10 Medical Uses for Hot Peppers

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10 Medical Uses for Hot Peppers

Hot peppers hang out at the Chile Frijoles Festival in Pueblo, CO. Dried, peppers maintain some of their medicinal powers.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

I just got back from the Chile & Frijoles Festival in Pueblo, CO, where everyone was eating the hot fruit in every conceivable way. Not that anyone needed another reason to enjoy, but it reminded me of all the health and medicinal benefits packed in those little pods of flavor.

You can ingest them, inhale them or rub them on in a salve. You can eat them raw, freeze them, dry them and chop them up, or hang them on the wall. Dried, they’ll still keep many of their medicinal powers.

In fact, maybe that old axiom needs to be changed to “a pepper a day keeps the doctor away.” Here are my top-10 medical uses for hot peppers.

If you eat them, they fight:

1. Inflammation. And that’s a good thing. We’ve known for quite a while that inflammation causes pain, but only in the last few years have we implicated it in leading to heart attacks.

2. Colds. Peppers’ many vitamins and antioxidants help boost the immune system.

3. Scurvy from vitamin C deficiency, which causes anemia, bleeding under the skin and horrible gum problems, to name a few things. No one gets this disease much anymore, but if you live in an area with no citrus fruit and it suddenly stopped being shipped, one fresh pepper a day could give you more than your minimal daily requirement of vitamin C. Unfortunately the dried pepper doesn’t retain much.

4. Vitamin A deficiency, which is common in economically developing countries. It causes trouble seeing at night and weakens your ability to fight off infections. Pepper has a lot of vitamin A, and unlike vitamin C, it sticks around in the dried form.

These hot peppers are roasting—literally—at the Chile & Frijoles Festival. The nutrients in peppers include Vitamins A and C.

5. Cancer. Peppers have many antioxidants. Some studies have shown that the capsaicin in peppers—an antioxidant and also the chemical that makes them hot—inhibits cancer cell growth in the colon and prostate, and a study in rats found it actually can kill pancreas-cancer cells. Another antioxidant in peppers, lycopene, is thought to aid the fight against bladder and cervical cancer as well.

6. Obesity. Eating hot peppers has been shown to increase the body’s metabolism for about 20 minutes after eating.

More About Peppers for Pain

Learn more about using the capsaicin from hot peppers to fight pain here.

Learn more about improvisational medicine for when you can’t get medical help in the new The Survival Doctor e-books.

Sniff the very diluted capsaicin in nasal-spray form, and it fights:

7. Runny or stopped up noses. It can help the nasal congestion or drip from a cold or allergies.

8. Headaches. One sniff of the spray up the nostril on the same side as a migraine has been known to stop the pain in its tracks.

Rub on the very diluted form to fight:

9. Nerve pain such as the type from postherpetic neuralgia that continues in some people well after a shingles attack, or diabetic neuropathy’s tingling or pain in the feet. You’ll have to use if for a few days since it works by depleting the nerves’ pain-causing chemicals, and that takes time.

10. Psoriasis. Just don’t use it on cracked skin.

As with anything, don’t overdo it. The spray burns and must be very diluted, or you can buy it commercially*.

The cream must be diluted also, and be sure to not rub it on raw or cracked skin. Some people are more sensitive to it than others.

What about you? Have you tried hot peppers for any of these things? Do you have any recipes for making the cream or the spray or just plain good eating?

 

*Full disclosure: This is an affiliate link, meaning if you click on it, someone associated with this site will make a commission anything you buy. I don’t vouch for any particular product, however. The linked-to product is only meant as an example.

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  • chidi

    I really love this post. I do take alot of pepper without knowing the medicinal importance of it. But with this write up I am enlightened alot and will continue eating alot of it to keep me more healthier. I hope tell my relatives and friends about its importance. Thanks. Chidi

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      You’re welcome. It’s nice to occasionally find out what you like to eat is actually good for you, isn’t it.

  • Bobby Jax

    Very good post. I have kidney disease and chronic renal itching. A friend turned me onto a hot pepper skin spray for itching and it’s the only thing that works for me. It’s incredible! And it doesn’t burn unless you use it on broken skin and then it just burns for a few seconds until my itching is gone. My doctors was shocked by how fast it works! We tried everything form prescription stuff to otc cortizone creams and none of it worked. The pepper itch spray worked almost instantly. I won’t mention the product without permission but it’s the only pepper itch spray out there as far as I know.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks, Bobby.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessa.cornwell Jessa Cornwell

    I just found this site. I love it! God Bless you, doctor, for selflessly putting this information out there.
    About the peppers: I bought a very inexpensive capsule filling device that came with gelatin capsules. My plan is to grind up some of the peppers I have and fill the capsules. My only concern is that for those people who may develop heartburn. I am wondering if the medicines used to relieve heaertburn would negate the healing properties of the peppers in any way?

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Jessa, not that I know of. However, in some people, peppers can make their heartburn symptoms worse. And thanks for your kind comments.

    • Meera Trivedi

      Hot pepper has a kind of fat. Which gets dissolve in Milk and Wine. So when you are eating hot pepper use any one of these things as your drink.
      This fat prevents being ball headed too that is why you find less ball headed people in Warm countries.
      Actually if your hair from the back of the head is falling it is a symptome of any heart problem.

      • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

        Actually, you’re correct about bald men having slightly more heart disease. However, it’s a small risk factor, at most, and needs more studies to actually prove it. However, I haven’t heard anything about peppers and baldness. Whatever the case, peppers are good for you. So, enjoy.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Jessa, it’s hard to say. Some people have heartburn with peppers. Some people are actually helped. Possibly start a little at a time.

  • Jeff

    I read an article about how cayenne pepper (both powdered an tincture) can halt a heart attack and lower blood pressure. I have high blood pressure, and decided to do an expiriment. Having not taken my medication in the morning, I took my blood pressure, then stirred a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder into a glass of warm water and choked it down (pretty spicy), once I felt the flush hit my face I took my blood pressure again. My systolic had dropped about 20 points, and the diastolic by about 10 points. I don’t know if this is enough to stop a heart attack, but it was enough to convince me that there is something to the claims.

  • Matt in Oklahoma

    Excellent!

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Thanks, Matt.

  • Linda

    Dr John Chrisopher’s website Herbal Legacy has a useful article:”Cayenne”: http://www.herballegacy.com/Cayenne.html.
    I have used cayenne powder to stop excessive bleeding when I cut myself with a can lid in the fleshy part of my hand. I sprinkled dried chili powder in the cut and was surprised that it did not sting:) After about 1/2 hour I washed out the cut(which I may have not actually needed to do), closed it with home-made steri-strips and went about my day. I watched it for inflammation or infection – but it healed beautifully with ordinary good-common-sense-care.
    I feel that this is the sort of first aid to “experiment” with now – while we still have good health-care back-up in place…learn what works…..now.

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Thanks, Linda.

    • http://FloridaHillbilly.com db

      NOt to hijack the thread, but “home-made steri-strips”? Can you please elaborate?

      • Linda

        Hi db – Your right – I don’t want to get off into the weeds either; and hope it is OK with Dr. Hubbard that I reply. I like to use hypo-allergenic tape. With clean scissors, cut a piece 1-1/2 to 4 inches long. Cut this into strips 1/8 – 1/4 inch wide. I pressed the edges of the cut together to approximat the margins and secured them by applying the strips perpendicular to the cut. Antibiotic ointment on a 4 x 4 placed over the wound helped decrease chance of infection. Perhaps the “steri-“ part of the wound closure name needs to be omitted when they are home-made.(?) See how to make a “butterfly” closure at the bottom of this post: http://www.recoveryourlife.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2088528&postcount=3
        It worked for me. I offer my experience using this technique as an option for troubled times; and not as recommended substitute for medical care. Like I said – I feel, that now is the time to try these sorts of “experiments” – while we still have easily accessible health-care-back-up in place. Hope this helps.

        ~ Linda (Barefoot Yankee Gal)

        • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

          Thanks again, Linda.

          db, have you seen my video in the wounds section on “How to Repair a Wound with Duct Tape?” It’s basically the same technique as Linda is describing.

          • http://FloridaHillbilly.com db

            On my way there now, Doc…And thanks Linda!

  • http://FloridaHillbilly.com db

    I’ve used Sinus Buster for YEARS and swear by it. Nothing stops my migraines as fast as this stuff can. Not every time, but often enough to make sure we always have some on hand.

    Plus, being a chili head, I love the endorphin rush (the same things that cures the pain).

    Also, does a cure for cold feet count as medical use? When I lived up in the north, I would sprinkle cayenne powder in my socks to help keep my feet warm while hunting in the cold.

    • http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

      Interesting, db.