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The health benefits of cayenne pepper or mirchi include weight loss, good digestion, strong immunity, good blood circulation, treatment of heart diseases, dyspepsia, inflammation, headache, and throat congestion.
Cayenne pepper belongs to the Capsicum family and its botanical name is Capsicum annuum. It is the red or green chili pepper that is used to add flavor in food. Cayenne contains vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, carotenoids and the complete B complexes. It is also a source of calcium, potassium, manganese and dietary fiber.
Cayenne pepper is an integral part of many recipes in India. This herb, which came to India in the sixteenth century, has become so popular, that many people in the villages eat bhakri (bread mande of cereals) with a paste of cayyene pepper. Though this is not good for long term health, it is the staple food for many people in rural India.
The medicinal or health benefits of the Cayenne pepper include:
* Good for stomach: Diect containing cayenne pepper helps avoid stomach aches, gas and cramps. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine recommends mirchi for proper digestion as it stimulates the flow of stomach secretions and saliva.
* Rheumatic and arthritic pains: Topical application of cayenne pepper causes irritation in the applied area thus, helps distract the nerves from joint pains due to arthritis.
* Sore throats: It is said that water mixed with cayenne pepper can be ysed to gargle, when you have sore throat. However, people prefer not to use it as it is very spicy.
* Avoid congestion: Capsaicin stimulates secretions, which helps to clear the mucus from nose and lungs by clearing the sinuses and causing sweating. Often, in villages in India, if a person is having congestion in the nose or chest / lungs, some extra mirchi is added to the regular vegetables (bahji) to make it extra spicy. Tea mixed with cayenne pepper is believed to be good in conditions of cold and flu.
* Improves blood circulation: When any body part is sick, the blood flow to that area is usually affected. Cayenne helps to remove that entire blotch, stimulates the blood flow and makes sure that the vitamins are properly delivered to all areas and waste is removed.
* Heart disease: There are evidences that prove that giving cayenne extract orally, to a patient, helps to stop heart attack. Cayenne helps to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Cayenne helps to dissolve fibrin which causes formation of blood clots. It also reduces triglyceride levels.
* Cure Headaches: Smelling cayenne helps cure headaches.
* Relieves respiratory problems: Cayenne pepper is a source of beta-carotene which is helpful in reducing symptoms of asthma.
* Boosts immunity: Vitamin A or beta-carotene, in cayenne pepper, gives protection against invading pathogens by helping the development of healthy mucus membranes in the nasal passage, lungs and urinary tracts, thereby giving immunity against infections.
* Helps reduce weight: Cayenne added food helps lose weight with proper digestion. Therefore, it also reduces excess appetite due to mal-absorption. On another note, when you eat food which has some extra spicy mirchi, you tend to eat more water. This will definitely help you lose weight! Just joking.
* Good Anti-oxidant: Beta-carotene contained in cayenne pepper works as a good antioxidant that prevents or repairs the damages caused by free radicals. Thus, it prevents atherosclerosis and colon cancer.
Precaution: Like all other foods or herbs, we have to be careful when using this herb also. Excess consumption may cause burning sensations in the throat, stomach, or rectum.
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