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Can cayenne pepper stop a heart attack?

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Updated: September 30, 2013 6:02AM

Hot, spicy, lifesaving?

The late Dr. John R. Christopher, a renowned herbalist, was one of the first to say that cayenne pepper could save a person’s life when a heart attack was occurring. According to Christopher, cayenne pepper tea ingested during an attack could prevent heart damage.

Others concur, including licensed acupuncturist Rebecca Sasak of Thrive Acupunture in Northwest Indiana: “Capsaicin, the active component in the chile pepper, is widely known to stimulate warm circulation of blood, which many use medicinally to prevent onset of a heart attack.”

“It is understood a diet rich in fresh chile peppers or supplemented with a specifically designed pepper extract can be beneficial for heart and artery renewal,” added Sasak, who holds a master’s degree in traditional Oriental medicine. However, she pointed out, “just simply using pepper powder will not have strong enough action.”

Conventional science stands cautious on spicy solutions. “Though we should not rush to be dismissive because these therapies are beyond mainstream medicine, we should remain circumspect about any therapy, nutritional supplement or medical therapy until there is a sufficient body of evidence that confirms benefit,” said Dr. Clyde Yancy, Northwestern Medicine chief of cardiology. — Chad Hunter

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