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How to Use Cayenne Pepper to Relieve Back & Neck Pain
You’re probably familiar with the use of cayenne pepper for adding flavor to your cooking, but did you know it has medicinal properties too? If you’re suffering from back or neck pain, this is one natural remedy that’s well worth a try.
What is cayenne pepper?
Cayenne pepper originated in South and Central America but is now grown in many tropical regions. It’s a member of the Capsicum family – or, as we more commonly know it, chili pepper. Amazingly, its use as a food and a medicine dates back around 9,000 years.
The peppers get their spicy taste from a substance called capsaicin, and it’s this same ingredient which gives them their healing and pain-relieving power. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains.
You can buy fresh cayenne peppers in the supermarket; look for bright red flesh and a clean, healthy stem. Avoid any that look moldy, spotty or old. They will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week. Alternatively, look for dried peppers in health food stores. You can keep these in an airtight container and use them as required by cutting or milling them. Powdered cayenne pepper is also widely available.
How does it relieve pain?
Capsaicin is an irritant, which is why it causes a burning sensation when you eat it or get it in your eyes. When applied medically to a sore back or neck, capsaicin interferes with one of the chemicals that causes inflammation and sends pain signals to the brain. In layman’s terms, it creates mild irritation elsewhere which distracts the brain from the true source of the pain in your muscles or joints.
It can be applied externally to the affected area as well as taken internally. It may not stop the pain completely, but you should notice a significant improvement.
How to use it
Firstly, don’t just cut open a fresh pepper and rub it on the painful area. Capsaicin is powerful and can cause skin burns and inflammation. Also don’t use the essential oil as this can be too highly concentrated to be safe.
You can make your own cayenne oil at home quite easily. There are many different ways to do this, but here are two simple methods:
- Add 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne powder to 1 cup of warmed natural plant oil like olive oil or coconut oil. Mix well and apply directly to the skin. Increase the amount of powder if a stronger mixture is required.
- Infuse your own oil by placing 2 tablespoons of cayenne in 2 cups of oil and sealing the container for at least 2 weeks. This oil can be applied directly or used for cooking.
Apply the oil to the painful area by massaging it in. You may experience some discomfort from the heat but this should decrease the more you use it.
Don’t use it on broken or irritated skin as this will make the burning sensation more painful and may increase irritation.
If you don’t want to wait two weeks for the oil to become properly infused, or if you want a simpler way to benefit from cayenne’s healing properties, you can instead buy cayenne pepper tablets or capsules. These are swallowed just like any other medicine and are usually stocked in health food stores. Another way to consume cayenne is in a tea made from 1/4 teaspoon (or more) of cayenne powder mixed into a cup of hot water.
Other health benefits of cayenne pepper
It’s not just joint and muscle pain that cayenne pepper can help. Even if you don’t have any need to apply it topically as an oil right now, you can still use it in your cooking to benefit in other ways.
Cayenne pepper can also:
- Aid digestion
- Relieve pain from migraines
- Help you detox
- Suppress appetite to aid weight loss
- Prevent allergies
- Reduce symptoms of asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis (thanks to its high vitamin A content)
So, what are you waiting for? Get some cayenne pepper tablets or infuse your own oil ready to use next time you experience back or neck pain. And try spicing up your cooking to see if you notice an improvement in your overall health.
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