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Cayenne Pepper as an Appetite Suppressant

By August McLaughlin

The substance in pepper spray, used to fend off attackers, may also help ease the process of weight loss. Native Americans have used cayenne pepper as a food and natural remedy for 9,000 years or more, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Capsaicin, the substance responsible for the spice and flavor of cayenne peppers, has pain-reducing properties and has been used to treat circulation and digestive problems. Appetite suppression is an additional potential benefit.

Theories

Although cayenne pepper has been used as a remedy for appetite loss, it is gaining attention from researchers as a possible weight loss and obesity aid. Capsaicin has thermo-genetic properties, meaning it causes your body temperature to rise and may increase blood flow and metabolism, or the rate at which your body uses food for energy. These effects may increase the amount of calories you burn and potentially help suppress your appetite between meals, leading to more efficient weight-loss results. Over-the-counter weight-loss remedies have also been known to provide placebo effects, according to the Consumer Search product review website. Simply consuming cayenne pepper may instill the belief that your appetite is reduced and lead to improved portion control and weight loss.

Evidence

Studies regarding cayenne pepper and weight loss have primarily focused on its potential for increasing metabolism. A study published in "Clinical Nutrition" in 2009, however, also examined its effect on appetite. In the study, 27 participants consumed capsaicin, green tea, sweet pepper, green tea and capsaicin or a placebo for three weeks. Researchers found that sweet peppers and capsaicin combined with green tea led to reduced calorie intake and that capsaicin consumed with green tea suppressed hunger and increased fullness. Balancing calorie intake with expenditure through physical activity increased these benefits.

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Available Forms

Cayenne is available in fresh or cooked pepper, powder and capsule form. To add flavor and potential appetite suppressant benefits to your meals, season dishes with powdered or chopped cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper powder can also be stirred into tea, juice, milk and soups. No standard dosage of cayenne pepper has been established for appetite reduction.

Precautions

Like all herbal remedies, cayenne pepper supplements can cause adverse side effects and interact with medications. Potential side effects include stomach irritation, particularly if you're prone to heartburn or ulcers, and cayenne can worsen pain associated with kidney or liver damage. If you're allergic to latex, avocados, bananas, kiwi, chestnuts or bananas, cayenne peppers may trigger an allergic reaction. While preparing and eating fresh or cooked cayenne pepper, avoid touching your eyes to prevent pain and a burning sensation. Because cayenne passes into breast milk, the UMMC recommends that pregnant women avoid it. Cayenne pepper supplements may interact with antacids, blood pressure medications, aspirin, asthma medications and blood-thinning herbs and medications. To ensure your safety, seek approval and guidance from your doctor prior to use.

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