Authored by: Emily Cuthbert

Latin Name: Capsicum frutescens

Standardized Common Name: Cayenne

Sanskrit Name: Marichi-phalam- meaning “fruit of the sun”

Other Common Names: Capsicum, Cayenne pepper, Habanero pepper

Family: Solanaceae

Parts Used: Fruit- pods and seeds

Botanical Description:

Capsicum frutescens is an annual shrub native to South America, growing up to 3 feet tall at its maturity. The peppers are long, shiny, and very thin, almost appearing as if they themselves are dried out. Immature peppers are green, and ripe peppers are a bright dark red. Leaves are elliptical, small and dark green in color. Inflorescence are tiny, white and grow one per leaf. The plant grows best in moist, well-drained soils that are fertile with full sun exposure.


  • Taste (Rasa): Pungent
  • Potency/Action (Virya): Very Hot
  • Post-digestion effect (Vipaka): Pungent
  • Doshas: KV- P+


  • Alkaloids: Capsaicinoids (generally safe)
    • Capasaicin:
      • Only professionals are allowed to use pure capsaicin.
      • The heating sensation you feel, but you are not actually getting burned!
      • Binds to TRPV1 sodium channel connected to nerves measuring pain and heat
    • Dihydrdocapsaicin
  • Vitamin C
  • Flavonoid glycosides
    • Flavones

Actions: Capsicum frutescens is a powerful heating and drying herb with stimulating circulatory and digestive actions. It’s safe to say this herb brings the heat, both topically and internally Caution and contraindications as well as interactions with medications should be considered before use.

  • Stimulant, non-addictive
  • Rubefacient, topically
  • Alterative
  • Expectorant
  • Analgesic
  • Circulatory stimulant
  • Antiseptic
  • Vasodilator, topically
  • Cardioprotective
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Hemostatic
  • Stimulating Diaphoretic, cools you down
  • Antimicrobial

Indications: Rheumatism, sinus infection, improving circulation, digestion stimulation, low vitality from mental stress, delirium tremens, wet congestion, cardiovascular health, colic

Safety/Contraindications: Discontinue use if irritation occurs, if overused topically, blistering may occur. Be cautious using in conditions with GI inflammation, heartburn and diarrhea.

Preparations and Doses:

  • Powder/Capsules: 30-120 mg 3x daily
  • Oils: Topical use


  • Capsicum annuum (cayenne). National Parks Board.,-Growth%20Form&text=Annual%20herb%20up%20to%200.3%20m%20tall.&text=Green%2C%20smooth%20leaves%20are%20elliptic,long%2C%201.5%20cm%20wide).&text=White%2C%20star%2Dshaped%20flowers%20are,the%20leaf%20petiole%20and%20stem). Accessed May 11, 2021.
  • Frawley D, Lad V. The Yoga of Herbs: an Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass; 2016.
  • Marciano M, Vizniak NA. Evidence Informed Botanical Medicine. Canada: Professional Health Systems Inc.; 2015.
  • Skenderi G. Herbal Vade Mecum: 800 Herbs, Spices, Essential Oils, Lipids, Etc., Constituents, Properties, Uses, and Caution. Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press; 2004.
  • Tilgner S. Herbal Medicine: from the Heart of the Earth. Creswell, OR: Wise Acres; 2020.