More than just a spice, cayenne can be used for its medicinal and health properties. Some individuals with hypertension may experience a reduction in blood pressure by taking cayenne supplements, but this may not happen for everyone. If you have high blood pressure, do not take cayenne pepper for your condition before talking with your doctor.
Red pepper also is known as cayenne pepper and has been used as a cooking spice, food and medicine for thousands of years. Capsaicin is the compound that gives cayenne its spicy flavor, and this substance also has pain-relieving properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, cayenne has been used in Indian Ayurvedic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean medicines to help relieve problems with digestion, blood circulation and loss of appetite. Capsaicin can be used topically for muscle aches and arthritis. While you can add cayenne pepper to your food, cayenne also can be taken as a supplement in capsule form.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when your blood pressure is 140/90 most of the time, according to PubMed Health. Blood pressure measures the force against the artery walls as your blood is circulated through your body. Many things can affect the numbers, including heredity, illness, nutrition and hormones. Risk factors for high blood pressure include being obese, being African-American, having high blood pressure in your family, diabetes and smoking cigarettes. Treatment can involve medications and lifestyle modifications, such as diet changes and regular exercise, stress reduction and weight loss. If high blood pressure goes untreated, it can lead to stroke and heart disease.
Cayenne and Hypertension
A 2010 study published in "Cell Metabolism" found that a receptor called TRPV-1 was activated in mice when they consumed capsaicin, which lowered their blood pressure. Another study published in "Current Medicinal Chemistry Cardiovascular Hematological Agents" in 2003 found that capsaicin affects sensory nerves that work with neuro-hormonal systems to help lower blood pressure. More research needs to be done in human subjects to determine definitive associations between capsaicin and blood pressure, so consult your health care provider before using capsaicin for your condition.
If you have hypertension, do not use cayenne pepper as a substitute for medical treatment or medications that your doctor has prescribed. Cayenne is not a cure for hypertension but a supplement that may help lower high blood pressure in some people. Even though cayenne is a commonly used spice, it can interact with certain medications and cause adverse effects, so tell your doctor about any other medications and supplements you are taking.
Is This an Emergency?
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Cayenne; Steven Ehrlich; November 2008
- PubMed Health; Hypertension; July 2010
- "Cell Metabolism"; Activation of TRPV-1 by Dietary Capsaicin Improves Endothelium-Dependent Vasorelaxation and Prevents Hypertension; D. Yang, et al; 2010
- "Current Medicinal Chemistry Cardiovasc. Hematol. Agents"; Capsaicin Sensitive-Sensory Nerves and Blood Pressure Regulation; P. Vaishnava, et al; 2003