June 3, 2015

Making a Cayenne Tincture

Have you heard about the amazing health benefits of cayenne?

Cayenne is a simple cooking spice to most people, but it's a powerful healing herb. Cayenne is a stimulant that increases the pulse and carries blood to the extremities. It's a "powerful perk-er-upper".

Last year I grew my own cayenne peppers. Only one of my four plants survived, but it bore a good crop which I harvested, dehydrated and powdered. I didn't get cayenne plants into the ground this year, but it is something that I will grow in years to come. How could I be without such a useful and important herb?

As well as using my own cayenne in the kitchen, I've also used it medicinally - not on humans yet, but on my goats. (The humans will get it when needed, so look out!)

In preparation for kidding season this year, I'd made a cayenne tincture in apple cider vinegar. My plan was to use this as a navel dip instead of iodine. I read that instead of burning the tissue to dry it like iodine does, the cayenne dries and shrinks the navel tissue in a gentle way, at the same time nourishing and stimulating the newborn kid.

I put some of the tincture in prescription bottles to use on the newborns. I've found this to be the simplest and easiest way to dip navels, whatever liquid you choose to use. Fill the bottle about half full with your tincture or iodine. Stand behind the kid and put one arm under the kid's front legs, holding his or her front legs just off the ground. Using your other hand, hold the bottle and dip the kid's umbilical cord into it. Press the top of the bottle against the baby's belly and gently shake it to distribute the liquid, including onto the belly area around the navel. I use one prescription bottle per kid to prevent the spread of germs from one kid to another, discarding the contents after one use.

In the past I've often had a lethargic kid, perhaps more than one. This year I had only one that I worried about, a little doe kid. She wasn't as alert as a newborn kid should be. I'd read about using cayenne in this situation, so I gave it a try: I put a couple of drops of cayenne tincture on her tongue. (If you don't have a tincture, you can put a tiny pinch of powdered cayenne in the kid's mouth instead.) You can repeat the dose if needed after about 15 minutes.

Within minutes she was up and alert, standing and attempting to walk just as well as the other kids. Seriously, it only took a few minutes. How amazing! It had warmed her little body all the way to her tiny hooves, increased her circulation, and gave her the zip she needed. For this reason alone, cayenne is worth a place in my kidding supplies.


My Native American friends say that it's best to start a tincture of any kind during a new moon, and let it work for two weeks until the full moon - but it's even better to leave it for four weeks until the next new moon.

Here's how to make a cayenne tincture in vinegar:

1/4 cup of cayenne pepper powder
1 cup Bragg's apple cider vinegar, or your own homemade raw, unfiltered vinegar

If you don't want to make this much, you can use the "parts formula" to make a smaller (or larger) amount: use one part of cayenne pepper powder and 4 parts vinegar. You can read more about measuring in parts in this previous post.

Combine the two ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting plastic lid and mix well. (The vinegar will react with a metal lid.) Shake the jar several times a day for at least two weeks.

When it's finished, filter through a thin cotton cloth or an unbleached coffee filter. Normally we would squeeze the filter to get all liquid out of the herbs, but in this case I don't. The cayenne powder I used is so fine it isn't all caught by the filter, so I just let it drip-drain.

Keep the liquid tincture and discard the powder that's left.

Be sure to label the jar with the name of the herb and the liquid you've used. A tincture made with apple cider vinegar is much different than one made with alcohol. Don't trust your memory.

Have you ever used cayenne as a healing herb? Have you grown your own?

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor nor a veterinarian.
You are responsible for your own health and for that of your animals.
Please do your own research before using any products, plants, herbs, and essential oils.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. I have made pear-apple vinegar and apple vinegar last fall. I'm going to try this one.Now to find the peppers!

  2. Fantastic and so good to know! We have never experienced a kidding season, but we really hope to next spring. Do you know the shelf life of this tincture? I've read that 6 months is about it for tinctures made with ACV or glycerine, but what is your experience?

    Thank you so much for your goat posts, I'm learning a lot by reading them!

    Kristi@Stone Family Farmstead

  3. I have made cayenne tincture... I think I used apple cider vinegar once, but have used grain alcohol more.... We used this to massage on my husband's knee... he had a bad meniscus tear that the doctor said needed surgery. We used the cayenne tincture and many other things... gelatin, shark cartilage, tumeric, etc... He recently ran a 5K race... with NO surgery. I love the natural remedies.

    I have heard good things about it also for heart issues... and other things. This is a tincture I plan to keep on hand.

  4. Robin, I've made apple, plum and pineapple vinegars. I could make blackberry too but they are too precious to use in vinegar!

  5. Kristi, yes, about six months, maybe a year, is what I'm told the shelf life is for vinegar and glycerin tinctures. I usually use alcohol instead for the same reason, but the vinegar tincture was recommended to me for goat kids. I started a "batch" a month before their kidding dates so that it was ready when I needed it. It worked well.

  6. Joy, that is wonderful to hear about your husband's knee! Amazing, and what a testament to natural healing!

    Yes, cayenne is good for the heart too. It would take a whole series of posts to cover its uses. ;-)

  7. This is interesting....I have not heard about this for goat kids. I will try to remember to make some before the next kidding season. Thank you for sharing.

  8. You're welcome, Marilyn.

  9. Fascinating and educational, Kathi. Thank you for the info.

  10. Thank you, Mary. I hope you found it helpful.

  11. Wow. The cayenne tincture looks SO red and potent. I'm sure it is.

    I am interested in making my own tinctures. I never realized they were so easy to make! Thanks for sharing.


  12. I've never made a tincture before, thanks for the great tutorial!! Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop, hope you'll stop by again this week.

  13. You're welcome, Nicole. I'm glad it was helpful.

  14. I have never heard of this before, and I raise cayenne peppers every summer! After the peppers are ripe, I pull the entire plant out of the ground and hang it upside down in the kitchen. They dry quickly, then I break the peppers off and store them in a huge jar. Finding another use for them besides cooking, is so interesting! No kidding. ;-)

  15. Fascinating! I will have to pay attention to how I feel the next time I add cayenne to my tex-mex!

  16. Welcome, Cranberry Morning! (Love your name.)

  17. Daisy, I can feel it spreading through my body from the belly outwards! And, whew, it sure opens the sinuses!


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