A Detailed FAQ Guide on Cayenne Pepper
This cayenne pepper FAQ
page will address the most common questions I receive on cayenne (or Capsicum as it's sometimes
called) as well as those questions that may arise in the future.
This page will grow in time as well for I'm constantly getting
questions from interested parties. In addition, actual questions I've received from folks I've included in the
Also, if you do have a question about cayenne, please consult this page first before emailing
me as it will most likely answer your question.
Question: What is
the best way to store cayenne pepper or Capsicum?
Answer: Length of time the powder will store
depends on storage conditions. Refrigeration was actually not recommended by
famed botanical herbalist Dr. John R. Christopher. That is how I do it, though, and I see no problem
as I don't have anything to hermetically seal it.
You can keep Capsicum powder for up to a year if it's stored in a fairly cool place
at room temperature. It's been suggested that the best way to store Capsicum powder is in a hermetically sealed
can. If you do that, it should last two to three years. It shouldn't be put in paper bag, though.
Again, as mentioned, I just put mine in a plastic bag that I buy it in and put it in
the refrigerator.Question: If I store it in a can, will I have weevils or bugs
getting into it?
Answer: Good question. Dr. Christopher wrote to put a couple
of elder leaves in it as that would ward off bugs. You can also use wormwood on
top of the cayenne, although this could taint the cayenne's taste as wormwood herb is very bitter. When I
personally stored mine in a cupboard, I never had this problem. Bugs don't seem to like cayenne (it's even
been used in a home-made bug spray for that very reason). I just store mine in the refrigerator -- that works for
me, but each to his own! :)
Question: How many times a day did you drink cayenne pepper water to
initially resolve your hemorrhoids?
Answer: In all honesty, just once and it reduced the
swelling in two days. The itching, bleeding and blood vessel swelling all went away.
You should change your diet too. More fiber via fruits, grains and vegetables is
Question: Is cayenne pepper an alkaline
Answer: Yes, it is. It helps to balance the pH
levels in the body.
Question: And as far as when to drink, I understand that post workout is a bad idea, but
what about in relation to meals?
Answer: Ideally, it's best to drink Capsicum or cayenne half an hour after eating or half an hour or so
before eating. The general rule of thumb is to not drink any liquid of any kind with food for a bare
minimum of 15 minutes, or until the food has had a chance to pass out of the stomach.
It's not ideal to drink cayenne and then to take a meal or having it with a meal. By taking it alone with water,
you give yourself optimum benefit and you'll actually get less stomach agitation although it will, to be honest,
agitate the stomach nonetheless. The two most demanding physiological events in our bodies are digestion and coital
orgasms. No comment on the second one but as for digestion and cayenne, it's really best to take cayenne
Question: Is there any reason why you
couldn't put cayenne pepper in another drink? I thought about trying something along the lines of sugar free drink
mixes like Crystal Light. I just want to make sure that what I'm mixing it with doesn't negate the effect of the
Answer: The water ideally should be really warm. Not
lukewarm, not hot like tea or coffee, but somewhere between lukewarm and hot. That said, don't drink it if the
water is too hot and thus is uncomfortable to you. Famed herbalist/naturopathic doctor Dr. John Christopher said
hot was ideal for the heart. If you drink it cold, it still will have great benefits. Combining it with something
else other than lemon or maple syrup is not ideal although certainly allowable. It should be taken alone with water
for maximum effect. Adding lemon is great and maple syrup as well. In fact some think it's a wonder drink for
weight loss as the singer/actress Beyonce used the cayenne/lemon/maple syrup combination to great effect. That's
debatable. I can understand why you'd want to consume it with Crystal Light but drinking cayenne isn't as bad
as some think. Just make sure you start small and stay small for a while. I recommend no more than
a quarter of a teaspoon with 1/8th of a teaspoon being the best place to start. If that's too much, try even less.
Your body will quickly adapt. If you would like to learn some options for drinking it, check out this cayenne pepper drink options page within this site. Perhaps it will
Question: What are
the ratios of cayenne to mcg (micrograms) and mg (milligrams) and ounces in practical
Answer: One capsule of cayenne is equal to
about 450 milligrams or .45 grams. To be precise, .45 grams = 0.015873 ounces. In real world
practical terms, one 450 milligram capsule is about 1/4th to 1/3rd of a teaspoon.
Question: How much capsaicin is in Capsicum per 1/4th of a
Answer: One typical capsule of cayenne pepper,
which is about 1/4th to 1/3rd of a teaspoon has about .025% of capsaicin in it as far as I can tell based on my
research of that. In other words, that's 1/4th of one percent of the Capsicum in one capsule or 1/4th to 1/3rd of a
teaspoon is capsaicin the active ingredient.
Question: How warm is the water you mix it with? Warmer than room temperature?
Answer: Again, somewhere between lukewarm and
boiling hot. Cold works too, though. I'm used to mine warm now and that's the way I drink it. That's the optimal
Question: How many capsules should I start with?
Answer: Cayenne is very potent. One typical
capsule of cayenne is about 1/4th or 1/3rd of a teaspoon so if you decide to add cayenne to your health
regime, from experience, I wouldn't start with more than that. Quite honestly, drinking it is better for you than
taking the capsules as the capsules dissolve in the stomach and "shock" the stomach. Remember, digestion starts in
Question: Hello, I found your
website last week and began drinking the cayenne pepper water for a hemorrhoid problem. I felt pretty good
when I first started, reduced swelling and almost more energetic, but the last couple of days the problem has
gotten worse and I seem to be in more pain. I don't have a bleeding hemorrhoid problem, but it's more painful
as of late. Is this possible from constriction on the hemorrhoidal veins, or are new symptoms
appearing? I have been using about a 1/4 tsp for the last week. What do you know of horse chestnut
extract? Thanks for the help, I hoped this would rid me of this problem, but hasn't yet. Also, should I
increase the amount used, would persistent use be more beneficial in fixing the problem, or should it have fixed
the problem at this point?
Answer: I do know Capsicum or
cayenne pepper will heal hemorrhoids if you take it consistently. For me it cleared it up in two days --
literally. I suggest increasing your intake to perhaps a half a teaspoon. Sometimes the body adapts really
quickly. I have a friend who has terrible migraines. She's been taking cayenne for it and it's
helped but not as effectively as previously. She decided to increase the amount she usually takes and it
worked literally in minutes, she said.
While migraines are different from hemorrhoids, of course, perhaps increasing the dosage will help. I would also
start eating nothing but fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits and grains for a few weeks to help the healing.
Cayenne pepper does work, it really does, but its effects are compounding for the better when a high-fiber
diet is combined with it. Sometimes, like in my case, cayenne works immediately and that's enough for
I can't see how Capsicum would make the hemorrhoids more painful. I think what's happening is more symptoms are
appearing. Keep taking it. Your blood might have a lot of build-up of mucous in it and that could be causing the
new symptoms with the blood vessels there. What you describe sounds like a typical cleansing experience.
I am familiar with horse chestnut. I recommend horse chestnut too and if
used in a sensible way with cayenne it will amplify your results.
Dr. John R. Christopher, the famed herbalist/naturopathic who passed away in Feb. 1983, told a story of a
bodybuilder friend who had hemorrhoids so bad, he had to wear a belt. Upon seeing Dr. Christopher take his daily
glass of Capsicum water, he asked him if that concoction would help. "Only if you take it," Dr. Christopher said.
His friend started taking it and his hemorrhoids went away and he no longer had to wear the belt. Dr. Christopher.
doesn't mention if his friend changed his diet at all but I'm betting he did.
I hope this helps. Again, I'm not a doctor
but I'm only trying to help and I am not expecting anything in return for I only want to help
Question: Can I use cayenne for my eyes?
Answer: You should use cayenne in combination with other
herbs for the eyes but only under a trained naturopathic/herbalist's care. While you could put a
little cayenne in the eye, it would burn very badly. I've actually done this as a test for an
herbalist friend told me Capsicum won't hurt your eyes. (I was also wondering if it would really help my eyesight
in that eye as I'm half-blind it it.) It burned badly but my eye, while it watered profusely, was just fine. Not
the smartest thing to do but it didn't harm my eye. Don't do what I did. Capsicum is an accentuator to other
herbs and should be used only with discretion, judgment and wisdom by a trained herbalist for eye problems. I've
used an herbal formula called "eyebright," a Dr. Christopher formula and it works well. The amount of cayenne
in the concoction, though, is very, very, very small. So, best answer: don't use it for your eyes directly. Be
Question: Can cayenne pepper
be used for a toothache?
Answer: Yes. Clean the cavity and place cotton
saturated with Capsicum oil into your cavity. Capsicum will prevent tooth rot. You should see your
dentist, though, as soon as
Question: When I
started taking cayenne via a drink, I noticed a topical, isolated area (my neck) that became pink. It didn't happen
to any other areas of my body, though. What is going on?
Answer: Not to fear. Cayenne is a
"rubfacient" herb that will bring blood to the surface of the skin. It will bring toxins to the surface as well.
This will go away and is not harmful. Remember, cayenne pepper or capsicum is very nourishing to the heart and
to the venous system. Sometimes the face will go red with the flushing of blood to the surface. I recommend scaling
back your intake of cayenne until your body adapts. While cayenne is a great medicinal herb, it still
should be used with judgment and skill. I recommend starting with only one capsule or 1/8th to 1/4th of a teaspoon
of cayenne in a glass of water -- that's it. Let your body have time to adapt. By the way, if you're
interested in learning about some of the side effects of cayenne, click on the preceding link. Perhaps that info will
Question: Why should the water in the cayenne water
drink or with the lemon Capsicum detox drink be hot or warm? Why does the warm water
Answer: Let me quote Dr. Christopher, the famed
herbalist and naturopathic doctor, as he says it best. "The warm [cayenne pepper] tea
is faster working than capsules or cold tea because the warm tea opens up the cell structure -- makes it expand and
accept the cayenne that much faster, and it goes directly to the heart, through the artery system, and feeds it
with powerful food." I think that answers
Question: I believe in the health benefits of cayenne
pepper but drinking it causes my stomach to get upset, although it does go away in 10 to 15 minutes or
Answer: Good question. I totally understand, and
your experience is common. Drinking cayenne pepper water is not like drinking a strawberry milkshake, to be
sure. Cayenne is a very, very powerful herb. One of its drawbacks, though, is that it's hard to drink. I
understand that. I've had the same experience you've had too, by the way. Here's what I recommend: after you drink
your daily cayenne pepper drink, just sit still and don't move around too much for a minimum of 10 minutes. It
takes Cayenne about 15 to 20 minutes to pass out of the stomach. I've found that by just sitting very still
without too much moving around that the upset stomach feeling passes, and is barely noticeable IF I just sit at my
computer or in my office chair or on my couch watching TV. I've also found that whenever I increase my dosage of
cayenne, the old stomach upset comes back. However, I also notice my body adapts really quickly to it. Simple
advice, I know, but it works. Remain as still as you can. You should never drink it before working out or after
working out or you'll have the worst stomach ache you've ever had, and it will probably discourage you from ever
doing it again. Considering Capsicum's remarkable array of health benefits, I'm willing to be a little
inconvenienced, but what you do is your choice.
Question: Is the belief "the hotter the better" the way it is with cayenne? When I take 100k Scoville
Heat Unit cayenne it really burns in my stomach.
Answer: Yes and no. Yes, the additional heat due
to the extra capsacin in the 100k SHU heat is very good for you, but no from a practical matter. Cayenne at 30
to 50k SHU is already plenty hot. It's barely tolerable for some at that heat level. If one persists with one
capsule or 1/4th of a teaspoon of Capsicum in warm water, that is sufficient. Dr. Christopher, the herbalist who
popularized Capsicum, drank it three times a day. (He used a full teaspoon at a time from what I've been able to
find out. If anyone knows better, please let me know.) There is simply a trade off here. More heat is not
necessarily good from a practical point of view. Sometimes, less is more and it's true, in my opinion, with
Capsicum. While it's not ideal, try taking Cayenne after you have some food in your stomach. For optimal
healing benefit, especially if you have stomach ulcers, it's best to take it
Question: Does cayenne pepper make you smell like garlic
Answer: No! It doesn't work like that. I've never heard
that reported -- ever! Garlic, yes. I know that from personal experience too, but not cayenne. I've never heard of
that happening to anyone, nor have I read about
Question: Isn't just sprinkling it on my food enough?
Answer: In order to derive therapeutic health
benefits from Capsicum, sprinkling it on your food will provide some benefit but it won't be significant
Question: I'm new to cayenne. How should I start taking it?
Answer: I'm not a doctor so I want that
clear (see the disclaimer). I'm not diagnosing or prescribing anything. If you are going to supplement your health
regime with Capsicum (after clearing it with your doctor, of course), many Capsicum beginners start with 1/8th to
1/16th of a teaspoon in two to three ounces of very warm water of no hotter than 35,000 to 45,000 SHU Capsicum.
Many build up from there going to 1/4th to 1/2 to a full teaspoon in two to three ounces of very warm water. Hope
that answers it adequately enough. By the way, perhaps this cayenne capsules vs. cayenne tea page would be useful to you as well as this cayenne pepper drink options page. (Both are within this
Question: What does "SHU" mean?
Answer: It is an acronym that means
"Scoville Heat Units" and is a subjective indicator of the heat of the Capsicum. For more information on it, go to
this page within this
Question: If it is drunk shortly before bed, will it keep people
up, that is, will it cause insomnia?
Answer: Generally speaking, no, it won't. However, everyone is
different. It doesn't bother me in the slightest as regarding insomnia, but it may perhaps others. The key is to
start small and "stay small" if you will until your body really is acclimated to it. The best advice I can give
about drinking cayenne is to sit still and not move around a lot after drinking it. That principle applies at any
time it is imbibed.
Question: One thing I am not clear about is whether there is
any difference between Capsicum powder and chili powder as both of them comes from the same source. It seems that
Capsicum has less heat than chili.
Answer: It's a great question. There is a difference
between chili pepper and Capsicum although it is a slight one. The key is the Capsicum cultivar that the
chili pepper is made from. Typically the average chili pepper is made from the following
- Capsicum annuum, which includes many common varieties such as bell peppers, wax,
cayenne, jalapeños, and the
- Capsicum frutescens (sometimes called Capsicum fastigiatum -- this is a
synonymous classification), which includes malagueta, tabasco and Thai peppers, piri piri, African
birdseye chili, Malawian Kambuzi.
- Capsicum chinense, which includes the hottest peppers such as the naga, habanero,
Datil and Scotch bonnet.
- Capsicum pubescens, which includes the South American rocoto peppers.
- Capsicum baccatum, which includes the South American aji peppers (this info taken
from Wikipedia for time).
I would recommend you go to the following URL for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_capsicum_cultivars. Cayenne
is made from the first two families, namely Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens; chili
pepper from all of them. There's something special medicinally with the first two Capsicum annuum and
Capsicum frutescens. For optimal benefit, stick to cayenne pepper -- that's my educational
Which is better for daily intake? Is it better to take the Capsicum powder or the tincture?
Answer: Good question. The answer is the powder.
The tincture can be useful for emergency situations or for putting in wounds but overall, the powder is best for
daily intake, in my opinion.
Do the habaneros peppers or habaneros powder have the same value as Capsicum?
Answer: To answer the question, the key here is what peppers the
cayenne is made from. Cayenne pepper powder is made from Capsicum annum or the Capsicum
frutescens classified peppers. While habaneros are in the same family with the Capsicum genus within the
Solanaceae or "nightshade" family of plants, they are different. Habaneros fall within the Capsicum chinense
cultivar of the Solanaceae family. So they are related, yes, but there's something special about the Capsicum
annuum and the Capsicum frustcens families. Habaneros are great for one's health, there's no doubt about that. They also taste
great, if you like peppers that is. By the way, you can find some good info on the different cultivars in the
Solanaceae family here. Fro more info, check out the question that is directly before the preceding one.
There, you'll find a list of the different cultivars.
Question: The last time I contacted you, I was (and still am)
taking 1 level teaspoon (90,000SHU) of cayenne pepper three time a day with meals. I'm just wondering if going to
180,000 HU would be any more beneficial? I'm quite used to taking the 90,000hu now. Also, I carry a small container
with me every where. Is it a good idea to change the pepper occasionally in this container?
Answer: If you've reached one teaspoon, three times a day, that is
exceptional. You will most certainly have all the health benefits Capsicum will give with that level. Going to
180,000 SHU will be an adjustment just like it is when moving forward to 90,000 SHU. Take it slow, if you do it.
The additional benefits is that you will get additional capsaicin in your system, which seems to be highly
beneficial. There have been over 3,000 studies done Capsicum and capsaicin, according to Dr. Patrick Quillin's
book, The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper -- and that book was published in 1998. There have been at least a few
hundred since then in the following 13 to 14 years or so. Storing Capsicum is simple enough. Dr. John R.
Christopher said to put an elder leaf in the container of Capsicum to ward off insects, but Capsicum itself in my
experience is enough to ward off unwanted pests. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to carry around the
same Capsicum in a container. Of course, that is just my opinion. I have no supporting material to validate that
Question: If you start with the more
mild cayenne pepper at 30K SHU and build up to a teaspoon, and then move up to 90K SHU would
that be the same as taking 3 times the amount of 30K cp? Or start with about 1/4 tsp of the 90K and work
Answer: The answer is no, it would not be equal of 3x the
potency of 30k SHU (Scoville Heat Units) Capsicum. In fact, if one "graduates" from 30k
Capsicum to 90k SHU, one will have to acclimate to the potency of the 90k SHU Capsicum essentially starting back at
1/8th of a teaspoon or so. Especially if it's organic Capsicum. I wouldn't worry too much about SHU.
I've received many unsolicited emails from people who've experienced many health benefits from just plain ol' 35k
SHU Capsicum. Personally, I'm using 90k SHU Capsicum.
I hope this cayenne pepper FAQ page has been useful to you.