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Capsicum Peppers

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Capsicumfrutescens L., Capsicum annuum L., or any of a large number of hybrids or varieties of the species, Family: Solanaceae

COMMON NAME(S):C. fruntescens: capsicum, cayenne pepper, red pepper,African chilies; C. annuum var, conoides: tabasco pepper, paprika, pimiento, Mexican chilies; C. annuum var. longum: Louisiana long pepper or hybridized to the Louisiana sport pepper.

Cayenne pepper is produced from the capsicum herb, which is a tender, variable annual with branched stems and simple oval, lance-shaped leaves. Bell-shaped, white to green flowers appear in spring and summer, and are followed by hollow fruits, which display differing colors when ripe.

History

Capsicum was first described in the mid-1400s by a physician accompanying Columbus to the West Indies. The name comes from the Latin capsa, meaning box, referring to the partially hollow, box-like fruit. Capsicum has been desired as a spice and cultivated in some form in almost every society. Peppers are among the most widely consumed spices in the world, with an average daily per capita consumption in some southeastern Asian countries approaching 5 g of red pepper (approximately 50 mg of capsaicin) Preparations of capsicum have been used as topical rubifacients and extracts have been ingested as a stomachic, carminative, and GI stimulant.

Botany :-

C. frutescens is a small spreading annual shrub that is indigenous to tropical America. It yields an oblong, pungent fruit, while Capsicum annum (the common green pepper) yields paprika. It was believed that all peppers derived from C. frutescens or C. annuum or their hybrids. It is now recognized that approximately 5 species and their hybrids contribute as sources of "peppers." Capsicum peppers should not be confused with the black and white pepper spices derived from the unripened fruit of Piper nigrum.

Uses of Capsicum Peppers

Many varieties are eaten as vegetables and spices. The component capsaicin is both an irritant and analgesic used in self-defense sprays and as pain treatment for postsurgical neuralgia and shingles.

Side Effects of Capsicum Peppers

Topical, mucosal, and gastrointestinal irritation are common.

Dosage

Creams containing 0.025-0.075 % capsaicin are generally used. There may be a burning sensation for the first several times the cream is applied, but this should gradually decrease with each use. The hands must be carefully and thoroughly washed after use, or gloves should be worn, to prevent the cream from accidentally reaching the eyes, nose, or mouth, which would cause a burning sensation. 

Do not apply the cream to areas of broken skin. 

A cayenne tincture can be used in the amount of 0.3 - 1 ml three times daily.

Infusion: Use 0.5 to 1 tsp. Pepper per cup of boiling water. Take warm, 1 tbsp. at a time.

Powder: For acute conditions. Take 3 to 10 grains, for chronic conditions 1 to 3 grains.

Toxicology
The most well-known adverse effect of peppers is an intolerable burning sensation that occurs following contact with moist mucous membranes. Thus, they are commonly used in many self-defense sprays. When sprayed into an attacker's eyes, it can cause immediate blindness and irritation for up to 30 minutes, with no permanent damage. If capsicum comes in contact with mucous membranes, it should be flushed with water. Anecdotal reports suggest that flushing the area with milk may be beneficial.

Topical irritation is common with use of commercial creams. One study in patients with postherpetic lesions was terminated early because about one­third of the patients experienced "unbearable" burning.

In rats, the acute oral LD-50 of "Pepper Sauce" brand red pepper sauce 241 ml/kg. After 90 days of diet supplementation with the sauce, no signs of toxicity were noted. Mild eye irritation was observed when instilled, but vinegar, an ingredient in the sauce, was shown to contribute to this effect.

The intense GI burning that often accompanies the ingestion of peppers may be reduced by removing the seeds from the pepper pods before ingestion or by ingesting bananas along with the peppers. One study found no difference in the healing rate of duodenal ulcers among patients who ingested 3 g of capsicum daily compared to untreated controls.

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