Faith in Fitness: Some like it hot

Published on: May 4, 2016

Rosie Korfant

Rosie Korfant

Parrish resident; Activities Coordinator JSA Medical Group, a Division of DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc.

Sounds like a great title for a movie starring a legendary blonde, right? Or it could be the lead-in for a new cocktail to celebrate Cinco de Mayo! Well, give some thought to cayenne pepper instead.

For years I’ve had an aversion to anything spicy, except maybe a gorgeous new dress. Lately, cayenne pepper and I are BFFs.

When I tell you where this research led me, you will hardly believe it. I’m guessing you’ve heard of a panacea for all things, right? Well, that’s just about what cayenne pepper has become.

The name “cayenne” originated from a town in French Guiana off the northeast coast of South America. Even Christopher Columbus realized its benefits and became a culinary hero when he found cayenne in the Caribbean Islands and returned with it to Europe, where he substituted it for black pepper, which was much more costly.

The list of its healing properties is long and diversified — such things as: Sore throat, fever, gout, heartburn, scarlet fever, diphtheria, nausea, herpes, shingles, rheumatism, arthritis, pleurisy, bunions and psoriasis.

It’s also been used as a tonic for heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, spleen and stomach problems. It helps fight the common cold, laryngitis — as a gargle (UGH), hoarseness, swollen lymph glands, cluster headaches, tonsillitis, toothaches, seasickness, malaria and even hemorrhoids.

It has even been said to increase fertility and delay senility. Some key benefits of cayenne are that it regulates the flow of blood from the head to the feet, which balances the blood pressure and influences your heart immediately. (For those of us with the “cold hands and feet” syndrome, this is exceptionally good news.)

Use of cayenne improves circulation, especially good for varicose veins, and muscle cramping, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. When mixed with honey and lemon in water, I know personally that it improves metabolism and gives me more umph! I never thought I’d do without my caffeine boost of coffee in the morning, but since I’ve switched over to the cayenne combination, I’m caffeine-free. (Well, that is until I gobble up a piece of unnecessary chocolate.)

Cayenne, interchangeably called capsicum, is rich in capsaicin, which also contains Vitamin C, B6 and E, along with potassium, manganese and flavonoids, which add to its antioxidant properties.

Further, capsaicin can desensitize sensory neurons, which then deplete substance P, associated with inflammatory pain.

More good news: Because cayenne aids in digestion and absorbs nutrients, it also helps reduce excess appetite due to something called malabsorption, common in overweight folks. Mostly, it helps stimulate saliva, known to be a necessity for good liver functioning, which in turn allows food to be absorbed and not just “inhaled.” It has also been tested to prove it’s an excellent source of beta-carotene — a powerhouse in antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage.

I may not be Rachel Ray, but I’m going to investigate more possible uses for cayenne pepper in my everyday cooking.

Look out, husband, I’m headed to the kitchen.


• Dr. Weil’s Healthy Kitchen
• Dr. John R. Christopher, author: School of Natural Healing
• Global Healing Center
• WebMD
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