How to Grow Cayenne Pepper and The Healing Benefits of Cayenne

Cayenne peppers are part of the capsicum family and are closely related to other kinds of hot chili pepper. Since ancient times, it has been observed that hot and spicy foods increase the body’s metabolism and that heat, in this sense, generates heat.

During the Spanish conquest of Latin America, it is said that priests were horrified by the widespread popularity of cayenne pepper and other peppers, considering them aphrodisiacs which were “as hot as hell’s brimstone.” Today, however, cayenne pepper has a wide range of medicinal uses, and can be both taken internally and used externally to treat many ailments and conditions.

Cultivation of Cayenne Pepper

The native climate for these chili peppers is hot and dry – this makes cayenne peppers a challenge to grow in colder climates, but it also means that they thrive under conditions of “benign neglect” and won’t suffer from a lack of watering. To grow cayenne pepper from seed, plan to sow the seeds about six weeks before planting outdoors.

If you’re not blessed with lots of warmth where you live, consider planting cayenne pepper in pots which can be brought indoors or taken outdoors depending on the weather.

  • Sow indoors and allow seeds to sprout in a sunny spot or in a greenhouse.
  • Transfer seedlings to individual pots, but keep indoors for at least a further month to give the young plants a good start.
  • When there is no danger of frost, transfer to the plants to the garden, or to larger movable pots. Keep your plants at least 18 inches apart, with plenty of sun.
  • Cayenne pepper is ready for harvesting when the peppers are bright red and detach easily from the plant – typically around 70 days from outdoor planting.

Tips on Growing Cayenne Pepper

  • Cayenne peppers prefer well fertilized, moist soil, without too much nitrogen.
  • Don’t plant too many – one plant can produce well over 50 peppers, so if you plant lots, you’ll end up with a lot of surplus peppers.
  • Cutting the peppers off the plant when you harvest causes less damage than twisting them off, but either way, support the fragile plant as you harvest.

Cayenne Pepper

Medicinal Uses of Cayenne Pepper

In common with many herbs, cayenne pepper has a wide variety of medicinal and healing uses as well as its obvious and well known culinary uses.

Get mucus moving – Eating food flavored with cayenne pepper will help to thin the mucus in your lungs when you have bronchitis or a chesty cough – this helps you to cough more productively and to clear your chest and your airways faster.

Reduce a fever – Think of it as fighting fire with fire – when you eat cayenne pepper and you have a fever, the fiery ingredient capsaicin will help to make you sweat. How does getting hot help reduce a fever? Well, although you’ll feel hotter, cayenne does not actually increase temperature; the burning sensation is a false message to your brain. It interprets this message and makes you sweat to cool down – thereby reducing your internal body temperature and helping to reduce fever.

Soothe toothache – Add a tiny amount of water to some cayenne pepper powder to make a paste, and then use a small piece of cotton dipped in this paste on a tooth which is causing you pain. This is one for the brave only, as if the pad slips off your tooth you’ll get the full blast of cayenne pepper flavor, but it’s surprisingly effective at reducing or at least disguising tooth pain.

Warm up those feet – A traditional folk remedy for cold feet is to add chopped or powdered cayenne peppers to your socks! The fiery ingredient of cayenne does draw blood to any area it contacts, to this does have a basis in fact – indeed, cayenne pepper has even been used to treat frostbite!

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