Also known as Capsicum annum, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum spp, Sweet Pepper, Cayenne, African Pepper, Hot Pepper, Bird pepper, Tabasco pepper, and Louisiana long pepper.
Introduction Chili is the Aztec name for Capsicum annuum. It has been used both as a food and a medicine by Native Americans for over 9000 years. The Capsicum family includes bell peppers, red peppers, paprika, and pimento, but the most famous medicinal members of the family are cayenne and chile. The tasty hot peppers have long been used in many of the world's cuisines, but their greatest use in health comes from, surprisingly, conventional medicine. Chilies are also used as a synergistic ingredient in various tonics, laxatives, sedatives, and hay fever remedies.
Constituents 1,8-cineole, 2-octanone, alanine, alpha-carotene, alpha-linoleic acid, alpha-phellandrene, arginine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, betaine, campesterol, capsaicin, capsanthin, carvone, fiber, folacin, glutamic acid, hesperidin, isoleucine, isovaleric acid, kaempferol, manganese, myrcene, p-coumaric acid, potassium, proline, quercetin, scopoletin, solanine, thiamin, thujone, tryptophan, valine, zeaxanthin, zinc.
Parts Used The fruit, fresh or dried, chopped or powdered.
Typical Preparations Widely used in cooking. Most often compounded as a cream for external use, rarely brewed into a tea for internal use.
Summary The burning sensation of hot peppers is a reaction of the central nervous system to capsaicin; unlike horseradish, wasabi, garlic, ginger, and mustard, capsaicin only causes the sensation of damage, not real damage to tissues. This sensation of pain, however, depletes a chemical called substance P, and when substance P is used up, the ongoing tissue damage of arthritis, shingles, cluster headaches, fibromyalgia, or lower back injury does not result in pain. Eating hot peppers can also deplete pain chemicals in the stomach. Peppers do not actually cause heartburn or ulcers. They merely cause the sensation of pain, depleting substance P, so other conditions cannot cause pain. Eating foods seasoned with cayenne or chile may even protect the stomach against damage by aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAID pain relief medications. Capsaicin creams can also reduce itching in psoriasis.
Precautions Pepper in any of its forms may be a irritant to the mucous membranes, and caution should be exercised when handling. Don't touch your eyes with your hands after you have handled capsaicin in any form as painful burning may occur. Excessive use internally may result in gastro-intestinal upset.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This information courtesy of MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS, with full, written permission for reuse. For further traditional information concerning Cayenne, please visit this excellent resource from Botanical.com. Used with full, written permission.