Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop




Cayenne tisane… is insane

Posted 20 April, 2007 at 10:10pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, Life)

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper in 2 oz. waterIn response to my post about sore throats, Papa (David Papandrew, co-founder and chief product officer of Fanpop) suggested a website of some home remedies. The top remedy on the website is the Cayenne Pepper Sore Throat Cure with 167 people writing in to say it works and 9 dissenters. So, I thought, "Why not try it?"

The "cure" is:

Penny's Cayenne Pepper Remedy: Penny from Fresno, CA writes, "If it is too late, as in strep, it takes gargling with cayenne in water every fifteen minutes until it goes, and be patient, because it GOES. I haven't had a sore throat take hold in 15 years or more, though many have tried to start up, which also is a way for many illnesses to sprout. I generally will gargle cayenne in water at whatever strength I like and do it as much as I can until I tire of it, and then repeat every fifteen minutes, each time swallowing a tiny bit real slowly (not necessary). It only stings the tongue a little when spitting out, otherwise, no discomfort, you can get used to even the swallowing part when you see how well it works. I use the cheap Mexican stuff, but also keep on hand in refrigerator the pesticide free stuff from health store. Cayenne is a miracle cure for ulcers and so many other conditions, plus aids assimilation of nutrients and vitamins. I will keep cayenne in water in the bathroom in case I get up in the night, so I can gargle once in the night if I am very sick, but if it is in water, it will go bad quickly and needs to be put back in refridge in morning. Afterwards suck on a clove (see below). I have never seen a sore throat that won't succumb to it."

Water and Cayenne PepperSo, I warmed up 1/4 cup of water and got 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper ready. (I then noted that I was running low on cayenne pepper and would have to pick up some more for my spice rack.) I took a picture. Then I mixed the pepper into the water and took another picture. Tina looked over and said, "Wow. Are you sure about this?" I shrugged and took the measuring cup into the bathroom where I set it down on the counter and stared at it. Man, that's a lot of pepper. I checked my throat and realized that I actually felt a lot better. Just the thought of gargling with that muddy red liquid was curing me. I didn't NEED to gargle because my throat had been properly scared into healing from just looking at the cayenne suspension. Nice.

Anyway, after a half minute of tricking myself that I didn't need to try it, I went for it. 2 ounces of cayenne and water went into my mouth and I gargled for as long as I could hold my breath - then I breathed through my nose and kept gargling. Four times I did this before spitting it out and pouring the rest of the liquid into my mouth for another session. As I finished up, I thought, "This is some tasty cayenne pepper." Then the burn started. It started on my tongue and crept around the insides of my mouth until the whole thing was on fire. Except, the throat. It was not burning. It had some slight discomfort, but maybe it was better than before, I wasn't sure.

I then walked into the kitchen and grabbed a clove and shoved it into my mouth. The burn was continuing and even growing, but not anything I couldn't handle. As I sucked and chewed on my clove, I thought, "This isn't working…"

Then the clove kicked in. You know when it does because you get a burst of strong clove taste - I couldn't tell if it was bitter or what, but it did have a sting (as if that's what I needed assaulting my mouth at the moment) and tasted pretty nasty. Then it started to numb everything. I felt it attacking my throat and then I just felt numbness accompanied by a slight cooling sensation. After the clove was gone (finally!) I found that my throat didn't hurt anymore, even when swallowing. My nose did feel like it was a bit more congested than when I started, but my throat didn't feel like it was filled with phlegm or anything. I took a sip of water and I could feel the water going down my throat - so Tina's theory that I would just burn and annihilate my throat was not quite correct.

I'm not cured, but the symptoms sure seem like they've been alleviated somewhat. I'll have to try it again without the clove and then later with just the clove. For now, I have to wait for the sore throat to regain it's former ferocity.

14 comments to Cayenne tisane… is insane

Anonymous, April 21st, 2007 at 3:23 am:

  • Maybe you can try gargling with a half cup of salty water instead of cayenne pepper water. Several times a day. It will reduce the pain and cure the sore throats. You will get better feeling right away and it won't burn your tongue and throat.

David, April 21st, 2007 at 7:01 am:

  • Works for me. If I don't have any echinaecia tincture, a teaspoon of hot sauce will usually blow a cold out of the water, but only if it's in its very initial stages…the beginnings of a sore throat and the dizzy head. Even some ground black pepper in a bit of water.

Judith in Umbria, April 21st, 2007 at 10:12 am:

    You can gargle with anything. Aspirin, salt, honey, cayenne. It washes away some of the microorganisms and relieves discomfort. It doesn't cure strep throat!

    Strep throat used to kill a lot of people. You need antibiotics if that's what you've got. If not, then gargle with something warm and drink a LOT of fluids.

    Get better.

Michael Chu, April 21st, 2007 at 3:58 pm:

  • So last night I tried just chewing on a clove. It was really nasty and numbed part of my tongue, but didn't seem to do anything for my throat.

    This morning, when I woke up, my throat didn't hurt anymore! I'm not cured - still a little bit stuffy but overall much better. I don't know if it was the cayenne pepper, chicken soup, variety of carbonated beverages, cloves, or sleep - but something seems to be helping me feel better.

Bucky, April 21st, 2007 at 11:28 pm:

  • That sounds kind of like my friend's remedy for sunburn. His dad told him to take a shower with the hottest water that he could bear. My friend said the shower was incredibly painful, but afterwards the sunburn felt a lot better, mostly because relative to the pain of the hot shower, the sunburn was nothing.

    My personal remedy for alleviation of sore throat pain is to drink cold beer. The coldness helps the pain, and I figure the alcohol might kill some of the germs or whatever is in my throat. If nothing else, then I get a nice buzz that also decreases the pain. =)

David, April 23rd, 2007 at 2:35 pm:

  • Hey Judith…take a nap.

David, April 23rd, 2007 at 8:14 pm:

  • To be more specific why would one think that people reading this blog have not been alive long enough to have gargled with many different substances in the course of life-long experimenting…and to observed the various results in a somewhat scientific manner, in correlation with the many different sequences of symptoms that happen with the large number of flu varieties in addition to the common cold?
    One might credit people with the ability to discern the symptoms between the harsh pain of a strep throat from those of the early stages of a cold or flu, and even if one somehow didn't, then if cold remedies don't work then understanding that perhaps it's time to see a doctor.
    I apologize for being somewhat short in my previous post, but I am disappointed by snap judgments in what is trying to be a thoughtful environment.

Daniel, April 24th, 2007 at 1:27 pm:

  • Hi there,
    The reason cayenne helps out is that it contains a lot of capsaicin. This compound causes a lot of neurotransmitters from your sensory nerves to fire up, temporarily depleting them, thus alleviating the pain. As you correctly state, this will get rid of your *symptoms*, but the virus/bacteria will remain in your body. This can be a little bit dangerous because since you feel perfectly fine, you are prone to go outside when it's cold or have some beers, which will lower your defenses and make the virus come stronger the next day (happened to me). As long as you keep this in mind you can gargle as much chili as you want.
    Oh, and since capsaicin is not soluble in water the best way to get rid of the pain in your tongue is to wash it off with something fatty (for example, cold milk)
    By the way, nice blogs.

Alice, April 24th, 2007 at 2:13 pm:

  • Instead of the clove, try chewing on a coriander seed - it kills the burning very quickly (works for curries and chilis too)

LAN3, April 25th, 2007 at 11:29 pm:

  • Speaking not as a medical pro but as a repeat Strep survivor (okay, you know what I mean), I recall that strep exhibits white colony spots on the throat, and I imagine that doing damage to those will strike a blow against the infection. I once had a sore throat (doc didn't feel like doing the labs since he was giving me antibiotics in any case) that was partly killed by some vodka kamikazes (I hadn't started on the antibiotics just yet, if you wonder)– but those drinks gave me a searing pain as they went past the inflamed part of my throat.

    Anyway, gargling salt water is great– it's fairly easy on the gag reflex, and does a good job of lifting extraneous mucus from the throat. Likewise, I and many people I know have gotten good results from flushing the nasal passages with saline. Some parts of the body seem to only hang on to the infection because a duct gets blocked and that part can no longer flush itself out. I got an infected saliva gland that way, and I rather assume the million sinus infections I've had caused be a similar problem.

Zach M., May 3rd, 2007 at 1:46 pm:

  • I've done the gargling with salt water thing in the past with success, but it did cause me to barf up a ton of nasty mucus. I felt much better afterwards though.

Michael Chu, May 3rd, 2007 at 8:12 pm:

  • I've gargled with salt water in the past and never had it cause me to cough up phlegm - it just makes my throat feel better. The same happened for the cayenne - no phlegm, but the throat felt better.

Suzanne, May 24th, 2007 at 2:35 pm:

  • I hate gargling with salt water - or any of the home remedies. As of yet I haven't found them effective and most of the time they just irritate my throat more and make it worse. The only thing that works on cankers or strep throat (with huge really awful cankers in the throat mind you) is lidocaine. Tea helps but only for a few minutes. Salt water - makes me scream in pain. Listerine, hurts like the dickens and I don't even want to try the cayenne pepper thing. You people are nuts! I agree that salt water MAYBE kills some of the bacteria - but what do you think it is doing to your poor mucous membrane tissue? Ever put salt on a fresh wound? Now why would you put it on a wound in your throat? Gag me. Maybe it works for others, but I will stay away from that noise.

Gracie, January 28th, 2008 at 1:22 am:

  • I have terrible phlegm to a point i cant talk its painful on the throat. i have been antibiotics no help really etc half teaspoon of cayenne pepper immediately relives my throat but i have to take it again after 6 hours and it burns my stomach. i am a milk/yoghurt addict will be difficult to kick these off my diet but they do aggravate the problem. i am thinking maybe if i get my tonsilitis removed have had problems since i was a child i might get better.