The idea of rubbing chili peppers onto your skin may seem a little strange, but what if I told you that clinical trials have shown that 80% of arthritis sufferers see improvement in as little as two weeks? Capsaicin cream, or cream that contains the active ingredient in chili peppers, is a common treatment for arthritis and it’s surprisingly effective. Capsaicin works by depleting a neurotransmitter that sends pain signals to the brain, and without that transmitter your brain never gets the signal from painful chronic conditions like arthritis.
Capsaicin creams can be applied 4 times per day to keep pain away throughout your waking hours. The first few times you put it on there will be a mild burning sensation, but your skin should acclimate over time according to Web MD. Be careful not to apply it near mucous membranes, and always wear gloves so that any pepper residue on your hands doesn’t end up in your eyes or other sensitive places.
Applying the cream multiple times a day can get expensive if you’re using store bought creams that are $10 or more per ounce. Home made capsaicin cream is easy to make and effective, and allows you to adjust the strength of the cream to your own preferences.
Making a basic capsaicin cream for arthritis is the same as making any basic herbal salve. The herb is first infused into a neutral carrier oil, and then it’s thickened with an emulsifying wax such as beeswax to make it easier to apply. For a basic salve, use 1 cup of oil to 1/4 cup grated bees wax. When grating bees wax, it’s hard to be precise in measuring, so if possible weigh out the bees wax ahead of time and use about 1 ounce of wax to 8 ounces of oil.
Salves are a great place to use up left over bees wax from other projects, or even scraps dripped from bees wax candles.
Since a basic salve recipe only needs a small amount of wax, saving any candle drippings or scraping up hardened wax off your tools after making home made candles is a great way to repurpose wax and save a bit of money.
Basic Capsaicin Cream Recipe
- 8 Ounces Oil (*See Note)
- 1 Ounce Bees Wax, grated
- 3 Tablespoons Cayenne Powder
Tools: Heat proof bowl and pot to create a double boiler, spatula to stir and a jar for storage
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Place the oil, beeswax and cayenne powder into a heat proof glass or metal bowl. Place that bowl over a saucepan that contains about an inch of water to create a double boiler. The goal of a double boiler is to create a slow, gentle heat to melt the bees wax without cooking the mixture. Bring the water in the pot to a simmer on low, and the steam from the simmering water will melt the wax in the bowl above.
Once the wax is melted, stir the cream together with a spatula and scrape out into a jar. If you want to adjust the amount of beeswax for a firmer or softer cream, you can test the cream’s texture by dropping a drop of two onto a cold plate.
For a stronger cream, you can infuse the cayenne into the oil ahead of time for a day or two. If you want a whipped cream rather than a standard salve for application, place the double boiler bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes after melting, then whip. Repeat several times until the cream is cold and then spoon into jars.
I find with solid salves you use and waste less than when applying whipped creams, but this is a matter of personal preference. Feel free to adjust the amount of beeswax to adjust consistency. The amount of cayenne can also be adjusted up or down after trying out the cream to adjust strength. Be sure to use the cream for a week or so before adjusting up, but if it makes you feel more comfortable you can always start with less cayenne and adjust up.
*A note on carrier oils: Just about any neutral oil will work here. Since you’re going to use it topically, it’s best to choose an oil that will also be nourishing to your skin. Good choices include olive oil, almond oil, jojoba oil and grape seed oil. Of those choices, grape seed is the most economical. Coconut oil will also work, but will result in a much thicker cream because it’s a solid at room temperature. If using coconut oil, use slightly less bees wax. Stay away from mixed vegetable, soy or corn oils.
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Just curious, my arthritis problem is in my hands. Any suggestions on usage? Can it be applied, let it remain for a time, then wash hands, or will that negate the effect of the Capsaicin?
Thanks for the info!
Using it on your hands should be fine, but I’d be very careful what you touch until you know that you have a way to fully wash it off. With the beeswax in it, it’s designed to resist being washed off. Just cutting hot peppers in my kitchen I’ve managed to burn my eyes hours later, even after several hand washings. I’d suggest maybe try applying at night, and then put on gloves/mittens overnight. Wash your hands well in the morning, but still, of course, be very careful.
I have a great question and hope that you are able to answer it and that it works. WILL IT WORK WITH ME USING CBD OIL IN IT AS WELL? I MAKE IT SINCE I MAKE MY OWN CBD OIL AND IT IS CHEAP FOR ME I FIGURED THAT IT WILL ALSO INCREASE THE PAIN RELIEF AND WORK WITH THE CAPSAICIN, ALSO WOULD YOU ALSO RECOMMEND IT AS WELL AND WILL IT WORK AS WELL? I NORMALLY MAKE MY OIL at 1000-1500 mg per 30ml vile. What do you think will it have a greater effect and help much more now.
Please let me know how this works if you try it.
I add Cbd oil to my cayenne pain salve & it works wonders!
Can you use jalapeno powder instead of cayenne? I made my own jalapeno powder
Most Excellent Question on the CBD. I also added some CBD oil to my mixture. I work at a Retail company, and I got tendentious from yea work way to hard, with my left hand outta commission, I slathered it on 3 times last nite, went to work this morning, wow definite improvement.
Thanks for this portal, lots of most excellent stuff
Would love to know how you make CBD oil i buy it and its costly!!!
I agree! this is a great idea!!
Any thoughts on substituting soy wax for bees wax?
Yes, soy wax works just fine substituted for beeswax in body products. It’s a great vegan alternative. Soy wax generally has a lower melting point, about 125 degrees depending on the blend, rather than 145 for bees wax. The lower melting point may result in a softer finished product, so you’ll have to adjust to your needs.
There is a commercial brand of this on the market, I have tried it and it does work but the heat from the pepper intensifies to an uncomfortable degree the more you use it the worse it gets, with making your own you could control how much heat is in it, my only questions are 1. why do you have to grate the bees wax? wont chopping up as fine as possible work? 2. could you pre warm the oil and melt the wax ahead of time before combining them? 3 can any other wax be used if bees wax is not available? and 4. what oil is best to use?
1. Yes, you can just chop up the wax. It’ll take a lot longer to melt, but in a double boiler it’s a gentle heat, so that’s just fine.
2. Yes, you could melt the wax separately, but cleaning beeswax off of things is very hard to do. It cleans up a lot easier if it’s made in one bowl with the oil added in. If you do get beeswax spilled, the easiest way to clean it up is with warm oil.
3. Yes, you could use just about any other wax you’d be comfortable applying to your skin. Do a little research and make sure it’s cosmetic grade without additives.
4. I like olive oil or grapeseed because they’re both great for the skin, and not particularly expensive. Jojoba or almond oil are good choices too, but tend to be expensive. Avoid vegetable oil and corn oil as they are not great for your skin.
There are various numbers of heat units on the cayenne powder I get at my local natural food store. I think there is 35,000 up to 90,000. Do you recommend the lesser one or the higher one? Thanks
Hi Ashley. Can you comment on what the Capsaicin percentage of the final product is, based on the measurements in the article? Anything under 0.5% is supposed to be ineffective, but around 8% requires proper medical authorisation prior to application. I don’t want to do myself an injuryeither…
Medical authorization requirements are just government interference when it comes to herbal treatments. See a naturopath if you are nervous. Otherwise, this salve will not harm you unless you are allergic. If you can’t eat peppers, don’t you them topically either. To test if you made it to “hot”, apply a very small amount to the inside of your wrist. Redding of the skin is okay as long as it is not accompanied by a rash-like irritation. Capsaicin increases blood flow to the local area, which it what causes a linking of the skin with a mild warm in sensation. If it feels like a burn, it is too strong or was too heavily applied.
Great article. Easy to understand.
Which is the best mix to alleviate old broken jaw injury (50 years ago) with gum abscess pain? (Also headache pain as well)
I use cannabis tincture with clove oil for anything inside the mouth. But I bet this would be great for the jaw pain!
Could I just use ceyenne and the carrier oil and skip the beeswax?
Could I just use ceyenne and the carrier oil and skip the beeswax ?
Can I use shea butter instead of bees wax?
Can I use Capsaicin Essential Oil? And would it still be same 3 Tablespoons?
Does anyone if this recipe is stronger thant Capzasin Hp .1%? Thanks!
Can you use green chillies instead?
Can’t you just add hot pepper powder to hand, face or body cream?