Chili (General) Profile
Also known as
Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum spp, Sweet
Pepper, Cayenne, Ancho Pepper, African Pepper, Hot Pepper, Bird pepper,
Tabasco pepper, and Louisiana long pepper.
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
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,
The fruit, fresh or dried, chopped or powdered.
Widely used in cooking. Most often compounded as a cream for external use, rarely brewed into a tea for internal use.
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.
Pepper in any of its form 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
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.