Hot Peppers Can Do More than Just Add Flavor

Growing pepper plants, such as habaneros, can do more than just add a distinctive spice to your dishes. Did you know that the same spices contained within your hot peppers can also ease everyday pains and illnesses? Even more, it has also been proven that they help you live longer.

Topical Pain Relief

Various forms of chili peppers have been used throughout the years as a topical pain killer. In most cases, hot pepper pain relief potions were made by crushing the pepper and mixing it with a base to neutralize its intensity. Additionally, the pulp from chili peppers was applied topically as a painkiller.

Today, you no longer need to spend time crushing your hot peppers and mixing solutions. Instead, a more modern version of chili pepper pain relief is found in capsaicin creams available at drugstores across the nation. Capsaicin cream is used for conditions such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, back pain, nerve pain, joint pain or even itching.

What Makes Capsaicin So Effective?

The secret to capsaicin’s effectiveness lies in its distinctive eye-watering, sweat-breaking, mouth-burning spiciness. Capsaicin, or its other compound 8-methyl N-vanillyl 6nonamide, is one of the capsaicinoid compounds found in chili peppers. These compounds work by activating your body’s sensory neurons to trigger the release of substance P. Substance P is responsible for the pain sensation your feel when eating a chili pepper. However, when these sensations come in contact with capsaicin, instead of further increasing your pain, capsaicin enters into specific pain fibers, releasing additional calcium inside your nerves and cells until they become so overloaded that they are forced to shut down. Once these cells shut down, numbness occurs. Consequently, your brain responds to both the pain and numbness by releasing your body’s natural painkiller: endorphins.

Herbs for Illnesses

In a study performed at Cornell University in 1990 on the differences of spices across continents and climates, almost 5,000 recipes were researched from nearly 100 cookbooks where biologists discovered that adding flavor to the dishes is not the only function of hot peppers. Research showed that hot peppers are also natural protectors against bacteria and microbes. Studies showed that people who consumed spices in hot climates lived healthier and longer lives.

According to the study, the effectiveness of these spices in fighting microbes and bacteria has been categorized. For example, spices like onions, garlic, allspice and oregano kill nearly all bacteria. Spices like tarragon, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, bayleaf, lemon grass and cloves kill around 80% of all bacterial organisms. Additionally, other peppers and spices that are found to kill around 75% of bacteria include:

  • cayenne pepper chillies
  • hot pepper
  • marjoram
  • rosemary
  • mustard
  • caraway
  • mint
  • fennel
  • sage
  • coriander
  • dill
  • basil
  • cardamom
  • parsley

A spice, when used individually, may have a positive effect; however, combining at least 4 or 5 together in a mixture like chili powder can help your body combat bacteria much more efficiently.