Supplements and Herbs

Chili pepper, capsicum, capsaicin, and cayenne pepper


Copyright © 2004 & 2018 Healing Cancer Naturally, partly adapted from Encyclopaedia Britannica

Chili Pepper

is the fruit of a great number of plants from the genus Capsicum, itself of the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

The genus Capsicum comprises many varied forms of fleshy-fruited peppers grown as herbaceous annuals--the red, green, and yellow peppers rich in vitamins A and C. Domesticated species such as Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens, and Capsicum baccatum are extensively cultivated throughout tropical Asia and equatorial America for their pungent fruits and used in seasoning, as relishes, pickled, and as a vegetable.

Cayenne pepper, said to have originated in Cayenne in French Guiana, is one of the spices derived from the Capsicum annuum species. Very pungent, cayenne pepper is produced in many parts of the world by drying and grinding these fruits into a fine powder.

Hot peppers derive their pungency from the compound

Capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide). Capsaicin is an alkaloid found in plants of the genus Capsicum and the "active" (hot) component of chili peppers. Characterized by acrid vapours and burning taste, this substance is located in the internal partitions of the fruit.

First isolated in 1876, capsaicin stimulates gastric secretions and, if used in excess, causes inflammation. In addition to the cherry (Cerasiforme group) and red cluster (Fasciculatum), these hot varieties, which are red when mature, include the tabasco (Conoides), which is commonly ground and mixed with vinegar to produce a hot sauce, and the long "hot" chili and cayenne (Longum), often simply referred to as capsicums.

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