don't use it, and throw it away! If your condition does not improve, see your doctor. Be sure to let your physician know EVERYTHING that you are taking!

Navajo Chilis

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