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Hot Pepper to Ease Pain

Q. I have diabetes and high blood pressure. My blood sugar is under control with insulin and I am on Diovan for the blood pressure.

Over the last few years, I have suffered with numbness and pain in my ankles, feet and toes. It had gotten so bad that I had to stop my half-hour daily walks.

Many years ago I read that cayenne would improve circulation. I started with a 40,000 hu dose and worked my way up to 100,000 hu with no problems, but didn’t see any benefit. I stopped taking cayenne about four years ago.

Last week I started taking it again. I take six 100,000 hu capsules a day. In just a few days, I noticed that the numbness and pain in my feet had greatly subsided. After a week, the discomfort in my ankles, feet and toes is nearly gone. I walked for 30 minutes today for the first time in a very long while without pain.

Cayenne must indeed have a powerful effect on circulation. Has anyone else had such an experience with cayenne?

A. The chemical in chili peppers that creates the hotness is called capsaicin. It has been used in topical arthritis rubs for decades. There are also creams and patches (Qutenza, Zostrix, etc.) containing capsaicin for shingles pain and diabetic neuropathy.

Some readers tell us that taking cayenne in juice helps ease their arthritis pain. This is the first time we’ve heard of taking it orally for neuropathy.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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