Cayenne pepper will stop a heart attack in it’s tracks! Really?

The skepdick heard yesterday that you can stop a heart attack in minutes with a few teaspoons of cayenne pepper dissolved in water.  My skepdickal radar went off the charts on this one and I couldn’t wait to get home to check it out.  I did a quick google search and found many a site making just such a claim (1,2,3).  

Let’s see if cayenne pepper is really so amazing that it should be carried by every EMT and doctor or if it is just another myth.  We will focus on the heart attack stopping claim and leave the numerous other health “benefits” of cayenne for another time.

A weak argument is if cayenne pepper really worked to stop a heart attack in minutes then hospitals and emergency personnel would use it, but since hospitals do not use cayenne, we can conclude that it’s not a worthwhile therapy.  But let’s give cayenne proponents the benefit of the doubt and assume that doctors and hospitals just aren’t open-minded enough.

Heart attacks , myocardial infarctions, happen when the blood flow to the heart is interrupted (usually when a clot or piece of plaque travels to the heart and gets “stuck”), causing an oxygen shortage in the heart muscle which slowly kills the heart cells.  Heart attacks can lead to cardiac arrest, when the heart stops beating altogether.  Cayenne pepper can not, I repeat can not, restart the heart.  De-fibrillation is the only chance the person has.  If you encounter an unconscious heart attack victim (whose heart may have stopped), DO NOT “put a couple of full droppers underneath their tongue”  and wait for them to revive, please call 911 instead.

The typical cause of heart attack, when a piece of debris dislodged from a blood vessel wall travels to the heart, can be due to many factors including elevated heart rate from exercise or high blood pressure acting on the walls of blood vessels.  The person may feel pain in their chest, weakness, and nausea.  It is important to get proper treatment as fast as possible since time is a factor, so it would be great if all we had to do was swallow some cayenne, right?

What do medical personnel currently do when a patient presents with symptoms of a heart attack?

Aspirin is often given to people who have just had a heart attack, not because it stops the attack, rather aspirin’s effect as a platelet inhibitor reduces the risk of more debris getting lodged in the heart by keeping the blood from clogging up.  Oxygen is also administered, since the heart is being starved for oxygen it makes sense to get as much into the lungs/blood as is possible.  Sometimes a patient is also given nitroglycerin, which acts as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

None of these treatments actually stop the heart attack (they don’t address the piece of debris lodged in the heart), they simply slow the process of heart death and keep the attack from getting any worse.  The only way to stop the heart attack itself is to remove that debris by A) dissolving it with some sort of clot busting medication (Thrombolytic drugs), B) physically removing it (Angioplasty), or C) bypassing the debris altogether (Coronary bypass).

Clearly cayenne pepper does not physically do anything to the clot (B and C).  There aren’t tiny nano machines inside cayenne that chop up the clot, nor does cayenne pepper magically create a bypass in your heart.  Therefore the only possible way this cayenne pepper heart attack myth is plausible is if cayenne can dissolve the clot itself (A).

We have to now ask a few questions about cayenne.  Does a teaspoon of cayenne contain a strong thrombolytic agent, or possess any thrombolytic capability at all?  And if so, do thrombolytics work if orally ingested and what is the time frame for this?  Lastly, is it safe to administer unmeasured home doses of cayenne thrombolytic medicine?

The answer to the second question is that most thrombolytic medicines are either administered directly to the thrombus (clot) or intravenously, meaning they bypass the digestive system and are injected directly into the blood.  Doctors do not suggest peroral delivery of thrombolytics for acute heart attacks since it would be too slow.  I was unable to find any study explaining a mechanism for how long it would take the body to absorb and distribute them into the bloodstream.  So if cayenne is dissolved in water and ingested, it is highly unlikely that it would work, certainly not as fast as if introduced intravenously.  Please don’t try mainlining cayenne either, it would be very painful.

The decision to administer thrombolytic agents is complicated and determined by many factors.  Thrombolytics are not always safe and can make the original problem worse in some cases.  This decision should be made by a doctor, not your friend shoving cayenne pepper down your throat.  (Also, if cayenne actually worked this way, you’d need a doctor’s note to eat my homemade guacamole.)

So, the first question remains, does cayenne contain a thrombolytic agent?  The answer is, wait for it, no.  There are of course no studies proving this, but as usual I can’t prove a negative.  For example I can’t find a study showing that a Big Mac contains no Sildenafil, but I don’t see McDonalds trying to get you to eat one to cure your ED.  No one has investigated whether a cayenne is thrombolytic because it just isn’t.  Science has established what a thrombolytic agent is (cayenne is not in this category), and what sort of compounds act thrombolytically (cayenne molecules do not).  The only real data about cayenne is that it makes you feel a sensation of heat when there isn’t one.  From a biochemical standpoint, there is no possible way ingested capsaicin can dissolve a blood clot.  It just doesn’t work that way.

What can we conclude?  Cayenne pepper will do nothing for you if you are having a heart attack.  It may just burn your mouth a little bit, or you may have intense pain, blistering, severe gastritis and diarrhea.  Do you really want to swallow the equivalent of a shot of pepper spray while having a heart attack?  There is simply no mechanism by which cayenne can stop a heart attack.  Cayenne is certainly NOT recommended for anyone having heart attack symptoms (it may even be the cause).  Medical personnel should immediately be contacted before any home remedy is administered.

Next time someone tells you about an easy home remedy for a life threatening medical condition, be a skepdick and understand it’s probably just a myth.



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71 thoughts on “Cayenne pepper will stop a heart attack in it’s tracks! Really?

  1. Gavin

    Wow, what an utterly foolish article. You totally ignored the real and credible evidence that suggests cayenne will END a heart attack in favor of your own pompous view that since it makes no sense to your small mind it obviously must be false.

    I’ll bet you fit right in with the modern medical establishment.

    I wounder how many people will potentially not have help when they need it because of you. Way to go.

    1. skepdick Post author

      I thought the evidence I presented showed fairly conclusively that cayenne has no properties by which it could end a heart attack. Please send me a link to the “real and credible evidence” that you have found. My mind may be small but it is always open to new evidence. This is the whole point of scientific inquiry, right?


      1. JJ

        Even Western Medicine generally holds the belief cayenne helps with vascular health issues and in several other areas as well. Check the link below:

        It is believed in holistic medicine to boost nitrogen oxide levels and help clear away clots as well. It works on both ends of the vascular spectrum, preventing ischemic stroke/heart attacks on one hand, and on the other hand preventing aneurysms and stopping internal/external bleeds by inducing clotting when needed.

      2. John Wigmore

        WOW … It is so dangerous for you to comment on things you know nothing about.
        #1 You say a heart attack happen when the blood flow to the heart is interrupted (usually when a clot or piece of plaque travels to the heart and gets “stuck” …. NO not really you need to be more specific. We are not giving restaurants reviews. Some people believe everything they read. A far as studies or articles about this topic. Here are two. What other wrong or misleading information you have given out, based on this one article I think you should shut down your website. Before you kill someone. Who am I *** PhD in Mechanical Engineering MIT PhD in Electrical Engineering Stanford IQ 187……

        1. skepdick Post author

          Yes, it is dangerous to take medical advice from a non-professional. That’s why I recommend against going to the spice rack instead of the ER. You say I need to me more specific about the definition of a heart attack? What do you think the definition is? If you really have a PhD in anything you should know that and are terrible websites filled with pseudoscience and absolute bullshit. If you think they are the go to source for medical advice then you are sorely mistaken. I’m not shutting my website down, but you should think twice before leaving such an ignorant comment. Good day.

        2. Kelli Massingill

          Thank you John…I am just an average person with none of your credentials, however I have studied natural medicine since I was 9 yrs old. Having read numerous articles, books, papers on studies, and having tried numerous herbs and remedies, I am completely convinced of their worth…and in all my home trials have never once experienced even the tiniest ill side effect…in fact it is cayenne that lowered my high blood pressure to normal and has kept it there for several years. Thankfully I do not have to take high blood pressure meds because 1 tsp of cayenne in 6 oz of water daily keeps my blood pressure normal. It never ceases to amaze me how so many ppl are blinded to natural medicine and it’s many health benefits but are so eager to take poisonous prescription drugs with all their horrible side effects…but we’re the crazy ones…smh

        3. Dost Thou Even Logic Brethren?

          Dude… Seriously. Are you trying to make hollistic medicine look bad?

          1. The Harvard medical dictionary defines heart attack as:

          “The common term for a myocardial infarction. It refers to the damage that occurs when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked or drastically restricted. The blockage usually stems from the rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque.” [1]

          So his definition of heart attack is correct, and more than adequate for the required issue to be understood.

          *Non sequitur fallacy*
          2. The websites you listed are both horrendously unreliable anti-science websites that contain claims that have been thoroughly disproven time and again by actual scientific research and experimentation.

          *Appeal to false authority fallacy*

          3. Your degree in engineering only serves to prove the pompous arrogance of engineers who think alleging to have a high IQ and Ph.D in engineering makes them superior in knowledge than everyone in every field. But I’m sure you listen to Ph.D medical doctors tell you how to engineer things all the time don’t you?

          *Argument from incredulity fallacy*
          *Appeal to false authority fallacy*

          But hey, thanks for inspiring all the readers here wanting to become an engineer but unsure if they have what it takes, that even a retard that doesn’t understand science can still obtain a degree.


    2. Donald

      pepper spray is typically almost 2 million Scoville units…most cayenne pepper especially store bought is 40 thousand units….It is safer than Coumadin….No mention of that either….

  2. Sally

    Capsaicin (a constituent of cayenne and other ‘hot’ peppers) is seen as a vasodilator – a quick visit to pubmed brings up several articles referring to it as such. It’s also why people tend to feel warm, turn red, and/or sweat when they eat spicy food (especially when they are not accustomed to it).

    As such, it’s recommended use is actually akin to that of nitroglycerin. My feeling is that this is one of those bits of common perception that cayenne stops a heart attack (just like common perception dictates that nitroglycerin or aspirin stop a heart attack, and we know that’s not the case…). Also, conventional wisdom and common sense dictates that this is a treatment to be paired with getting checked out by a medical professional, and may only “buy time” on the way to do so. It’s also more likely found in peoples homes than nitroglycerin or, perhaps, aspirin.

    On the note of it actually causing heart attacks, I have not read much, and would appreciate the same sort of referencing suggested for the opposing argument, so that I can better understand.

    1. Sally

      On the latter note, I did check out the article you linked to, which states in the abstract that there is conflicting data on the effects of capsaicin on the cardiovascular system. I would also venture to say that a single article looking at a single individual does not provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt about its implications in causing harm. Also, substantial chronic use of anything is generally very different, therapeutically, than a single acute use.

      When looking at burden of proof, as suggested, there is conflicting data in terms of effects of capsaicin on the cardiovascular system. That said, there are also a substantiation number of articles which do support some kind of vasodilatory effect.

      1. skepdick Post author

        It is true, a single article looking at a single case does not prove causation. Here is another case of cayenne pepper weight loss pills linked to myocardial infarction. I wrote in my original article that capsaicin may be the cause of heart attacks and in these two cases there is a strong link. However, my main point was that cayenne pepper and capsaicin do nothing to stop a heart attack. You suggest that capsaicin is a vasodilator which is why it causes feelings of heat and that it is akin to nitroglycerin. You also suggest that cayenne would “buy time” by which I assume you mean would slow the effects of the heart attack before medical personnel arrive. Let’s take these in order. Is capsaicin a vasodilator? And if so, does it work topically or orally? What is the proper dose to achieve vasodilation? What is the time frame? You write that pubmed contains several articles referring to capsaicin as a vasodilator. I was unable to find any research on pubmed that decisively confirms capsaicin to be a vasodilator and what mechanism it would use. All I found was research on local vasodilation due to topical administration of capsaicin. Nothing about vasodilation of the arteries or veins around the heart due to ingestion of capsaicin. Therefore I cannot confirm that it actually is a vasodilator. If it were, we would need lots more research to determine its efficacy when taken orally including the dosage and time before the effect was realized. This is probably the article you are referring to where they link capsaicin to vasodilating properties. However, this study was done in a petri dish, not on a living person and really only investigates pathways and mechanisms rather than real world ingestion of cayenne pepper.
        The reason capsaicin makes the body feel heat has nothing to do with vasodilation. Here is a paragraph from the wikipedia page:
        Capsaicin selectively binds to a protein known as TRPV1 that resides on the membranes of pain and heat sensing neurons.[32][33] TRPV1 is a heat activated calcium channel, which opens between 37 and 45 °C (98.6 and 113 °F, respectively). When capsaicin binds to TRPV1, it causes the channel to open below 37 °C (normal human body temperature), which is why capsaicin is linked to the sensation of heat. Prolonged activation of these neurons by capsaicin depletes presynaptic substance P, one of the body’s neurotransmitters for pain and heat. Neurons that do not contain TRPV1 are unaffected.
        You mention nitroglycerin and aspirin. Neither of these stop a heart attack. Aspirin in a 325 mg dose is suggested immediately on recognition of a heart attack (myocardial infarction), but this has nothing to do with vasodilation. Aspirin interferes with platelet adhesion and helps keep the blockage inside the heart from getting bigger. Nitroglycerin is a vasodilator (this article on vasodilation may help) but if one uses the tablets that dissolve under the tongue during a heart attack, the effects of nitroglycerin are short lived. It must be given intravenously to have any real effect on lowering venous blood pressure and keeping the heart supplied with oxygen. Both nitroglycerin and aspirin are drugs whose exact strength is known. If a person having a heart attack tries to dissolve cayenne pepper in water and swallow it, the amount of capsaicin is variable and unknown. Capsaicin is not proven to be a vasodilator, it is unknown how much would need to be ingested, it is unknown how long till this vasodilation effect would begin nor how long it would last. It is unknown what type of vasodilation effect capsaicin would bring about, i.e. arterial, venous, or balanced. Basically cayenne pepper is, if not worthless, possibly dangerous to ingest if you are having a heart attack. Common sense dictates that this is a treatment that should not be attempted and the only treatment you should attempt when having a heart attack is to get to a hospital as soon as possible so they can administer proper drugs to get rid of the blockage in your heart.

        1. Lisa Van't Wout

          Perhaps we all might read Dick Quinn’s book, “Left for Dead”. His major heart attack and open heart surgery were in 1978 and believes that the medical establishment would have killed him had he continued with their ideas. He has been treating himself and brought himself back from the abyss of death by treating himself with cayenne and garlic these many years. This is one person who has used cayenne successfully, not a petri dish. Just sayin…

        2. charlie

          “proper drugs”

          what do you think constitutes the molecular basis for “proper drugs” ?
          we don’t even know how aspirin works and it is a derivative of a naturally occurring compound.

          take it easy on those “proper drugs” skepdick

          1. skepdick Post author

            Proper drugs are those whose mechanism we understand. One such drug happens to be aspirin and we know exactly how it works. The mechanism was discovered in 1971 by British surgeon John Vane. We shouldn’t be putting random drugs into our body in the hope that they will not have adverse effects, especially if we are experiencing some sort of life threatening event such as a heart attack.

        3. Mellisa Vogel

          How about Hawthorn? That one’s good for the heart. What happens when you combine cayenne pepper and Bayer aspirin, anybody know? Cayenne pepper will heal an bleeding ulcer. Cayenne pepper probably will just ignore the clot.

          1. skepdick Post author

            I start medical school tomorrow. Any updates on this topic that I learn about in the next four years and I will post it to this blog.

  3. Zangler

    The author of this article clearly has no idea how to:

    A) Properly write an article entry which clearly demonstrates his opening argument


    B) Understand basic biology

    I assume this ‘Skepdick’ garbage is just another site devoted to dismissing everything in an attempt to be edgy, usually by an author without any sort of education or medical background whatsoever. In this case, mostly Guy #34453 Living In His Mom’s Basement Trying To Make A Living Off Blogging.

    First off, the author is over-divulging. If you’ll notice, during the article he takes the time to address the more complex verbal definitions of terms we are already familiar with. This is a common tactic to gain authority and credibility when the person’s argument is weak; basically, “Here’s some big words! Please think I know what I am talking about!” – It’s adorable. I did this in ninth grade a lot on Livejournal. It’s also bullshit.

    Here, we have a person who is basically frantically googling to support his (very weak) claims that simple biology doesn’t work. When his initially vague, mostly hyperbolic article is challenged, he returns to google, desperate for confirmation bias, and returns with a vengeance.

    Oh, and here’s the nitty gritty:

    “University of Cincinnati researchers have surmised that a ordinary over-the-counter pain salve which contains capsaicin, which when rubbed on the skin during a heart attack possibly acts as a cardiac protectant which can decrease and even stop damage to the heart. Researchers had discovered that 85% decrease in cardiac cell death had occurred when capsaicin was applied. Dr. Keith Jones, PhD, and researcher in the university’s department of pharmacology and cell biophysics, states that the capsaicin was the strongest cardioprotective reaction ever recorded.

    Dr. Jones and associate researchers had applied capsaicin to particular skin areas in mice which caused responses in the nervous system. Expressly in sensory nerves of the skin that were set off to activate what scientists refer to as cellular “pro-survival” pathways in the heart. The findings had shown that the heart muscle was guarded from injury.

    Researchers also had discovered that by making a tiny incision in the stomach area of the lab rodents, it had set off an 81% decrease in death of heart cells. Dr. Jones summarizes that this event along with the capsaicin have demonstrated to work by way of similar mechanisms. This type of distant cardioprotection, by using the skin impulse to set off cardioprotection a long time prior to the blocked artery opening.

    According to Dr. Jones in a media statement, capsaicin in topical form has no known side effects and can be easily applied to patients in an ambulance or emergency room way ahead of time of coronary tissue death. This therapy holds great possibility for the reduction of injury and/or death of the event of coronary blockage. This reduces the amount of damage from a heart attack.”

    Cayenne is a known Vasodilator. No, this is not a cure for heart disease. But it will save many a person’s life if they are struck with an infarction of ANY kind (no, not just heart idiot – this works for any blockage) and are not immediately within the reach of medical care. You see, any prolongation of infarction leads to rapid tissue damage due to lack of oxygen. Therefore, your seemingly bulletproof advice of ‘just wait and call 911’ may actually damage or kill a human being. This is merely being posited as an IMMEDIATE solution until medical staff can care for the patient. No one is stating that this is a cure for heart disease. Stop being so liberal with strawman arguments when you defend your points.

    Please, for the love of all that is good in the future – stop writing articles of subjects you have absolutely no grasp on. Someone may one day actually find your site and take this drivel as face value. For the record, until medical staff has arrived, Cayenne is an excellent method for prolonging constriction and thus cellular death until the condition can be properly dealt with.

    Also, if anyone enjoyed this summary of why this article sucks, and wants to know what else sucks, check out my website! It’s not as edgy, nor does it emit a a desperate need of approval, however if you like -real- shit, that’s all I write about. Oh, and exposing morons. I do that a lot.

    Anyway, terrible article.

    1. skepdick Post author

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to my article even though you resorted to ad hominem (that’s a big word for ‘personal’) attacks on me. I’m not going to bother responding to your claims about me, instead I’ll stick with what I can prove and discuss your evidence. I’m quite sure I understand biology, but I’m not sure you do after reading your comment.

      Your nitty gritty as you call it is an article from Circulation in 2009 where the authors investigated the mechanism for what they call remote preconditioning of trauma (RPCT). They wanted to know how a RPCT followed by an ischemia/reperfusion injury (that means they blocked part of the heart from receiving blood and after a little while allowed the blood to flow again) affected infarct size (that means they measured how much heart tissue died during the blockage). It turns out that if they made an incision in the belly of a mouse before the occlusion (that means blockage) and reperfusion, the infarct size was reduced. Surprisingly they were able to achieve similar results if they just applied some capsaicin instead of making a surgical incision. Pretty cool actually.

      However, what you don’t realize is twofold. First, this RPCT treatment to provide cardioprotection, is shown to work in mice only if done before the simulated heart attack. It’s called preconditioning for a reason. Other studies have shown that you can’t do the equivalent of rubbing capsaicin on mice 24/7 and get the same effect. The real world application of cayenne to your skin would have to be done right before you have a heart attack. Not during. I do agree however that in a patient who was at immediate risk of having a heart attack, this treatment does suggest interesting possibilities.

      Second, this is a preliminary investigation and has not been tested on humans. The authors themselves conclude, “If proven efficacious in humans, this simple therapy has the potential to reduce myocardial injury in the setting of I/R, thereby reducing the extent and consequences of acute MI.”

      You write that cayenne is a known vasodilator. No it isn’t. The mechanism by which the authors think capsaicin works as a RPCT is both hormonal and neurogenic. This has to do with how the cardiac nerves are stimulated by the central nervous system and mediated by hormonal signals. Nothing to do with vasodilators. There is no proven treatment (yet) that cayenne pepper will save anyone’s life during a heart attack.

      You claim I’m using a strawman argument (where exactly in my article did I do this?) when you’re the one putting words in my mouth with your straw man. Nowhere in my article did I use the words heart disease in conjunction with cayenne pepper, I only reported on an immediate heart attack (blockage in the heart itself).

      For the record, cayenne has no affect on “prolonging constriction”. Whatever that was supposed to mean. Cayenne has no effect on stopping a heart attack, but investigations are still under way to see what its role is in remote preconditiong and cardio protection in humans.

      I’m sorry you thought my article was terrible and surprised that you think my advice of calling 911 (when you feel symptoms of a heart attack) would result in more damage or death. Until any treatment has been proven by science to work, I suggest you don’t try it.

      Feel free to check out the rest of my website, it’s also about real things, but doesn’t call people morons. (Although I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis with Meniere’s Disease.)


  4. Zangler

    “This comment is currently awaiting moderation”

    Well, if you are even remotely about the truth, then you have no need to screen comments. I’ll wait 24 hours, then I’ll go down alternative routes which will probably suck for you. Nothing personal – just not a fan of seemingly ‘rational’ minds spreading ignorance and disinformation simply in order to fill out some paragraphs.

    1. skepdick Post author

      It would be silly of me to allow comments on my own website without screening them first. I certainly don’t mind harsh criticism, but I certainly am not going to allow hate speech. Thanks for the threat of action though. Much appreciated.

    1. skepdick Post author

      The article you are referring to from Circulation was discussed in a previous comment. Thank you for the link however, new and real evidence is always appreciated.


  5. vf0

    From memory the general premise is the intense heat it causes (they say 90,000 + hu’s but some pepper varities can reach 1-2 million) makes the body respond with greatly increased bloodflow through whatever response which normally promotes healing but for the heart if plaque buildup or such is the cause I guess the idea is all that blood unclogs the drain. So the hope is the faucet and outflow is increased and the gunk gets broken up enough so 02 can easily enter and minimize it. Dead heart cells are heart dead cells and take time to replenish in a healthy enviroment so miracles are out of the question but its not much different than a respirator just a different approach more readily available to john and jane public.

    I wouldn’t knock it down into any extreme. I wouldn’t want it to come to relying on it in that situation either in the first place. Incorporate the hottest peppers and powders you can into your food as time is the great multiplier to all medicine.

    I also wouldn’t rule out complications like interactions or weakened condition like already having had bypass,etc. There can easily be situations where you don’t want a rush of blood happening.

    Dr’s need to give it thorough checks and re-checks though because whether they take stock into something or not patients often do and its bad science to have those variables unknown to you (and irresponsible when you have the power to know)

    1. Reign Supreme

      Vfo..I agree with you; variables do matter; as they should with all things of “matter” which is what the stuff ALL things in life contain right! As a “matter of fact” you cant see one without the other,points of view is singular not plural ( not one in the same) Although opposites attract, they dont always form bonds! (food for THOUGHT) So people choose wisely & let your conciouse be your guide. We all have an opinion on this subject matter and if it werent for opposing opinions, all points of would be mute. The LAWS OF NATURE will always apply NATURALLY. The platform from whence all seeds come from ………….Mother Earth.Yet let us not be fooled, for “TIME” waits for NO ONE.

  6. anita

    Wow. Soo many opinions,and soo little evidence to support them. Firstly thank you skepdick for a pretty insightful and well researched article. I agree wholeheartedly with you. And guess what. I have a medical degree. In fact I am a Specialist Physician that deals with heart attacks every day!
    Cayenne pepper does not work for ANYTHING other than culinary adventures. Well actually it does help for neuropathic pain when applied topically but that’s a whole other story.
    There is NO scientific evidence in humans to support its use. Anyway the moral of the story is if you are having a heart attack chew an aspirin and get your ass to the hospital.

    1. HospitalsAreDeadly

      Anita, please stop spreading false information to protect your profits. Doctors and Hospitals absolutely HATE any cheap, effective, natural treatments, so they make up a lot of stuff to protect their “Deadly drug” profits. Hot peppers are seriously good for you. And I have seen stories, (no proof you just have to TRUST THEM…why would they lie?) about a home doctor who treated heart attacks for years, NEVER HAD A SINGLE PERSON DIE, but Hospitals have a very high death rate for heart attacks. Also a guy was already dead, heart not beating, and he put a dropper of Cayenne under his toungue and his heart started beating again!! So, while you say it can’t work i believe it can. Even even so, even if it didn’t work, I would NEVER Risk going to the hospital. I haven’t set foot in one for almost 20 years. I treat everything myself, with cheap home remedies, that cost less than $1…..(yes one dollar) No need to waste money and health on these deadly drugs. But then again maybe Anita is just ignorant, since they don’t train doctors in REAL medicine. Only DRUGS> DRUGS ARE BAD FOR YOU, THEY DONT CURE ANYTHING AND THEY WEAKNEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM WHICH IS YOUR NATURAL DEFENSE AND CURE FOR ALL DISEASE……I hope anyone reading this does not fall for that scam. You DONT NEED THE HOSPITAL. I even broke some bones in a car accident and I did not go to the hospital. I was cured much faster using home remedies than I would of been going there to get a cast. TOTAL AND UTTER DEADLY SCAM, which makes me mad to see these doctors spreading the lies they’ve been taught.

      1. Habaneros also work well

        Yes I agree and believe it does stop heart attacks. I personally have blood clots, and they break off in my lungs a lot and I can barely breath when this happens sometimes. I don’t ever go to the hospital or take their treatments. I simply eat a bite of Habanero and it stops it and I can breath again! Or I eat the whole pepper. I am used to them now. They can be pretty hot, but I’d rather go through a burning sensation for 10 minutes, rather than be gasping for breath (and possible death from the blood clot, they can cause heart attacks) I will never set foot in any hospital. If I am going to die, I’ll die using natural treatments, NOT deadly drugs!

      2. Madhan Vasanth

        Hey, Thank you so much from a man who has 3 artery blockage with 90%, 85% 74% respectively at the age of 26 and looking for remedy at least some hope after tried all the possible medication for 3 years now, will try this for sure, thanks again

    2. Summer Else

      Actually Anita, you are incorrect about cayenne being useful for nothing other than culinary adventures. I do not have a medical degree and I’m not going to site sources but I use cayenne to stop bleeding and it works within minutes. I’m sure there are no medical specialists who would suggest this use for cayenne. Out of curiosity I’ve tried other herbs and they do not stop the bleeding as quickly or effectively as cayenne powder. Also, I used to get strep throat once a year – chronically for years. One year it was very bad and I did the usual antibiotic treatment from a regular medical doctor. The day after I took my last pill, the strep throat returned so bad that my throat was almost completely constricted from the swelling and I could barely move from the wracking pain all over my body. I went to an alternative doctor who prescribed a gargle using 1 teaspoon salt, a half teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, juice of one lemon and 4 oz HOT water and the swelling and unbearable sore throat was gone within three days and the strep was gone in a week. I use this when I even get an inkling of a sore throat (which is rare) and I have never gotten strep since and that was about 20 years ago. I could go on and on listing “miraculous” experiences using herbs to heal myself, my children and even a cat with a horribly abscessed leg (comfrey poultice completely eliminated the swelling and cleaned up the infection overnight and by morning his leg was as good as new and he could walk without limping), onion for a chronic ear ache, Tamandu oil for an extreme skin rash that I had for almost a year and would not go away or stop itching, etc etc etc. I have found herbs – including cayenne – to be much more useful and effective in treating my, and my children’s (both in their 20’s now) illnesses for over twenty years. Most medications and drugs are derived from herbs and plants, patented so that the pharmaceutical and medical industries can get their piece of the pie. I prefer to go straight to Mother Nature and get these things from the source and so far, they have worked better than the medical industry for me. I can list several very bad experiences with the traditional medical industry, that I have had throughout my life, and which ultimately motivated me to seek alternative healing and at this point, I – and a growing number of people in this country – are finding healing – REAL healing, not just “band-aids” for symptoms – in herbs and other alternative therapies. I’m not saying the medical industry doesn’t have amazing things to offer, but herbs have worked for me for years so I’ll stick with them.

    3. Bridget Aber

      Anita – I have HCM and have experienced first hand the effect of Cayenne tincture on tachycardia and arrythmia! Many times when my heart beat has been crazily high, I have taken the cayenne tincture in water. It normally works within 10 to 15 mins and is quite amazing, bringing my pulse rate back to normal. It’s very reassuring. I also take Hawthorn on a daily basis, and it has massively improved my heat health and physical capabilities. Don’t knock these ancient herbs – they have been tried and tested for hundreds of years and most don’t have the awful side effects of expensive modern drugs!

  7. HospitalsAreDeadly

    you guys can’t really be dumb enough to believe that God or Nature wouldn’t create an herb to cure a heart attack? One of the obvious killers now a days? God saw the future and knew heart attacks would be a problem. He put an herb out there for every condition, either an herb or a food to cure it.

    Also if you eat natural foods all the time and always eat healthy, I doubt you’d ever get an attack to begin with. But our diets are loaded with deadly chemicals, thanks to the same guys who make the deadly drugs. And you people want to trust your lives with these freaks who could care less about you? All they want is your money….oh yeah and they want population control too….so they are making the drugs deadly on purpose. They could of formulated safer drugs, but then they’d have way too many people on the planet.

    If you want to stay alive….DONT GO TO THE HOSPITAL. FIND OUT WHAT YOU NEED TO CURE YOUR DISEASE ON yOUR OWN. I cured my cancer with apricot seeds…and I am NOT lying. I don’t sell them why i would make this up? Obviously I wouldn’t make something like that up for no reason. But ask yourselves why would the hospital make up their lies? TO GET YOUR MONEY! They charge a LOT OF $$$$ for their deadly treatments!! I know for a fact I would not be alive right now if I had went to the hospital for my cancer. They would of KILLED ME with their deadly chemo treatment…..and all I needed was some cheap and natural seeds!! Oh and to further prove my point….These DRUG PUSHERS (FDA) BANNED these seeds!!! Even the BIBLE says to eat the seeds!! They are very good for you, they are not toxic. I eat tons of them each day. They do kill cancer cells, I watched my skin cancer literally fall off my body within just 2 days of starting treatment.


  8. Robert

    Why then there are not desfibrillators all over and everywhere for anyone to use freely at any time for free ? Too many lifes would be saved and too few organ transplants to be carried out deactivating and decreasing the health economi activity ? not good for the country ?

      1. Bridget Aber

        Skepdick – That is just not true. I have lived in UK, Europe and Asia, and defibrillators (note correct spelling) are around, but not ‘all over the place’ Their numbers are growing but only very slowly! Most people do NOT have access to them!
        Please don’t be so dismissive about natural cures. Western medicine and modern drugs have their place, but it is wise to try to do things naturally. Too many people unquestioningly take loads of meds. without any idea of the side effects and long term effects. For example, the BMJ has just published an article on reversal of diabetes. stating that most doctors don’t even know that it is reversible!!!

  9. Rewild Thyself

    Good article. All in all, I would rather have some cayenne pepper closeby, rather than not have it around. Just in case. Better than nothing, and it couldn’t hurt, right?!? Personally, I take ghost pepper powder shots, chased with spring water daily, (for health purposes). And believe me, you know you’re alive after that!

  10. jackie

    Hello, all the comments are really interesting and I would like to tell you about my experience with Cayenne . I have passed out off and on for 40 years, had lots of test but nothing could be found wrong, last year I had a tilt test and was told I had pots syndrome, I had never heard of it but the consultant said sometimes when I stood up suddenly my heart would beat really fast and then blood would pool in my legs, he put me on a small dose of heart medication just to slow the heart. I’ve been on it for about 9 months and felt ok but still had a few turns feeling lightheaded and a couple of days when i couldnt stsnd up and had to lay down. I read about cayenne pepper a week ago and I’m the sort if person who thought herbs and flowers don’t really work. I’ve started to take 50.000 Cayenne three times a day just a quarter of a teaspoon each time in warm water. I was so supriswd how i felt just after one its weird to describe I just felt well. Ii went to see my heart consultant this week and told him about it but he had not heard of Cayenne powder and looked at me as if I was nuts anyway I had my ECG he asked how I felt and if I had felt faint latly and I said no and told him I had stopped taking my low dose medication for a week and he said don’t bother taking it anymore but come back if your symptoms get worse. I can only say how Cayenne has helped me , I still have a flutter of my heart now and then but I can actually get out if bed now without feeling as if I’m going to pass out. I really hope the effects last.

  11. Vernon

    Skepdick – You are a Cretin (now I suppose your scedickl radar is off the charts again so rush home and look up what that word means)

    1. skepdick Post author

      As it happens I do know what the word cretin means. A cretin is a person who has a congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones. If perhaps you meant to imply that my mental faculties were impaired in some way, you did a wonderful job of being injurious and show great maturity by attacking me and not my argument. If you disagreed with my article, produce some evidence supporting your case and present a proper argument.

  12. Corey Coombe

    Wow, what a poorly thought out article…. While you’re right Capsaicin doesn’t reduce platelets, like aspirin does. But what it does do is dilates the blood vessels.. It’s considered a potent over the counter vasodilator… Hospitals don’t use it because they have medicine that works even better and faster in dilating the blood vessels and veins.

    I’m not saying it will stop a heart attack, but the chemical in chili peppers do have a significant effect on blood vessels….. Put dried powdered chili peppers into a gel capsule. Take your blood pressure before swallowing. Swallow your pepper capsule with a large glass of water. Wait 15 minutes, take a blood pressure reading. Wait 15 minutes more, take another reading….. Your blood pressure will slowly reduce over time.

    1. skepdick Post author

      No Corey, you are wrong. Capsaicin may act topically but when swallowed has no effect on blood pressure. If you believe otherwise, feel free to post a legitimate study proving me wrong. Taking a chili powder gel capsule while checking my blood pressure is not very scientific.

      1. Mary Thornton


  13. Cliff

    Good review of this claim. I was quite skeptical as well, and your analysis is helpful. I didn’t find a lot of information backing the claim outside of Natural News-type sites. I also doubt the likelihood of capsaicin causing heart attacks, as the very few cases I’ve seen discussed involved high doses. The deaths were usually preceded by a histamine response (indicated by itching), which might mean it activated an allergic reaction at these doses. I think the lesson to learn there is that since capsaicin, like most spice compounds, is a plant defense mechanism, you shouldn’t overuse it. Enough nutmeg could kill you, too, but it’s pretty rare.

    I think what a lot of people are missing here is that you aren’t just saying *why* it doesn’t work, but talking through the critical thinking process. It could come across as condescending if it’s done all the time, but most skeptical articles gloss over it. I think you effectively used a conversational style here, even if you don’t quite hold the tone in the informational sections.

    I do have to take you to task on one thing: defibrillators can’t restart a heart, either (or at least are highly unlikely to). Maybe you didn’t mean to say they can, but it reads that way due to the preceding sentence. Defibrillators can only correct tachycardia or fibrillation (hence the name “defibrillator). The only way to correct a stopped heart (asystole) is with CPR, and the odds of that working are lower than most people think, even when combined with an epinephrine injection. “Cardiac arrest” includes all these conditions; it refers to blood-flow stopping, not the heart. So it is fair to say defibrillators are your best chance to survive cardiac arrest.

  14. Erin

    I wholeheartedly disagree with this article! One hour ago, my BP was 215/105 and I nearly didn’t make it to the kitchen due to palpitations, nausea and dizziness. A tablespoon of regular store bought Badia brand cayenne in water pulled me out of it in less than 5 minutes. My BP has returned to normal and I feel fine with no palpitations at all. In fact, I’m finishing the laundry instead of laying in a freezing hospital room waiting to see a doctor. Cayenne pepper DOES work and it works fast.

      1. Ultron

        Skepdickhead. Your a abomination scum (worse than cancer) like all ignorant, illogical doctors and the whole lot of you should be kept alive as long as possible and tortured as bad as possible. Anyone who has a bit of logic and has been to a doctor would agree with me!

  15. Fellow Skeptic

    Skepdick thanks for your article. I am on a personal mission against homeopath, alternative medicine, herbalism, superstition, and pseudoscience in general. I was a follower of alternative medicine for years as was many family members and friends. I lost my best friend recently due to alternative medicine. He had a treatable condition that a doctor and traditional medicine would have easily handled. He didn’t believe in doctors or medicine. He always treated himself with diet, and natural remedies. Everyday I feel so guilty. I have started doing objective evidence based research. And I share it with as many as possible. I didn’t warn him at least I can warn others. It is really sad that the multi billion dollar supplement industry is taking advantage of so many. There is so much incorrect negative misinformation about FDA, and “big Pharma” and other false conspiracy theories. So many are unaware of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Act – which protects the industry not consumers. Most supplements don’t even have the ingredients listed on the label. Many herbal supplements have been found to contain no herbs but only saw dust, walnut or wheat. Chinese supplements are the worse they often have Viagra even if it is a non sexual health supplement. The medical community has researched vitamin supplements for decades and there is no conclusive evidence that they are helpful at all. Despite popular belief Vitamin C does not cure the common cold. I can go on and on about all this all day. I just want to plead to people – be careful. Understand the FDA, doctors, hospitals are not your enemy. There is nothing wrong with putting your trust in the best available scientific research available. There is no miracle cure all home remedy or diet. If herbs had any medicinal value, trust me pharmacutical companies would employ them too. In fact you should beware of all supplements, at best you are wasting your money at worse you are putting your life in danger. Lastly, don’t take my word or anyone’s word- do object research backed by science and data.

  16. Danny

    As some one said in a comment, in the moment of a heart attack anything is worth tryin to stay alive what can it hurt. To anwser a guestion some one said about is,so why dont all hospital have it. I truly believe the reason for that is, if we find a natural cue whats the use for doctors and medicine. They will say anything that would not get in the way of there money.The world is full with naturel cures. But people mind set is now change an focus on greed. Not saying all but some. Not to kill no ones else opinion that just how i feel!

    1. skepdick Post author

      The reason hospitals don’t use cayenne pepper has nothing to do with greed. It’s the same reason they don’t give you a tuna fish sandwich when you’re having a heart attack. Neither the tuna fish sandwich nor the cayenne will help.

      1. Sarka Stick

        Please provide the peer reviewed, double blind tested evidence that tuna fish sandwiches do not help during a heart attack.

        Just wanted to get a burn in there, without using cayenne pepper.

  17. Lincoln B. Justice

    Skepdick, you have started a hot discussion. Are you a paid agent of the sickness maintenance system launched by John D. Rockefeller when he financed the medical collages and the AMA to promote his patent medicine business? His foundation has successfully taken over the medical establishment world wide and has made it illegal for a doctor to prescribe any food as a medicine. Hippocrates suggested – “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

    Cayenne pepper put under the tongue immediately triggers a response without waiting for it to be absorbed in the stomach.

  18. Warren Eggleton

    The reason doctors and hospitals don’t use Cayenne Pepper is because they don’t know about it. Todays medical fraternity are sales persons for pharmaceutical companies, who can’t make any money out of Cayenne Pepper.

    I have been suffering from heart failure and was having quite a few angina attacks and have had some trips to hospital because of these attacks.

    I developed a taste for tomato juice and Tabasco and made it my nightly drink as I have stopped drinking wine. What happened one night was that I had been quite unwell throughout the day and I was being treated with Nitro patches, which had to this point in time been keeping the Angina attacks under control to some degree, but not this day.

    I sat down and had my tomato and Tabasco drink and ½ an hour later I was ok, on reflection I realised that I had a few days where I was not well but was ok in the night. The thought came to be that maybe it was the Tabasco that was making the change. Well it was. I got onto the www. And found indeed cayenne pepper was a treatment for angina.
    A month has come and gone and I have not had one angina attack.
    I now have a tomato-cayenne pepper drink morning and night.
    I recently had to go to a specialist for an examination for a prostate problem, he asked me what medications I was taking for my heart condition, when I told him none but rather I was taking cayenne pepper and told him about the results of taking it he said “good keep on with it”. He was Chinese by the way, so I guess because of his background he knew about it.

  19. whocares

    I’m extremely open-minded and I hate to be ugly, so I’m gonna try really hard to express my view here without judgment or name calling. Cayenne is a plant. That is why it hasn’t been properly studied. It isn’t profitable. However, having herbalists in my family and circle of friends, I know that there are treatments, always, and often cures to be found by holistic means. So, that’s where I lost complete respect for this article…some b.s. about if it worked hospitals and drs would be using it. There have been several natural cures for and preventatives for cancer, but you will never see hospital oncologists writing prescriptions for kale, sour sop, cbd…so, using what “our” medical system would or would not do as the basis for supportive arguments is about as effective as cutting of your tongue to avoid talking with your mouthful. I believe that’s, at least, partially to blame for this article being described as weak. It makes me think you believe city water is fluoridated so that we can all have strong teeth. (I couldn’t even type that without crossing my eyes and scratching my pineal gland.)

    1. skepdick Post author

      Technically, water is fluoridated to reduce tooth decay. As for why cayenne hasn’t been studied in terms of heart attacks it’s because there is no mechanism by which it could work. It has nothing to do with profitability. By your logic, if it worked then there would be money to be made and then companies would sell it, right? Not sure that argument holds any water. One of the biggest problems with using “home” remedies, besides the fact that they rarely work as advertised, is that many herbal treatments contain actual drugs that do actual things to body chemistry. But the doses in these herbs is highly variable and can range from nothing (homeopathy) to high dose (many supplements). And it is sad to think that people like yourself believe doctors go through 8+ years of training and hell just to make a buck. Do you really believe that doctors don’t want to help or cure their patients? That they care so little about people and care so much about money that they would ignore any “cures for and preventatives for cancer”? I think you are extremely out of touch with how the medical field operates and even more out of touch with how science works.

  20. Dawner

    WARNING…cayenne is so so so powerful please always use in moderation and cycles plus never take without eating due to effects on blood sugar.
    Empaths should also beware.

    “f you have to ask you will never know” – Louis Armstrong

  21. Bodi

    I’m a big fan of science. I love Carl Sagan. Delight at pointing out logical fallacies. Cut my teeth on the Method. Still, isn’t it strange that the human race managed to survive…nay, thrive, for millions of years without it? Just on the “go eat this. Its good” method?

  22. Melanie

    Liquid cayenne pepper acts like nitroglycerin, it’s a vasoconstrictor! So, yes, it can stop a heart attack or at least but you some time until paramedics get a hold of you! Get your facts right dude!

    1. skepdick Post author

      It doesn’t work if you swallow it, the vasodilating properties are only topical and local. So if you rub some cayenne on your skin, you might see a little bit of vasodilation right there, but this doesn’t affect the entire body. If you have evidence to contradict this, please let me know. Thanks!

  23. Joseph
    Capsaicin, the phytochemical responsible for the spiciness of peppers, has the potential to modulate metabolism via activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptors, which are found not only on nociceptive sensory neurons, but also in a range of other tissues. TRPV1 activation induces calcium influx, and in certain tissues this is associated with increased activation or expression of key proteins such as endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), KLF2, PPARdelta, PPARgamma, and LXR?. The calcium influx triggered by TRPV1 activation in endothelial cells mimics the impact of shear stress in this regard, activating and increasing the expression of eNOS—but also increasing expression of cox-2, thrombomodulin, and nrf2-responsive antioxidant enzymes, while decreasing expression of proinflammatory proteins. Hence, dietary capsaicin has favourably impacted endothelium-dependent vasodilation in rodents. TRPV1-mediated induction of LXR? in foam cells promotes cholesterol export, antagonising plaque formation. Capsaicin-mediated activation of TRPV1-expressing neurons in the gastrointestinal tract promotes sympathetically mediated stimulation of brown fat, raising metabolic rate. The increased expression of UCP2 induced by TRPV1 activation exerts a protective antioxidant effect on the liver in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and on vascular endothelium in the context of hyperglycaemia. In rodent studies, capsaicin-rich diets have shown favourable effects on atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver, cardiac hypertrophy, hypertension and stroke risk. Clinically, ingestion of capsaicin—or its less stable non-pungent analogue capsiate—has been shown to boost metabolic rate modestly. Topical application of capsaicin via patch was found to increase exercise time to ischaemic threshold in patients with angina. Further clinical studies with capsaicin administered in food, capsules, or via patch, are needed to establish protocols that are tolerable for most patients, and to evaluate the potential of capsaicin for promoting vascular and metabolic health.

  24. Ian Koviak

    Much of healing has to do with the placebo effect. Mind over matter. Believing in something despite there being any tangible proof that it works in any chemical way. Cayenne is like religion. It has some power/use. We don’t know why it works for some and not others, but one things for sure—it’s not going anywhere.

    You cannot always show how something works in every sense of the word as everybody reacts differently and there is a lot more going on than meets the eye in every instance of any disease. We can test and theorize about some aspects of things and we can control the variables of many others—but not all.

    The fact is, there are likely many folks who have warded off a heart attack aftermath by taking aspirin and cayenne. There is no question that cayenne is powerful stuff. If it has vasodilation effects on a localized area of the skin, logic and reason dictate that it will likely have a similar effect when spreading through your blood stream via digestion and contact with sensitive membranes in your mouth and gut. it’s just a theory, but based on observation of a known effect the substance has.

    I’ve taken cayenne on the onset of heartburn or heart attack-like symptoms as I have suffered from panic attacks and anxiety attacks much of my adult life and I have to say it works pretty instantly in lowering blood pressure, relaxing the body and creating systemic heat and a sense of opening up the vessels and making the heart pump nice and steady. It’s a great natural energy drink before a workout as well. You can overdo it and it’s not for everyone. But if you tolerate it well, it’s a viable option that anecdotally has worked for millions of people on many forums and likely millions of more well before aspirin was invented. And these are not people trying to sell cayenne powder to you, trust me.

    This is no way negates modern science and the healing power of pharmaceuticals for those who respond well to such drugs. Everyone is different. One person can take a statin for many years and live a healthy life—others will have many awful symptoms. Just because rigorous study of herbal compounds is not on the forefront of the medical establishment does not negate thousands of years of successful use of any number of plants for a plethora of conditions.

    All that aside, I appreciate sites like this. There is so many BS sites out there claiming to have a cure for this or that. The only thing positive I can say for such sites is that they offer people hope and a sense of a possibility that they may traverse an illness—and that sort of positive thinking is 100% shown to have a dramatic effect on healing (it’s why they have comedians go to old folks homes and clowns go to cancer wards and why bedside manner of docs and nurses is highly praised).

    We often hear people praying for someone who is ill or suffering in some way. Sure, prayer in and of itself, if tested and documented in some systematic way, is likely not very tangible as being of benefit to the diseased. In fact we can pretty adamantly state that it has no power at all. But the power it does have or any belief in something helpful has, is that which we cannot see and works on a complex level that we are just starting to understand a little more. But again, we cannot understand and test and prove everything as we cannot control every variable. I have faith the sun will rise everyday, but no one can guarantee that it will. We cannot perceive distant galactic affairs that can obliterate us in a one millisecond. We don’t have the ability to test such variables. So at some point we have to just trust and have faith that it will all workout—one way or the other. And yes, if it’s unlike anything you have ever felt, call 911, pop some asprin, lay down and “pray”. And if you have some cayenne handy—make yourself a parting cocktail of mother natures finest.


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