Red pepper and black pepper are used as spices in cuisines around the world. However, the two are not related. Black pepper comes from the Piper nigrum plant. Red pepper refers to peppers of the Capsicum family such as cayenne and chili peppers. Black and red pepper may offer different health benefits.
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Both black and red pepper have a long history of medicinal use. Ancient Indian and Chinese healers used black pepper to treat illnesses and conditions including toothaches, sunburn, constipation, diarrhea, insomnia and lung disease. Chinese and Indian physicians used red pepper as a treatment for stomach pain and ulcers. European herbalists in the 17th century believed that it could cure fever, chills and the common cold, notes Michael Castleman, author of "The New Healing Herbs. 2"
- Both black and red pepper have a long history of medicinal use.
- Chinese and Indian physicians used red pepper as a treatment for stomach pain and ulcers.
Cayenne Pepper for Migraines
Black pepper contains piperine, an alkaloid that lends heat to the berries of the Piper nigrum plant. The heat in red pepper comes from capsaicin. Both chemical compounds may trigger the production of stomach acids, which improves food digestion. The pepper may help relieve indigestion and prevent constipation. However, increased production of stomach acids, particularly hydrochloric acid, may increase the frequency and severity of heartburn, and may irritate stomach ulcers.
- Black pepper contains piperine, an alkaloid that lends heat to the berries of the Piper nigrum plant.
- Both chemical compounds may trigger the production of stomach acids, which improves food digestion.
Black pepper may be useful for people attempting to quit smoking. Cigarette replacement devices emitting black pepper vapor may help reduce a smoker's craving for the first morning cigarette, according to New York University Langone Medical Center 3. However, the connection between black pepper and reduced tobacco craving has not been thoroughly studied.
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Red pepper can be used for pain relief in several ways. Capsaicin may help relieve relieve diabetic neuropathy, which can cause pain in the feet, hands, arms and legs. It may also help relieve joint pain associated with osteoarthritis, a condition marked by joint inflammation and stiffness. Red pepper may also provide relief from cluster headaches, which typically produce intense pain in one side of the head. The pain-reducing benefits of red pepper may come from capsaicin's ability to interfere with Substance P, a chemical that facilitates the transmission of pain impulses to the brain.
- Red pepper can be used for pain relief in several ways.
- Capsaicin may help relieve relieve diabetic neuropathy, which can cause pain in the feet, hands, arms and legs.
Sweet Red Pepper
Sweet red or bell peppers also belong to the capsicum family but they are not used for the same health benefits that hot red and black pepper are used for. Sweet bell peppers are a rich source of vitamin C and fiber, providing more than 100 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin C in a 1-cup serving, and more than 10 percent of the recommended intake of fiber.
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- Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Spices; Bharrat B. Aggarwal, et al.
- The New Healing Herbs; Michael Castleman
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Aromatherapy
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peppers, Sweet, Red, Raw
- University of Rochester Medical Center, Health Encyclopedia: Cayenne
- Harvard Medical School, Harvard Women's Health Watch, "The dubious practice of detox." May 2008
- Reinbach HC, Smeets A, Martinussen T, Møller P, Westerterp-plantenga MS. Effects of capsaicin, green tea and CH-19 sweet pepper on appetite and energy intake in humans in negative and positive energy balance. Clin Nutr. 2009;28(3):260-5. DOI:10.1016/j.clnu.2009.01.010
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, "Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss, Fact Sheet for Health Professionals."
- Esmaillzadeh A, Keshteli AH, Hajishafiee M, Feizi A, Feinle-bisset C, Adibi P. Consumption of spicy foods and the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2013;19(38):6465-71. DOI:10.3748/wjg.v19.i38.6465
- Gagnier JJ, van Tulder M, Berman B, Bombardier C. Herbal medicine for low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD004504.
- McCarty MF, DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health. Open Heart. 2015 Jun 17;2(1):e000262.
- Kim CS, Kawada T, Kim BS, et al. Capsaicin exhibits anti-inflammatory property by inhibiting IkB-a degradation in LPS-stimulated peritoneal macrophages. Cell Signal. 2003 Mar;15(3):299-306.
- Laslett LL, Jones G. Capsaicin for osteoarthritis pain. Prog Drug Res. 2014;68:277-91.
- Leung FW. Capsaicin as an anti-obesity drug. Prog Drug Res. 2014;68:171-9.
Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.