6 Spicy Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

It's best known for its bite, but cayenne pepper can help you burn calories, relieve arthritis, and more.

Relieve achy joints and muscles


Capsaicin, the substance that gives cayenne its spicy taste, is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter treatments for arthritis and muscle pain. Over time, it short-circuits pain by depleting nerve cells of a chemical called substance P, which helps transfer pain signals along nerve endings to the brain. Mix a few dashes of ground cayenne with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Apply it with gauze to unbroken skin at painful joints several times a day. The first few doses will cause a mild burning sensation, but you’ll become desensitized after a week or so. Keep away from the mouth, eyes, and other mucous membranes.


Boost your calorie burning potential


In a six-week study of 25 non-overweight adults, two Purdue researchers found cayenne helped increase study participants’ body temperatures and the amount of calories they burned. Just a half of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper along with a meal can help suppress appetite and burn calories. Interestingly, study subjects who reported they did not prefer or regularly use the spice before the test got the biggest benefits: reduced appetites and a decreased craving for salty, fatty, or sweet foods. 

Unclog a stuffy nose


Capsaicin is a powerful decongestant. It stimulates the release of mucus from respiratory passages and opens your airways. Sprinkle it on food (it pairs surprisingly well with chicken noodle soup) and grab some tissues.

Content continues below ad

Reduce blood sugar levels


A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with diabetes who ate a meal containing liberal amounts of chile pepper required less insulin to reduce their blood sugar afterward, which suggests the spice could have anti-diabetes benefits.  

Improve psoriasis symptoms


A double-blind study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology evaluated the topical application of capsaicin in treating psoriasis. Researchers found that it significantly improved itching and other symptoms associated with psoriasis.  

Boost circulation


Because cayenne improves blood flow, it is also helpful in conjunction with other medications or supplements if you have circulation issues. Research in the U.S. National Library of Medicine also shows that capsaicin helps to lower blood pressure

Content continues below ad

View as Slideshow

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.