Grow Your Own Survival Medicine: Cayenne Pepper
By Brendan Riordan
Prescription meds and over-the-counter medications may or may not be available in a given economic collapse, but you can always grow your own medicinal herbs or even source them in the wild. If you could only have one medicinal herb in your survival bag it should be cayenne pepper.
It’s an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and a sterilizer. It’ll warm you up, boost your metabolism, and energize you all at once. Cayenne pepper adds spicy heat to improve the flavor of all foods. It’s even beneficial, not harmful, for your digestive tract.
The active ingredient, capsaicin, is what’s responsible for all the benefits. Lately, even the medical world is giving credit to capsaicin. A product called “Sinus Buster” is a popular over-the-counter sinus medication that is capsaicin based. As an aside, Sinus Buster even claims to chase away headaches.
But you don’t need to buy Sinus Buster to chase away headaches or clear your sinuses. Grow your own cayenne peppers and make your own medicine!
Editor’s Note: Be aware that cayenne pepper taken orally is a blood thinner. It can irritate the stomach and lower blood pressure. To learn even more about herbal remedies, check out Cat Ellis’s book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine.
Cayenne pepper will stop, or at least slow, bleeding.
Dr. Christopher, an old-time herbalist and founder of the School of Natural Healing out of Springfield, Utah, has testimony upon testimony on how cayenne pepper has stopped bleeding – from bloody noses to gunshot wounds. The way it works as a bleed stop is by equalizing blood pressure throughout your body, taking pressure from the wound and enabling it to clot.
I have found this to be true from experience. During a soccer game, our chief player encountered another boy’s head in a heated contest for the soccer ball at the goal. One boy (from the other team) went to the hospital for stitches to his eyelid and our player exited the field with a bloody, gushing head wound. Upon further inspection, our player Andrew’s head wound proved small, though it produced profuse expulsion of blood. The coach sidelined Andrew as a student nurse cleaned up his bloody head and applied a quick ice pack. The bleeding slowed down but continued a steady oozing discharge. My hopes for a win diminished the longer Andrew sat on the sidelines, our coach not allowing the bleeding player to re-enter the game.
After a while, my wife leaned into me and said, “Why don’t you apply what you have learned at the School of Natural Healing and stop the bleeding with cayenne?” Admittedly, I did not spring to action immediately, with thoughts of hurting Andrew – and even lawsuits. I did muster the courage to apply the old-time herbal cure for bleeding, but only after calling Andrews’s mother and getting permission.
First, I put a teaspoon of cayenne powder into Andrew’s 16 oz. water bottle and had him drink it down. Next, the scary part came. Holding the cayenne powder over Andrew’s oozing head wound, I proceeded to sprinkle the powder directly onto it, asking every step of the way, “Do you want me to continue? Does it hurt? “
To my surprise, he answered “Continue,” and “No, it does not hurt.” After applying about a half of a teaspoon of cayenne powder directly on to Andrew’s scalp wound, and after he drank the cayenne pepper solution, all bleeding stopped. The coach cleared Andrew to re-enter the game. I wish I would have acted sooner, as our team lost that day to our number one rival by a small margin. I did, however, gain confidence in using cayenne as a bleed stop and have used it a few more times for such.
You can read more testimonies on how cayenne pepper has stopped bleeding over the years from the School of Natural Healing here: Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Legacy: Bleeding
Here’s how to grow your own cayenne pepper.
You can purchase organic cayenne pepper in bulk, but it’s easy to grow your own.
Cayenne pepper is easy to grow, granted you have a long enough growing season. I use “Ring O Fire Cayenne Pepper” from High Mowing Seeds. The packet says 45 days to maturity from seed but it always takes longer for me.
I start my seeds indoors eight weeks before planting time in 72- cell trays planted ¼” deep, in a soilless medium. After thirty days, or whenever the pepper plants start showing roots at bottom of 72 cell tray, I pot them up into 4” pots. You can start the seeds in any suitable container that works for you. They’ll need a sunny window or a grow bench in a greenhouse and kept at 75-85 degrees during the day and no less than 65 degrees at night.
Now I live in upstate NY, not far from Canada, so I want husky plants in the ground to start with. You may have easier growing conditions. I plant mine ten inches apart in every direction, with three pepper plants across in the row, as I have found that they like crowding. My row will then be about 30 inches wide, and however long I have space for. Altogether, from seed to red pepper, it takes me about 90 days to produce a red hot crop of cayenne peppers.
Cayenne pepper is not all that picky about fertilizer or water, excepting when they first start. Too much fertilizer will actually bring on beautiful foliage without peppers. A once a week watering will suffice once started. Even rainwater is usually enough. Cutworms can wipe out your whole crop if peppers are still small when planted, so put a drinking straw or paper collar around the stem base at soil level when planting.
You can make your own herbal remedies with cayenne pepper.
As an anti-bacterial agent, cayenne pepper will last for many years in storage, making it a great survival medicine. I like to dry mine in an Excaliber dehydrator or in the sun, and use as needed in soups or sauces or wherever I want heat in my dish.
I also grind my own cayenne powder in a coffee grinder (set apart for just cayenne pepper.) Use extreme caution, wearing a mask and goggles. Cayenne powder and vapor burn, burn, burn! Better yet, grind them outside and wear a mask and goggles.
Using cayenne pepper
My favorite way to use cayenne pepper is as a tincture/extract.
After I harvest my organic cayenne peppers, I fill mason jars almost to top with fresh picked cayenne peppers and pour 100-proof Svedka vodka over them. Eight weeks in a dark place, and voila – a strong herbal medicine tincture is made. I strain the tincture into one-ounce medicine droppers to use until my next harvest. I have plenty for friends and family to go around.
My claim is that the hot cayenne keeps my family mainly free of illnesses, and feeling warm all winter. The wife and I take a dropper-full of my concoction three times a day in a glass of water.
Dosages: 1 tsp. cayenne powder in 8 oz. glass of water, or 1 dropper-full of tincture in 8 oz. glass of water.
Pepper Spray: Another usage for cayenne pepper is as a pepper spray. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m sure my cayenne pepper tincture would be useful as a homemade self-defense pepper spray.
Cayenne pepper is an easy to grow, versatile herbal medicine that should be in every prepper’s survival bag.
*Different people have different experiences when cayenne is put into their open wounds, some say it hurts, and others say no.
Disclaimer – This article is for educational purposes only. Herbs are not approved by the FDA to treat or cure. Herbalists in the U.S. are not allowed to diagnose, treat, or cure. See your healthcare professional for such.