Ask The Pharmacist: Cayenne stopped my bleeding in 30 seconds

Suzy Cohen

You read all kinds of things on Dr. Google, eh? For sure I do while I’m researching what I’m going to write for you each week. I read some interesting articles last year which I made a mental note of. One was about cayenne pepper and how it could stop bleeding. I stored this fascinating detail in the back of my mind, should I ever cut myself again in the kitchen … which tends to happen more frequently than I care to admit.

The bright red, moderately spicy cayenne pepper is most commonly seen in its dried and powdered form. Cayenne might take its name from an indigenous Brazilian word for "pepper," but many researchers believe it was named for the trade in these chiles along the Cayenne River in French Guiana.

It came to pass one night when I was in a hurry again. I cut myself on an onion. The month before it was from cutting bread with a serrated knife that slipped. As a writer, you’d think I’d wear gloves or slow down! I did my usual things: 

  • Held my arm above my head 
  • Put an ice cube on it
  • Took a Tylenol to dull the aftermath pain
  • Squeezed my finger
  • Wrapped it in a cold, wet towel
  • Ran around the house yelling, “I’m bleeding!”
  • Prayed
  • Found Sam and whined that I was in a hurry again
  • Promised myself I would slow down in the kitchen
  • Swore like a trucker

Nothing worked this time, the bleeding was pretty ugly. But then I remembered the cayenne pepper stories that I read on Dr. Google (lol!) and found a bottle of cayenne liquid extract in my supplement cabinet. It’s sold with a dropper. I drew up a dropperful of this, closed my eyes and waited for the burn, then squeezed it onto my bleeding finger. Nothing happened. I tried again. It was an epic fail.

Then I thought of using the actual cayenne pepper and rummaged around my spice cabinet to find my cayenne pepper (powdered). Mind you, I’m doing this all left-handed because my husband Sam was too freaked out and more in favor of driving me to an urgent care center. But I’m a little doctor-phobic, so instead, I dumped a generous amount of cayenne pepper onto a paper towel. 

Here’s where I found my bravery SNP, because as this is happening, I’m noodling this thought, “who in their right mind would literally pour cayenne pepper onto a painful, oozing cut?” After 30 minutes of fussing with it, feeling like I have nothing to lose at this point, I went ahead and did the unthinkable. I dipped it!  

It stung, no lie. So for the first 15 seconds, I continued only with the last two bullets (see above). By second 30, the bleeding had almost completely stopped! I couldn’t believe it. Cayenne pepper has been studied for its medicinal actions on prostate or breast cancer, multiple myeloma, migraines, psoriasis, neuropathy and more.

I’ll share more details if you sign up for my free newsletter. Peppers are a nightshade so if you’re allergic to those, please avoid. In the meantime, you should start sprinkling cayenne pepper onto your eggs and avocado toast. Keep it in a safe place in case you need it for a minor finger cut. 

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit