Staying tobacco free and wearing sunscreen has become commonplace habits in the effort to avoid cancer. While this is an excellent cancer prevention practice, heart disease prevails as the leading killer of all Americans. Since cardiovascular diseases are at the heart of American health issues, prevention is a hot issue. The hottest of them all is undoubtedly cayenne pepper, which aside from being obnoxiously hot is also excellent for cardiovascular health.
Cayenne pepper is probably best known for simply being on the spicier side of the hot pepper spectrum. At 50,000 Scoville units, cayenne pepper is hotter than the serrano, jalapeno and poblano peppers. Scoville units are the method used to measure spicy heat in peppers. It was developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, an American scientist. The scale ranges from the very low heat, sweet bell peppers to the extremely hot ghost pepper, which has recently been the subject of many social media uploads.
However, the ghost pepper is one of the several extremely hot peppers on the scale and has been replaced several times over as pepper harvesters are constantly developing new and more powerful peppers. The higher ranks of the Scoville scale will go on to display a variety of exotic peppers. At the very top, you will find American pepper spray and then finally, pure capsaicin.
Beyond the Heat
Capsaicin is the chemical compound that is responsible for the heat found in cayenne pepper, but also brings with it several unique health benefits. One interesting benefit of capsaicin is that it holds mild pain relieving properties. Topical creams and ointments with .025% to .075% purified capsaicin has been shown in several studies to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
The pain relieving properties are so effective, they have also been implemented in the use of topical creams and ointments used in the treatment of shingles, post-operative pain and pain resulting from diabetic neuropathy. While these pain relieving properties are fascinating, they only highlight one aspect of capsaicin’s benefits. Capsaicin is very helpful in fighting several diseases. Chiefly among them, cardiovascular disease.
Pepper Lives Matter!
Capsaicin rich cayenne pepper can be used to improve poor circulation, lower blood pressure and even reverse excessive blood clotting. It works to target the symptoms and catalysts of cardiovascular diseases, so it is a great addition in the effort to prevent a stroke or heart attack. Capsaicin has even been linked with longevity. Research from the Harvard University School of Public Health has found that individuals who ate spicy foods nearly every day have a 14% chance of living longer than those ate spicy foods once per week or less. This is an interesting statistic, but the spice factor needs to be taken into consideration. Spicy foods are often an acquired taste and not as universally satisfactory as maybe a sweet or savory taste.
If you find yourself among the less heat tolerant crowd, there are ways of sneaking around a meal that would otherwise leave you in tears. Encapsulated cayenne pepper extract is probably the most efficient way of obtaining heart healthy capsaicin. Nature Restore produces a cayenne pepper extract capsule with a minimum of 0.45% naturally occurring capsaicin, which clocks in about 70,000Scoville units of heat.
Don’t Try This At Home
Now, I haven’t personally tried the capsules from Nature Restore yet, but something tells me that it would be very foolish to remove the powder from the capsule. Remember that a cayenne pepper is hotter than a jalapeno or serrano at about 50,000 Scoville units. So I would guess that the extract of 70,000 Scoville units would be no exception when it comes to the heat.
Also, remember that Capsaicin is used in topical creams, so even touching enough capsaicin could lead to discomfort or even pain. This is why cooking with hot peppers can require careful attention, capsaicin residue on the hands can cause burning and even spread to other parts of the body. So, my advice would be to leave the powder in the capsule and save yourself the discomfort.
By Bill Hess, Nature Restore Wellness Contributor