Cayenne Pepper Side Effects and Tips For Safe Use

| Modified on Aug 23, 2023
Cayenne Pepper Side Effects.

Cayenne pepper, widely recognized for its spicy flavor, is a prevalent culinary ingredient across many cultures. However, users should be aware of its potential side effects.

Over the years, Earth Clinic readers have reported multiple adverse reactions to the consumption or topical application of cayenne pepper. These include increased blood pressure, throat discomfort, dizziness, insomnia, and various digestive problems like heartburn, stomach cramps, and abdominal pain.

Cayenne pepper, often used externally for pain relief or circulation enhancement, has provoked intense burning sensations in some individuals. Interestingly, while many report that cayenne pepper alleviates sore throat symptoms, others claim it worsens them, describing a harsh burning effect.

Earth Clinic Reader Experiences with Cayenne Pepper Side Effects

Some Earth Clinic readers have vowed never to use cayenne pepper again, citing the strong burning or irritation, particularly after nasal application. Conversely, others believe the benefits outweigh the discomfort.

One account from Megan in Iowa highlights her unsuccessful attempt to relieve a sinus headache by snorting cayenne pepper: "I tried this remedy, using about 1/32 of a teaspoon in my most congested nostril. While it momentarily cleared my sinuses, the subsequent burning sensation and facial inflammation were nearly intolerable. I attempted to soothe the pain with my netti pot, but to little avail. My congestion returned within half an hour. In light of this experience, I would advise against this remedy."

Similarly, Ray from New Jersey shared his discomfort when trying the same remedy for a painful sinus infection, but he found the end result worth the initial discomfort. He said, "After applying cayenne pepper to my nostrils, my eyes watered uncontrollably, and I experienced several sneezing fits. The burning sensation was intense, but ultimately, most of the pressure in my head subsided, and my nose stopped discharging. Despite the initial discomfort, I found the remedy beneficial overall."

Guidelines to Minimize Cayenne Pepper Side Effects

To avoid adverse effects, always start with a minimal amount of cayenne pepper and gradually increase the dosage. Likewise, opting for a variety with a lower heat unit initially may be beneficial.

As digestion begins in the mouth, consuming cayenne pepper in liquid form, such as water or juice, may be more tolerable than swallowing capsules. This allows your stomach to anticipate the incoming substance, potentially mitigating a strong adverse reaction.

If you have experienced side effects from cayenne pepper, please share them with us! Continue reading below for reported side effects from our readers.

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1 User Review


Posted by Gulay Ersoz (Los Angeles, CA) on 11/11/2007

I have been taking one cayenne pepper pill a day with warm lemonade in the mornings for the last 2 weeks or so. I experience slight heartburn like feeling but it was not a big problem. Two days ago, I took two pills instead of one, and it was no more than 3 minutes after I swallowed the pills, I had the extreme cramping in my stomach, became very dizzy, my left arm was hurting and I felt tingling on my fingers and legs... Not only the pain was extremely bad, my head was spinning, I was having hard time walking in my kitchen. I was hot, I just wanted to stop the cramping and managed to throw up. Took two Tums... With the hyper ventilation and dizziness, I laid in the bath tub and turned the cold water on, (I was so out of it and unable to control my reflexes, I couldn't even take my clothes off) it took about another 10-15 minutes before the pain went away, and I actually managed to get up and walk around... I called my doctor friend and she asked me if I experienced chest pain, I said no. Other than that I had all the symptoms of a heart attack. Went to see a doctor, and after the EKG, I was told that I had a bad reaction to cayenne pepper. It was not a joking matter for me, as I was home alone with my 3 year old sleeping in her bed, I had to have a reality check. How healthy is it to be trying to be healthy???

Replied by Perry
(San Antonio, TX)

As a counter to your expose on Cayanne and after effects, I have consumed three 100,000 units per capsule (cool) cayenne daily for three years with no adverse effects (for high blood pressure). So... works for me!