Botanical Name: Capsicum Annuum Family: Solanaceae

Common name(s): Cayenne


  • Annual; herbaceous | 24 inches | White, star-shaped flowers early to midsummer followed by green fruit that turns red at maturity.
  • Full sun.
  • Prefers dryish soil.
  • Sow seeds indoors in a bright, sunny location, they prefer warmth for germinating, which will happen in about a week. Transplant outside after all danger of frost has passed.

Companions: basil and cilantro – will enhance each herb’s flavor.


  • Harvest the fruit when ripe (beginning in late summer) with gloves! Dry in the shade.


Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1/2 – 1 tsp ground pepper and let sit 10 minutes. Mix 1 Tbls of this into hot water and drink as needed.

Tincture: .25 – 1 ml 3x / day.


Constituents: capsaicin, carotenoids, flavonoids, essential oil, vitamin C

Actions: antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, stimulant

Uses: first aid, heart disease, immune support (useful for colds and flus), topical pain relief

Combinations: when combined with plantain and used as a poultice, it is very effective at drawing foreign objects out of flesh

Cautions: only use the pepper fruit. The other parts of the plant can be toxic.


  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary Gladstar

This herb found in most people’s cabinets packs a powerful punch! I’ve started adding it to a popcorn snack – air popped popcorn drizzled with a healthy oil (extra virgin olive oil, usually), and sprinkled with Himalayan salt, chili powder, and a pinch of cayenne. The picture above is dried and processed cayenne from my garden.