Spicy Healing

This is my personal, anecdotal observation about a folk remedy that was described to me more than 20 years ago, and its apparent efficacy. If you're not old enough to make an informed decision for yourself, please do not read any further. No one has endorsed what I'm about to tell you - it's just me talkin.

This is a treatment for a very specific sort of minor injury: a small gash. Not so big or in a place where you need stitches (or aren't sure), and not so small you're just going to wash it off and forget about it. It's a treatment that can (and should) be employed immediately. It may also be useful if stitches are warranted, but you won't be able to get to them right away.

First of all: stop the bleeding if necessary. Of course.

Second: wash the cut with soap and hot (or at least warm if it can't stand hot) water. Basic first aid so far, you'd be doing this no matter what.

After it's clean, and you've patted the area dry, here comes the fun part. With the cut still moist from a little blood and/or lymph, add some food-grade cayenne pepper. Not just a sprinkle, not so much that you won't be able to close it the way it was pre-gash. Close and cover it with a clean bandage. Keep it clean, closed, and bandaged for a day or (preferably) two. If everything went right, you may not need a bandage after the second day! It depends on where it is, and what you're doing, of course; protect it as needed while it's healing.

My God, doesn't that sting?! Why yes, yes it does. But it probably hurt to wash it out, too, and you weren't considering skipping that, were you? It stings mightily when applied, but the sting doesn't last very long, in my experience. It's followed by an analgesic effect (more than just "I'm glad that's over!"), and then by the whole reason for undertaking the treatment: the gash heals at least twice as fast as without the cayenne, and with a much lower probability of secondary infection.

I was first told about this from someone I trusted, enough to overcome my misgivings. Since then, I've had half a dozen occasions to use it (the most recent one last night), and it hasn't failed me. I've also come across various reports of scientific research into the primary active ingredient, capsaicin, that explain how it could work.

There are lots of web pages devoted to the good effects of cayenne pepper for other medicinal purposes. One informative page is on the AlternativeDr.com site. I didn't see one that promotes it for this particular application, though. You might also like Bryan Maloney's Lousy Little Pepper Page.

One caution: you'll want to keep the stuff away from eyes, and as with any treatment, watch for adverse or allergic reactions.

Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org


Sunday, 04-Mar-2001 21:34:15 MST