Cayenne pepper, also known as capsicum or red pepper, is a moderately hot chili pepper used to flavor a variety of dishes. The peppers are usually dried and ground to make the powdered spice, although cayenne powder may be a blend of different types of peppers. In its fresh form or as a dried powder it is used on seafood, egg dishes, meats, stews, casseroles, cheese dishes, hot sauces and curries.
First introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus as Guinea Pepper, cayenne pepper was originally used by Native Americans south of the Mexican border as early as 700 B.C. Also used in Cajun cooking, cayenne pepper has now become a staple spice of various Asian cuisines. It is one of the components of Tabasco sauce and ginger ale, both known for their fiery kicks.
Cayenne pepper is employed as an herbal supplement and has been used for a variety of ailments including heartburn, delirium, tremors, gout, paralysis, flatulence, sore throat, hemorrhoids, nausea and tonsillitis. Health practitioners in the early 1800s first used cayenne pepper orally to treat tumors, toothaches, fevers and respiratory conditions.