Cayenne pepper is a natural herb that may help you lose weight. This red pepper may curb your appetite, speed up your metabolism, and help you burn calories.

Keep reading to learn more about the potential health benefits of cayenne pepper.

The main active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. Capsaicin is also found in other types of peppers. Researchers believe that capsaicin is a thermogenic chemical. A thermogenic chemical may help speed up your metabolism and decrease your appetite.

Fewer cravings

A 2014 study showed that people who consumed red pepper with every meal felt increased feelings of fullness and had fewer cravings. The study results suggest that adding capsaicin to your diet can suppress your appetite. This can lead to a decrease in caloric intake and an increase in weight loss.

The study was limited to only 15 subjects. More research is needed to confirm these findings.

Increased metabolism

An older study from 2003 found that women who ate fresh chili pepper raised their metabolic rate for up to 30 minutes after consuming it. Your metabolic rate affects the speed at which your body converts food and beverages into energy. When your metabolism is faster, your body is more likely to convert nutrients into energy instead of stored fat.

Learn more: 5 vitamins to boost your metabolism and promote weight loss »

A 2010 study demonstrated the potential of dihydrocapsiate to increase metabolic rates. Dihydrocapsiate is a capsinoid found in chili peppers. It’s similar to capsaicin. People who took a dihydrocapsiate supplement for one month raised their metabolic rates by about 50 calories.

More calories burned

In addition to increasing your metabolism, cayenne pepper is thought to help you burn calories because it’s spicy.

When you eat a spicy pepper, it causes your body’s temperature to rise. When your body’s temperature rises, your body goes into a cooldown mode. This causes your body to burn calories. A 2011 study found that people who don’t like spicy food had better weight loss results when they started taking cayenne capsules.

It’s thought that you can build up a tolerance to the effects of red pepper. As a result, your weight loss may decrease the longer you take supplements or eat spicy peppers.

Cayenne peppers may improve your overall health. A 2015 study found that cayenne pepper helped inhibit the growth of ulcers in rats.

Another study found that capsaicin has anti-inflammatory and gastroprotective properties. The researchers gave supplements to 198 healthy participants and 178 participants with gastrointestinal conditions. Both groups experienced gastrointestinal benefits from the supplements.

Studies in rats suggest that capsaicin may have positive vascular effects. As a result, it may be beneficial to people with diabetes or people who are obese. It may also help reduce risk for stroke and high blood pressure.

You can add cayenne pepper to your diet in a few ways. You can cook with the pepper, but this may be difficult to do each day. You can also buy powdered cayenne pepper and add it to your water, smoothie, or protein shake. About 28 grams of fresh chili pepper or 1 gram of dried chili pepper can be enough to provide benefits.

If you aren’t a fan of the taste of cayenne, try adding it to dishes that are already flavorful. Add small amounts to curries, stews, chili, or Mexican food. Or include capsaicin as a supplement in your diet. Take either 30-120 milligram capsules or 0.3-1 milliliter of liquid tincture one to three times per day.

You can also make an infusion using up to 1 teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper per cup of water. Take a 1 teaspoon dose of this mixture in a small amount of water a few times per day.

Both infusion and tincture could cause irritation to your eyes, nose, or throat. Always start with a small dose to see how your body reacts.

The Master Cleanse is a diet that lasts three to 10 days. While on the diet, you drink primarily a mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water.

This diet is said to detoxify your body. But there’s little scientific evidence to support the use of detox diets like the Master Cleanse. You may lose weight only to gain it back again. It’s neither safe nor sustainable as it doesn’t provide sufficient essential nutrients. Participants have complained of headaches, fatigue, and irritability.

Instead of drinking this mixture for days on end, consider swapping a large glass of it for a meal every so often.

Cayenne pepper in supplement form may not be safe for everyone. Don’t take cayenne pepper supplements if you:

  • are on medication that slows blood clotting
  • have a scheduled surgery
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • take theophylline (Theochron, Uniphyl)
  • take medication for high blood pressure

You should also avoid taking cayenne pepper in large doses or for extended periods of time. It also shouldn’t be given to children.

Cayenne pepper can cause irritation if it comes in contact with your skin. It may cause heartburn or stomach irritation, so start with a low dose to see how your body reacts.

Cayenne pepper may help kick-start weight loss. But healthy eating and exercise are your best tools for long-term, sustainable weight management.

Focus on eating a balanced diet that includes:

  • protein
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • plant fats

Also, find simple ways to add exercise to your daily routine. It’s easy to avoid exercise when you’re strapped for time. Doing a little bit is better than not exercising at all.

Here are some ways to add exercise to your daily routine:

  • Take the stairs when possible.
  • Park in the furthest parking spot or a few blocks from your destination.
  • Drop into a few yoga poses if you need to take a break from your work.
  • When you’re waiting for the shower to get hot or while brushing your teeth, do a few sets of squats.
  • Add variety to your exercise routine so you don’t get bored.
  • Give yourself plenty of choices each week, so if you miss a session you have another option.
  • Think about joining a few group classes to increase motivation, or sign up for a course that lasts a few months.
  • Aim for a mix of strength and cardio training.

Exercise burns extra calories, boosts your metabolism, and encourages efficient body systems. The lean muscle you’ll build from regular exercise will burn fat even while you’re inactive. The more you exercise, the better you’ll feel both physically and mentally.

Taking cayenne alone isn’t going to cause drastic weight loss. Make as many healthy choices in terms of eating as possible. You should also make sure that you drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is great for your overall health, and it helps to keep your body from becoming accustomed to the cayenne pepper.

Consider adding other herbs to your diet as well. Research indicates that red pepper along with green tea can reduce feelings of hunger and increase feelings of fullness.

These herbs may also be beneficial for weight loss or overall health:

Learn more: 7 super foods for good health »

When you add cayenne pepper to your diet for weight loss, the results will be subtle at first. Over time, you may see that adding the spicy pepper to your diet helps you reach your health goals. Using it along with a healthy, plant-based diet and exercise plan will yield better results.