Gary L. Simmons  rev 04/16/10
Home  Marathon  Joke OT Weak  Web Building  Resumé  Lynx  Hobbies  Extra  Site Map Links Page Extra Go to next department

Chili Pepper Page | Chili Recipes | Chili Humor | Chili Facts | Chili Gardening | Gardener's Diary

Chili Pepper Facts

Crossed chilies

Here is a section devoted to the actual facts of chili pepper nutrition and herbal uses. Right now this is small because I haven't tried to save any of this information but I keep hearing from unenlightened people that chili peppers are harmful when in fact they really aren't. I have read tons of information on this and I wouldn't consume so much if I thought   it were harmful to me. As I come across articles clarifying the nutritional and health benefits of chili peppers, I will post them on this page. Feel free to send me any article you think would be appropriate and I will reproduce it here. Be sure to give me the author and the publication so that I may credit them.
Top of page

Weaponized Bhut Jolokias | Nagaland King Chilis | Stunting Growth of Fat Cells | Bhut Jolokia in India | New Mexico State University | Fossil Chilies | Scoville Units | Chilies Slow Cancer | Antibacterial Salsa | Heart Pain | Chili Bugs | Brief History | Pain Relief | Chemistry | Pepper Road Map | CRC Facts | Testing The Bite | Jethro Kloss

I've been waiting for this one. First we learn they are using it to keep elephants out of farmlands, so why not weaponize it for people? That's what I'd do, boil some up and load it into a SuperSoaker then make some home invader wish he had been shot instead. Then I'd shoot him, because I'm an agreeable person. This is from an article from the March 24, 2010 Press-Enterprise.

Hottest Chili Is Now New Weapon

The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world's hottest chili.

After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized "bhut jolokia" or "ghost chili" to make tear' gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world's spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India's northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

It has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.

"The chili grenade has" been found fit for use after trials in Indian defense laboratories, a fact confirmed by scientists at the Defense Research and Development Organization," Col. R. Kalia, a defense spokesman in the northeastern state of Assam, told The-Associated Press".

Top of page


I've been in contact for awhile with Y. Marinus Ngullie from the Department of Plant Pathology Medziphema, Nagaland India and he has sent me some great pictures of Naga King Chilies from the hills of Nagaland. He wanted you folks to see some of the pictures he has sent along to me from his website

Naga King Chilies From the Hills of Nagaland

Naga King Chili
OK, here is the first one showing a close up of a Naga King chili. The fruit body of this particular chili measures about 8 centimeters which comes out to about 3 1/4 inches. That's a nice big pepper in anybodies book!

I've grown a lot of Habañeros in my time and these chilies look a lot like Caribbean Red Habañeros or Red Savino Habañeros. Although I have some of those chilies pictured on the main page, they are not an exact representation of the typical chilies. I chose some nice plump shapely examples to display. Though they share the curvy shape displayed on the left, missing is the lanky appearance of some of these chilies as well as the very rough and bumpy looking texture of the Naga King chili... and of course the tongue torturing heat!

This is truly a unique looking chili!

Click on the photo for the full sized version of this picture which is much too large to fit in the format presented here.

Cluster of Naga King Chilies

To the right is a picture of a cluster of Naga King chilies. After growing many varieties of Habañeros for years I've never seen them grow in such dense clusters as these Naga Kings. This is very impressive and I can definitely see why this is called the high yield variety!

Marinus Ngullie - "According to my research data it is called the High Yielding variety because it yields more than 220 fruits per plant, whereas regular Naga chillies yield only 120 fruits per plant. The High Yielding variety is also resistant to many diseases."

Click on the photo for the full sized version of this picture which is much too large to fit in the format presented here.

Field of growing Naga King chilies

Above is a depiction of a field of Naga King chilies. Click on the photo above for the full sized version of this picture which is much too large to fit in the format presented here.

Would you like to visit the Nagaland website? Click this link .

Top of page


This is some pretty technical stuff here but I promised you facts and by damn I'm delivering you facts. Boiled down, this finding by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that there is enough capsaicin in Indian and Thai foods to stunt the growth of fat cells in your body.

Effects of Capsaicin on Induction of Apoptosis and Inhibition of Adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 Cells

Chin-Lin Hsu and Gow-Chin Yen

Department of Food Science and Biotechnology, National Chung Hsing University, 250 Kuokuang Road, Taichung 40227, Taiwan

Received for review October 11, 2006. Revised December 29, 2006. Accepted January 8, 2007. This research work was partially supported by the Department of Health, Taiwan, ROC, under Grant DOH95-TD-F-113-002.


Currently, at the beginning of the 21st century, obesity has become the leading metabolic disease in the world. It is a serious health problem in industrialized countries. Previous research has suggested that decreased preadipocyte differentiation and proliferation and decreased lipogenesis are mechanisms to reduce obesity. In the present study, the effects of capsaicin on the induction of apoptosis and inhibition of lipid accumulation in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and adipocytes were investigated. The results demonstrated that capsaicin decreased cell population growth of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes, assessed with the MTT assay. Flow cytometric analysis of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes exposed to capsaicin showed that apoptotic cells increased in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Treatment with capsaicin decreased the number of normal cells and increased the number of early apoptotic and late apoptotic cells in a dose-dependent manner. The treatment of cells with capsaicin caused the loss of mitochondria membrane potential (ΔΨm). The induction of apoptosis in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes by capsaicin was mediated through the activation of caspase-3, Bax, and Bak, and then through the cleavage of PARP and the down-regulation of Bcl-2. Moreover, capsaicin significantly decreased the amount of intracellular triglycerides and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPDH) activity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Capsaicin also inhibited the expression of PPAR, C/EBP, and leptin, but induced up-regulation of adiponectin at the protein level. These results demonstrate that capsaicin efficiently induces apoptosis and inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes and adipocytes.

Intrigued? You can read the whole thing here.

Top of page


As promised, I found out some more about the Bhut Jolokia and I've got it here for you. This story covers the Indian farmers growing this pepper in the locations where it originated. This monster hot chili is just that much closer to getting to your dinner table. Production has exploded and this is great news for the destitute local farmers suffering under a poor tea market, the former king crop of the area. By the way, check out the look on Digonta Saikia's face, in the color pic. That speaks VOLUMES for this chili. I can't wait to try this new chili!

Hot Like No Other

Record-breaking 'ghost chili' hits world market


Digonta Saikia and FriendCHANGPOOL, INDIA - The Farmer, a quiet man with an easy smile, has spent a lifetime eating a chili pepper With a strange name and a vicious bite. His mother stirred them into sauces. His wife puts them out for dinner; raw, blood-red. morsels of pain to be nibbled - carefully, very carefully - with whatever she's serving.

Around here, in the hills of northeastern India, it's called the "bhut jolokia" - the "ghost chili." Anyone who has tried it, they say, could end up an apparition.

"It is so hot you can't even imagine," said the farmer, Digonta Saikia, working in his fields in the midday sun, his face nearly invisible behind an enormous straw hat. "When you eat it, it's like dying."

Outsiders, he insisted, shouldn't even try it.

"If you eat one," he told a visitor, "you will not be able to leave this place."

The rest of the world, though, should prepare itself.

Because in this remote Indian region facing bloody insurgencies, widespread poverty and a major industry - tea farming - in deep decline, hope has come in the form of this thumb-sized chili pepper with frightening potency and a superlative rating: the spiciest chili in the world. A few months ago, Guinness World Records made it official.


If you think you've had a hotter chili pepper, you're wrong.

The smallest morsels can flavor a sauce so intensely it's barely edible. Eating a raw sliver causes watering eyes and a runny nose. An entire chili is an all-out assault on the senses, akin to swigging a cocktail of battery acid and glass shards.

For generations, though, it's been loved in India's northeast, eaten as a spice, a cure for stomach troubles and, seemingly paradoxically, a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

Now, though, with scientific proof that barreled the bhut jolokia into the record books it has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili's spiciness - northeast India is taking its chili to the outside world.

Exporters are eagerly courting the international community of rabid chili-lovers, a group that has traded stories for years about a mysterious, powerful Indian chili. Farmers are planting new fields of bhut jolokias; government officials are talking about development programs.

Chances are no one will get rich. But in a region where good news is a rarity, the world record status has meant a lot of pride - and a little more business.

"It has got tremendous potential," says Leena Saikia, the managing director of Frontal AgriTech, a food business in the northeastern state of Assam that has been in the forefront of bhut jolokia exports.

Last year, her company shipped out barely a ton of the chilis. This year, amid the surge in publicity, the goal is 10 tons to nearly a dozen countries.

"We're getting so many inquiries," says Saikia, whose name is common in Assam, and who is unrelated to the farmer. "We'll be giving employment to so many people."

For now, at least, transport issues and a tangle of government regulations mean most exports are of dried bhut jolokias and chili paste. But, Saikia added, the paste can be used for everything from hot sauces to tear gas.


Picking bhut jolokiasIndia's northeast is a place where most people are ethnically closer to China and Myanmar than the rest of India. It's a deeply troubled area, often neglected by the central government in New Delhi, where more than two dozen ethnic militant groups are fighting the Indian government and one another. Many areas remain largely off limits to foreigners and few days pass without at least one killing.

In Assam, the wealthiest of the region's states, the long dominant tea industry is facing falling prices and rising costs, and one-third of the population· lives below the poverty line.

"Maybe this bhut jolokia can help change things here," says Ranjana Bhuyan, a high school teacher shopping for vegetables in the Assamese town of Jorhat on a recent evening.

Like most people here, she normally mixes bhut jolokias into sauces, or pickles them as a sort of spicy relish, but also likes to eat tiny pieces raw, enjoying the flavor and the sharp jolt.

"People have been eating this forever," she says.

Only in the past few years, though, has the rest of the world even heard of it. The first reports filtered out in 2000, when the government's Assam-based Defense Research Laboratory announced the bhut jolokia as the world's hottest chili. But their tests, reportedly done during research on tear gas, took years to be corroborated.

The confirmation came this year from New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute, where spiciness is a religion. The institute got its first bhut jolokia seeds in 2001, but it took years to grow enough peppers for testing.


Their results, backed up by two independent labs and heralded by Guinness, were astonishing.

A chili's spiciness can be scientifically measured by calculating its content of capsaicin, the chemical that gives a pepper its bite, and counting its Scoville units.

And how hot is the bhut jolokia?

As a way of comparison: Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units. Your basic jalapeno pepper measures anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.

The previous record holder, the Red Savina habanero, was tested at up to 580,000 Scovilles.

The bhut jolokia crushed those contenders, testing at 1,001,304 Scoville units.


While small amounts of bhut jolokia are grown in a few other places, including Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (and a similar variety, the Dorset Naga, ,in England), horticulturists say the hills, heat and humidity of the Indian northeast make it the ideal greenhouse.

The pepper is known by any number of names across India's northeast. It's the "poison chili" in some areas, the "king of the chilis" in others. Just to the south of Assam is Nagaland, it's eaten in nearly every meal. As a result, it is often called the Naga mircha - the "Naga chilL"

Still, getting your hands on a fresh bhut jolokia is difficult except in a handful of northeastern towns. A few specialty companies in the U.S. and Britain sell dried chilis and seeds, but the plants are painfully fragile, susceptible to many pests and diseases, and very difficult to grow. So it may take a while before farmers outside this region are able to grow the pepper on a large scale.

For now, outside of a few exports, the bhut jolokia will remain with the people who have eaten it for centuries.

Said Saikia, the farmer: "It has become a part of our culture.

Top of page


This story is scanned from the L.A. Times so either you trust it or you don't. Regardless I have included it here in case there is some validity to it. They've screwed up the part about "Capsaicinoid, the chemical" because Capsaicinoids is a family of chemicals so who knows what else is junk science about this article. The most interesting thing here to me is the Indian bhut jolokia, I will try to find out more about this for you.

A university with a hunger for heat


In New Mexico, where the chile is king, experts bring spice to daily life.


Bhut JolokiaLAS CRUCES, N.M. - Jit Baral, a researcher at New Mexico State University, stepped into the lab and pulled a plastic gas mask over his face. He and two students strapped on heavy rubber gloves and lab smocks. They activated an exhaust fan to cycle air quickly from the room.

Then Baral gingerly lifted the object that triggered all the precautions - a small, wrinkled red chile. This was no ordinary pepper. Baral was about to prove that the bhut jolokia, originally from northeastern India, is the hottest chile in the world.

He plopped it into an electric grinder, and caustic fumes filled the room. Next, Baral ran the powder through a machine to measure its spiciness, which registered as 100 times that of a typical jalapeno. The research landed the pepper in the Guinness World Records and was another coup for a school with an unusual academic flavor.

Some universities are known for their particle accelerators,' others for their basketball teams. NMSU is renowned as a hotbed of chile innovation. Its agronomists create new strains of the pepper - more than two dozen in the last 20 years. Engineers design equipment to harvest and process it. Geneticists try to modify the fiery fruit to resist diseases, and the university library is starting an archive for all things chile.

"Because of its enormous connection to the basic culture here, it's more than just a crop," said NMSU President Michael Martin. "It has a great deal to do with how people see themselves."

The school houses a Chile Pepper Institute to educate the public about the plant. Agriculture professor Paul Bosland founded the Institute in 1992 after he and other professors were deluged with e-mails from people worldwide with hot pepper inquiries. The most common question: How does one get rid of the sting on the skin after chopping chiles? The answer: Douse your hands in milk.

Bosland is NMSU's chile breeder and hot pepper point man. A gregarious Hal Holbrook look-alike, Bosland favors bolo ties and drives a magenta pickup with a "Chileman" license plate. He breeds disease-resistant chiles for local planters. But Bosland also has time for more fanciful pursuits, such as creating a black-and-orange chile for Halloween and a pink-and-white one for Valentine's Day.

Bosland won Harvard's "Ig Noble Prize" for dubious achievement in science after developing a heatless habanero, which is used to thicken salsa. "I got emails accusing me of selling my soul to the devil after that one," Bosland recalled.

This is a state, after all, that made its official question "red or green?" (As in, which flavor chile sauce do you want on your enchiladas?) Where decorative strings of dried chile husks called ristras hang from nearly ever door, and whose residents often have a separate freezer full of roasted chiles from the summer harvest to get them through the winter.

Early last century, a Mexican born NMSU agriculture professor, Fabian Garcia, virtually created the state's chile industry by breeding a milder pepper that would appeal to Anglo palates. One strain was taken by a farmer to Southern California, where, to the chagrin of New Mexicans, it became known as the Anaheim chile. The other strains were planted in the lush fields that follow the Rio Grande as it winds past Las Cruces.

On the surface, Las Cruces (pop. 90,000) looks like any other Sunbelt town that's seeing an influx of coastal retirees, with new homes and chain restaurants springing up on desert land.

Just past the strip malls, how. ever, subdivisions abruptly give way to chile farms. Processing and canning plants line the interstate. New Mexico's chile industry contributes about $400 million to the economy and employs 5,000 people.

But since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the state's chile crop has lunged almost 50% as cheaper foreign imports from Mexico, Peru and China pushed local growers out of the market. Chile farmers are selling to developers who replace fields with subdivisions.

"This is an industry we can't afford to lose," said Gene Baca, president of the New Mexico Chile Assn., a trade group. "Losing the. chile industry in New Mexico is the equivalent to Napa Valley losing grape growing and wine production."

The industry has turned to NMSU - a land grant institution charged with supporting the state's agricultural industry. Private chile interests have financed much of the university's hot pepper studies, but this year the state Legislature gave the school $860,000 to figure a way to make chile growing more cost-effective.

What led the first human to bite into a chile is a mystery. It could have been for medicinal purposes - chiles contain cancer-fighting compounds, and Aztecs used the fruit to treat toothaches. Or it might have been for the pleasurable endorphin rush the body generates to counter the agonizing heat of a spicy pepper.

"In Neolithic times, a good high was hard to come by," said Robb Walsh, a Texas-based food writer and author of "Are You Really Going to Eat That?"

Capsaicinoid, the chemical in chile peppers that generate spiciness, is also the active ingredient in pepper spray. [Editors note: This statement is in error.  "Capsaicinoids" is the family of chemicals that produce the spiciness of the chili of which capsaicin is a principal member.  This statement should read, "Capsaicin, the chemical in chile peppers that generate spiciness, is also the active ingredient in pepper spray."]

The Indian military drew NMSU's attention to the bhut jolokia. Without explaining why it had been investigating the fruit; the Indian military announced that it believed the pepper was the world's hottest. A friend of a Chile Pepper Institute member traveled to India and bought the seeds at a local market. Bosland and researcher Baral grew the peppers and tested them late last year.

Plenty of aficionados rimy want the pepper for bragging rights. "The reason you'd want to grow the hottest chile in the world is the same reason you'd want to grow a black orchid," said David DeWitt, an adjunct professor at NMSU and Chile Pepper Institute board member. Both are passions that defy reason.

Some may argue that DeWitt, an author of more than 30 food books, has taken chile worship to an unreasonable level. He founded Chile Pepper magazine. Then he sold that magazine and founded another one, Fiery Foods & BBQ.

DeWitt even feels a personal connection with the perennial chile peppers in his home garden. "They're like vegetable pets," he said. Then he quickly caught himself: "Just to prove' I'm not completely obsessed, my garden mainly has tomatoes."

DeWitt has collected more than 1,000 chile recipe books and thousands of newspaper clippings about the plant and is donating this trove to NMSU's library. That act made him the toast of the Institute's annual conference at a hotel here earlier this year attended by more than 100 chile dignitaries - including cowboy-hatted farmers and representatives from Frito-Lay and other, international food concerns. The halls of the hotel were full of stands advertising the latest hot sauce mix.

Much of the day was devoted to description of technical research, such as the absorption of nitrogen in chiles, or updates on NMSU's efforts to create an automated chile de-stemmer with the help of the federal Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, best known for designing missile systems.

Bosland spent the day shaking hands and dispensing tips to other chile researchers.

The next day he rhapsodized about the subtleties of chile research. Working on chiles, he  said, can be as much of an art as a science. His son once described his work as "painting with genes."

"Collecting data's wonderful," Bosland said, "but we still need the person who can look at the plant's arch and color and say, 'That's the right one.' "

Top of page


This story is scanned from the L.A. Times so either you trust it or you don't. Regardless I have included it here in case there is some validity to it. They've screwed up the part about chilies causing "digestive problems" because it's has been proven that chilies are a "digestive aid" so who knows what else is junk science about this article. However, it's nice to think that some caveman was jumping up and down waving his hand in front of his open mouth.

Chiles' kick is an old story,
scientists find


Fossils show peppers were domesticated by agricultural societies in the Americas more than 6,000 years ago.

By KAREN KAPLAN Times staff Writer

Thousands of years before ketchup, mayonnaise or Grey Poupon, there was the red-hot chile pepper.

Researchers have found evidence that farmers in the Americas, stretching from the Bahamas to Panama to Peru, domesticated the spicy fruit about 6,100 years ago, making it perhaps the oldest condiment in the history of cooking.

The scientists were surprised to find that those early agricultural societies had advanced to the point of cultivating more than: staples such as maize, yams, beans and cassava.

"This is an indication that there was a complex system of agriculture and sophisticated cuisine very early, even before pottery in some places," said Linda Perry, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and leader of the study, published today in the journal Science.

Perry and other food archeologists found microscopic fossils of chile starches on milling stones, cooking vessels and even in the dirt at seven early settlements in the New World.

The oldest fossils were found in two village-sized settlements in southwestern Ecuador that were first occupied about 6,100 years ago.

The fossils have a distinctive shape, resembling jelly doughnuts whose centers were squashed on both sides. But it took several years to identify what had left them behind.

Scientists suspected a starchy food, but none of the usual suspects - maize, potatoes, yams or cassava - produced the telltale shape.

Then an offhand comment about peppers causing digestive problems led Perry to consider them as a candidate.

"My first thought was, 'That's odd, things like that are usually caused by undigested starches,' " she said. "Then, bing! The light bulb goes off."

Scientists can only guess when chiles were first domesticated from wild capsicum plants, which originated in Bolivia. Perry says she suspects that peppers are as old as maize - domesticated 9,000 years ago - because both plants were found at every site the scientists examined.

It's likely that chiles were the first condiments to be domesticated, even though agriculture developed earlier in the Middle East than in the Americas, said Greg Anderson, an evolutionary botanist at the University of Connecticut, who was not involved in the study. Their bright color and desirability among birds would have made them stand out to humans, he said.

"Given how popular it is to modem humans, why wouldn't it have been just as popular to ancient humans who were trying to make their diet a little more interesting?" Perry said.

Chiles are rich in vitamin C, so ancient people who ate them would have gained a nutritional advantage over those who didn't, said Scott Raymond, a University of Calgary archeologist and coauthor of the study. Chiles also might have contributed to humans' nutrition by helping them consume more of their staple foods.

Chiles are "an excellent disguiser," he said. "If something's not tasting quite right, you can always throw a few chiles in the pot."

Top of page


I'm not sure where I got this, I've had it kicking around for awhile, but it seems to be fairly accurate. The Scoville Unit is named in honor of Wilbur Scoville who developed this scale in 1912 to measure how much heat you feel in chilies. Originally it was a subjective taste test, but it has been refined by measuring the amount of capsaicin, the chemical that gives chilies their perceived heat.

Scoville Units in Chilies
Variety of Pepper
Bell/Sweet pepper varieties
New Mexican peppers
Espanola peppers
Ancho & Pasilla peppers
Cascabel & Cherry peppers
Jalapeno & Mirasol peppers
Serrano peppers
Arbol peppers
Cayenne & Tabasco peppers
Chiltepin peppers
Scotch Bonnet & Thai peppers
200,000 to 300,000
Habanero peppers
Around 16,000,000
Pure Capsaicin

Top of page


I've had this laying around for so long I forgot which magazine I got it from but it is originally from the American Association for Cancer Research Washington, D.C., April 1-5. After reading all of this great news about the healthful benefits of hot Chilies, and after eating blistering hot chilies for several decades, I'm going to be out right angry when I die of something. "No way this is happening!!", I'll wheeze through blood speckled lips on my way out, "I ate chilies like they were gum drops!!"

Hot-pepper ingredient slows cancer in mice

Capsaicin, the compound that gives hot chili peppers their zip, kills cancer cells in a test tube and slows the growth of pancreatic and prostate cancers in mice, two studies show.

A University of Pittsburgh Medical School team led by biochemist Sanjay K. Srivastava implanted pancreatic tumor cells from people into mice. The same day, some of the mice began receiving oral doses of capsaicin while the others got saline solution.

After 38 days, tumors in the capsaicin group were half the size of  the tumors in the mice getting saline.

Although spicy, the capsaicin didn't cause any gastrointestinal problems, says Srivastava.

In a similar study, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California, Los Angeles implanted human prostate-tumor tissue in mice. Some of the animals subsequently received capsaicin orally while others didn't. After 4 weeks, the tumors in mice getting the capsaicin were only one-fourth the size of tumors in the other mice, the scientists report in the March 15 Cancer Research.

The findings are provocative because this particular prostate cancer came from "quite an aggressive cell line;' says study coauthor James O'Kelly, a pathologist. "But we're not advocating that people start eating a lot of hot peppers to treat their prostate cancer;' he says.

Both teams of researchers became interested in capsaicin after Japanese researchers reported 5 years ago that the compound killed leukemia cells in test tubes. Similar lab tests by Srivastava's group indicate that capsaicin induces suicide by tumor cells, while O'Kelly and his colleagues found signs that the compound stifled cell proliferation in some tests and induced cell suicide in others.

Top of page


I found this in the June 19, 2004 Vol. 165, No. 25 issue of Science News. Although this is not specifically about chili peppers, it IS about salsa and I have a recipe for salsa on these pages so I think this news article has relevance to the subject of chilies. Although it is heartening to see an ingredient of salsa as an effective bacteria killer, it is absolute poetic justice that the Salmonela are bathed in pure liquid hellfire agony from the capsaicin as they are choked lifeless by the cilantro. That's what I call teamwork!

Compound in salsa kills off salmonella

Salsa is more than Just a spicy condiment. New research suggests it may also offer protection against Salmonella, the common food borne pathogen that can cause severe sickness and even death.

In preliminary experiments, chemist Isao Kubo of the University of California, Berkeley determined that the juice from salsa, which contains mainly tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and green chilies, has antibacterial properties. Now, reporting in the June Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Kubo and his colleagues have zeroed in on a particular chemical: a compound in fresh cilantro leaves called dodecenal.

After isolating dodecenal, the researchers exposed Salmonella choleraesuis to the compound. Not only did it kill the bacterial cells, but it was twice as potent as gentamicin, a drug commonly used to treat the food borne illness.

The presence of dodecenal in salsa might explain why residents of Mexico don't develop salmonellosis, even though visitors to the country often contract the illness when exposed to Salmonella contaminate food products, says Kubo. Now that scientists know about dodecenal's antibacterial powers, they might use it to develop a new treatment for Salmonella poisonings. Alternatively, Kubo says, dodecenal might find its way into general disinfectants or food additives to prevent the pathogen's transmission.

Top of page


This is blurb in an advertising supplement concerning heart health in the February 9th 2004 issue of Newsweek. Researchers are investigating using capsaicin to relieve certain kinds of heart pain. Too bad it doesn't work with the kind of heart pain that rolls around each Valentines Day ... but then come to think of it, it would do many pained heart a world of good to see the prospective lover that spurned them blasted in the face with pepper spray!

Capsaicin and Heart Pain

When you bite into a hot pepper, nerve receptors in your mouth let you know about it. It turns out that similar nerve receptors are present in the heart and may be responsible for the chest pain associated with a heart attack. A study by researchers at the Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey demonstrated that a substance very like capsaicin, the substance that makes chili peppers hot, stimulates receptors on the surface of the heart, telling you that you are having a heart attack. "These findings might be very important in developing drugs for patients with chronic heart pain that is not relieved by traditional treatments," says Hui-Lin Pan, Ph.D., the study's lead author. "By blocking these nerve receptors, we may he- able to relieve chest pain."

Top of page

Have you ever opened a can or jar of cayenne or chili powder and found it infested with little worms or beetles? What are they and how the heck can they survive in that hell hole of an environment? Why don't they just curl up and fry in the spicy flames of chili peppers?

What Are Those Bugs in my Cayanne?

Red Flour BeetleRed Flour Beetles, that's what they are. How do they survive in there with no water? There is enough water for an insect to survive on. They don't need nearly as much water as people or mammals. How can they stand the hot spice? Well, they don't feel it. They don't have vanilloid receptors. To them it is just like any other food.

The following is an excerpt from

Red Flour Beetles are a small reddish beetle that measures around 3/16th of an inch long when fully grown. They are among the most common of all pantry and cabinet infesting beetles and are easily mistaken for Confused Flour Beetles or Saw Toothed Beetles. There are a few differences between the species which are subtle and generally only a trained eye can see. The two most common differences include the antenna and the thorax. On the Red Flour Beetle, the antenna come to an abrupt end after 3 segments. On the Confused Flour Beetle the antenna gradually lengthen with 4 segments at the end. Additionally, the thorax of the Red Flour Beetle has curved sides whereas the Confused Flour Beetle has a thorax which is straight. The most important thing about these beetles, however, is control for all three species is the same. Though their biology is slightly different, these beetles will present a persistent and formidable foe once established in the home. This article will describe some basic biology of this insect and then detail what must be done to eliminate current and active infestations.

Red Flour Beetles have been around a long time. They were very much a pest to civilization thousands of years ago. This is probably due to the fact that most ancient civilizations used flour as a main food ingredient. Red Flour Beetles thrive on the dust of flour though they will readily feed on just about anything found in the home intended for people or pets. Generally found in the most southern states of America, Red Flour Beetles tend to be more comfortable in warmer climates. However, they can and do readily survive winters in the confines of any heated house. Once inside, they will readily feed upon pet food, cereal, pasta, spices, rodenticide, dried fruit and vegetables, eggs of other insects, nuts, grass seed and just about anything which can provide nutrition. Though they can be brought home with just about anything bought at the grocery store, Red Flour beetles are quite able to chew their way into just about any food they want. Unlike most pantry pests, Red Flour Beetles can find food which is well hidden and protected. Their strong chewing mouth parts will allow them to access food which is stored inside boxes and plastic bags. All that is needed is the scent of something worthwhile inside and they will make every attempt to find their way inside.

Red Flour Beetles live a long time. Average life is 3-5 years which is quite long for an insect so small. Adult females will lay a few eggs daily which will amount to 300-500 over their life time. Eggs will hatch in a couple of weeks and start to feed immediately. Larva will go through many instars or developing stages - as many as 20 - before they reach adulthood. The number of stages will depend largely on the sub species active along with local temperatures and food supplies. This process will take 2-4 months before the young instars reach adulthood. Whether they are brought home in cereal, pet food or pasta, Red Flour Beetles are a nuisance once inside the home. Like many other pantry pests, there are a few things which must be done to break their cycle once established. Here is an outline of what you must do.

First, empty all cabinets, shelves and closets where they have been seen or thought to exist. Any food stuff which has them active must be discarded in sealed plastic bags. This will help contain them until the garbage is picked up. If you are not sure if something has activity, store it in a plastic bag and check it every week. If there are any Red Flour Beetles in it they will try to get out within a few weeks. If some are found, throw it away immediately. Since this pest is temperature tolerant, don't waste your time trying to freeze adults, eggs or larva. Though you will certainly kill some of them, too many will assuredly live prepared to continue their cycle. Once food stuff which is thought to have activity is discarded, you are ready to prepare for doing a treatment. However, before you treat, vacuum all closets, shelves and baseboards. This will help to remove eggs which are too small to see. Red Flour Beetles lay eggs with a glue like excretion which helps to attach them to surfaces where food is likely to be available. This helps to keep them in place and vacuuming will help to remove some.

Top of page

Here is a 10-9-2002 article I clipped out of The Press-Enterprise, it makes an interesting read although I found the unnecessary disrespect shown to Christopher Columbus to be an annoying distraction. Shame on you Press-Enterprise, get a grip. Note that the article spells it "chile" while the standard of this web site is the spelling of "chili", both are correct according to my dictionary.

Brief History of Chili Peppers

Chile is chile, folks, and pepper is pepper.

HISTORY: Columbus put the wrong label on one of the Southwest's most popular vegetables.


Chalk up another misdirected name to America's supposed discoverer.

Christopher Columbus, in his unproductive search for riches across the Atlantic Ocean in -1492, mistook America for India. He named the natives Indians, and he also took the liberty of placing an improper label on what was to become one of the Southwest's most popular vegetables.

Believing he had found an exotic form of black pepper, Columbus took plants back with him to Spain and told the Europeans it was "the world's finest pepper."

Not pepper, Chris. Chile.

Pepper, most commonly in the form of black and white grindings, is a woody vine native to the East Indies. Chile - green and red, and a different species entirely - has its roots almost 10,000 miles away.

Columbus' chile excavations probably took place on one of several islands near the North and Central American coasts. However, most historians agree that South America, chiefly Bolivia, is the source of the original chile plant.

Tracing the plant's exact journey over time to North America is difficult. Ancient tribes of people might have carried the plant onto the continent, or Spaniards, hoping to settle the land along the Gulf Coast, might have planted the continent's first crops.

By the mid-1500s, thousands of acres of chile plants, by then called peppers, had been planted in Europe.

Seeds from the chile plant began following European travelers to North America, and soon many farmers were learning to grow their own chile crops. Along the way, new crossbred chiles evolved.

The plant became a staple of American Indian crops, and in 1696 it practically saved dozens of tribes in New Mexico, according to "The History of New Mexico" by Charles Coan.

The famine of 1696 destroyed crops, killed livestock and threatened human lives, but the chile plant thrived and helped feed people who otherwise might have starved.

In the late 19th century, chile was growing both wild and tame along the Rio Grande in West Texas and southern New Mexico.

A major early technology boost to the crop came in 1888 when a horticulturist from the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts - now New Mexico State University began experimentation into the crossbreeding and hybrid growth of chile, according to the university's Chile Pepper Institute.

Within a decade, several new artificially created breeds of chile sprouted up across the Southwest.

In 1906, the first known transplantation of New Mexican chile occurred when Emilio Ortega, a sheriff from California, took chile seeds from New Mexico back to Anaheim and coined a name for his new pepper. Known as the Anaheim, it is a variety of the plant that still grows in New Mexico today.

Just five years later, an agricultural guru created the strongest breed of New Mexican chile. Calling his product the No. 9, Fabian Garcia's pepper was the most durable crop in the south until crossbreeding technology strengthened in the late 1960s.

Today, the chile -- encompassing more than 65 different varieties and colors -- is the state's most valuable processed crop. More than 1,500 farmers harvest almost 20000 acres of chile every year in New Mexico, generating $200 million in sales.

Top of page

I found this on the web at There was some discussion there on the pain relieving properties of Capsaicin that I thought you would be interested in.

The Pharmacological Management of
Neuropathic Pain:


A review
Dr Gary McCleane MD FFARCSI,
Consultant Anaesthetist,
Pain Clinic, Craigavon Area Hospital


It has been recognised for almost 150 years that the topical application of extracts of the capsicum pepper can produce pain relief (9).  It is now recognised that the active pain killing constituent of the chili pepper is capsaicin, which when repeatedly applied topically in appropriate concentration causes reversible depletion of the neurotransmitter substance P (SP) from the sensory nerve endings (10)  and hence pain relief, which may take several weeks to occur.  Topical application of capsaicin has been shown to reduce the pain of a variety of conditions, including post herpetic neuralgia (11 - 13), painful diabetic neuropathy (14 - 16), chronic distal painful polyneuropathy (17),  surgical neuropathic pain (18), post mastectomy syndrome (19)  and osteoarthritis (20 - 23).  The major side effect is that of burning discomfort which may lead to poor patient compliance.  The addition of glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) to capsaicin reduces the burning discomfort associated with application (24,25)  and may improve compliance.  GTN is also known to have an anti-inflammatory effect (26, 27)  and this may augment the analgesia from the capsaicin.

9.  Turnbull A.  Tincture of capsicum as a remedy for chilblains and toothache.Dublin Medical Press 1850; 6: 95.
10.  Fitzgerald M.  Capsaicin and sensory neurones - a review.  Pain 1983; 15: 109 - 30.
11.  Watson CPN, Evans RJ, Watt VR.  Post-herpetic neuralgia and topical capsaicin.  Pain 1988; 33: 333 - 40.
12.  Watson CPN, Tyler KL, Bickers DR, Millikan LE, Smith S, Coleman E.  A randomized vehicle-controlled trial of topical capsaicin in the treatment of post herpetic neuralgia.  Clinical Therapeutics 1993; 15: 510 - 26.
13.  Bernstein JE, Korman NJ, Bickers DR, Dahl MV, Millikan LE.  Topical capsaicin treatment of chronic post herpetic neuralgia.  J Am Acad Dermatol 1989; 21: 265 - 70.
14.  Tandan R, Lewis GA, Krusinski PB, Badger GB, Fries TJ.  Topical capsaicin in painful diabetic neuropathy.  Diabetes Care 1992; 15: 8 - 13.
15.  The Capsaicin Study Group.  Treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy with topical capsaicin.  A multicentre, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study.  Arch Intern Med 1991; 151:  2225 - 9.
16.  Capsaicin Study Group.  Effect of treatment with capsaicin on daily activities of patients with painful diabetic neuropathy.  Diabetes Care 1992; 15:  159 - 65.
17.  Low PA, Opfer-Gehrking TL, Dyck PJ, Litchy WJ, O´Brien PC.  Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the application of capsaicin cream in chronic distal painful polyneuropathy.  Pain 1995; 60: 163 - 8.
18.  Ellison N, Loprinzi CL, Kugler J, Hatfield AK, Miser A, Sloan JA, Wender DB, Rowland KM, Molina R, Cascino TL, Vukov AM, Dhaliwal HS, Ghosh C.  Phase III placebo-controlled trial of capsaicin cream in the management of surgical neuropathic pain in cancer patients.  J Clin Oncol 1997; 15: 2974 - 80.
19.  Watson CPN, Evans RJ.  The post mastectomy pain syndrome and topical capsaicin: a randomized trial.  Pain 1992; 51: 375 - 9.
20.  Schnitzer T, Morton C, Coker S.  Topical capsaicin therapy for osteoarthritis pain: achieving a maintenance regime.  Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism 1994; 23: 34 - 40.
21.  Deal CL, Schnitzer TJ, Lipstein E, Seibold JR, Stevens RM, Levy MD, Albert D, Renold F.  Treatment of arthritis with topical capsaicin: a double-blind trial.  Clin Therapeutics 1991; 13: 383 - 95.
22.  Altman RD, Aven A, Holmburg CE, Pfeifer LM, Sack M, Young GT.  Capsaicin cream 0.025% as mono therapy for osteoarthritis: a double-blind study.  Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism 1994; 23: 25 - 33.
23.  McCarthy GM, McCarty DJ.  Effect of topical capsaicin in the therapy of painful osteoarthritis of the hands.  J Rheumatol 1992; 19: 604 - 7.
24.  McCleane GJ, McLaughlin M.  The addition of GTN to capsaicin cream reduces the discomfort associated with application of capsaicin alone.  A volunteer study.  Pain 1998;78:149 - 51.
25.  McCleane GJ.  The analgesic efficacy of topical capsaicin is enhanced by glyceryl trinitrate in painful osteoarthritis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Under  review.
26.  Berrazueta JR, Losada A, Poveda J, Ochoteco A, Riestra A, Salas E, Amado JA.  Successful treatment of shoulder pain syndrome due to supraspinatus tendinitis with transdermal nitroglycerine.  A double blind study.  Pain 1996; 66:  63 - 7.
27.  Berrazueta JR, Poveda JJ, Ochoteco J,

Top of page

This is the atomic structure of the chemical that makes chili peppers hot. After identifying this structure it was a simple matter for scientists to take the next logical step and develop atomic fusion. Soon robots will rule the world.

Chemical Make Up of Capsaicin
Capsaicin chemical
Top of page

Here is a road map of your typical chili pepper. This one looks like a mutant squashed Jalapeño pepper and that is more than just an amazing coincidence, it is what I was shooting for! That is the truly amazing thing about it. He shoots, he scores! Anyway, if you have been wondering what the heck I've been talking about as I discuss the parts of the chili then this graphic should be helpful.

Road Map to the Anatomy of the Chili Pepper
chili diagram
Top of page

Here are some facts out of the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics that should put to rest all of those hostile, red faced, and white knuckled shriek-fests you have had with your significant other at the dinner table concerning the hard scientific facts surrounding chili peppers.

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 65th Edition

No. Name Formula Molecular Wt. Color,
crystalline form,
specific rotation
point °C
point °C
Solubility Ref.


C18H27NO3 305.42 monoclinic,
prisms or scales,
210-200.01 65 ethyl alcohol,
diethyl ether,
petroleum ether
Top of page

Have you ever wondered why a birds beak did not melt into a bubbling slag smelling of burnt hair and beef tongue when a bird pecks into a blistering hot chile pepper? According to this newspaper article, they occupy a separate plane of existence. This can also explain why some insect larvae can wallow in ground pepper and not howl like an eviscerated leper who is wearing electric underpants while wading through lava with an armload of lit charcoal briquettes.

Testing the Bite of Chile Peppers

The following is from the 02/19/2002 Riverside CA Press-Enterprise in the Health and Fitness section. No author is credited:

Chile-heads, unite and thank your vanilloid receptors.

Mammals, including spice loving humans, apparently feel the zing of chile because they are sensitive to a specific molecular interaction, biologists have found. Birds, meanwhile, will gobble up hot peppers with no apparent pain.

Biologists Sven-Eric Jordt and David Julius of UC San Francisco, tested how chicken cells responded to capsaicin, the chemical in the vanilloid family thought to give chile peppers their bite. The cells responded to heat and other stimuli, but had virtually no reaction to the capsaicin, the scientists reported last week in Cell.

Chile peppers benefit because mammals won't touch them, while birds will eat them and spread their seeds over great distances.

Top of page

If you thought I was bad, get a load of this turn of the century chili head! It was from reading this very same article that I first got interested in eating chilies in the 70's. Jethro Kloss is a vegetarian health nut like myself... well not entirely, I still like to munch down on a BBQ corpse on occasion.

Herbal uses for Chili peppers.

The following text is from the book "Back to Eden" by Jethro Kloss. The original edition is copyright 1939 by Jethro Kloss. The Library of Congress Catalog Card Number is 75-585.

This disclaimer is printed in the book:

This renowned guidebook by the late Jethro Kloss is presented solely as a work of historical and cultural interest. The procedures and remedies outlined are the opinions and suggestions of the author only, based on his nearly forty years of experience. They are still faithfully followed by members of the Kloss family as well as by the multitude of persons who long have looked to Jethro Kloss and his published works for aid. Nevertheless, neither the publisher, the Kloss family, nor any other party associated with the publisher presents this work as a prescription for other persons, nor makes any representation concerning the physiological effects of any of the procedures or remedies suggested. As is emphasized elsewhere in the book, the services of a competent professional medical practitioner should be sought in every case where any indication whatsoever suggests the need of such services.

The remaining text is the full article on Capsicum Annuum (chili peppers) from chapter 29 "HERBS (Their Description and Use in Disease)"


Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum. Common Names: Cayenne pepper, red pepper, capsicum, Spanish pepper, bird pepper, pod pepper, chilies, African pepper, chili pepper, African red pepper, cockspur pepper, American red pepper, garden pepper. Medicinal Properties: Pungent stimulant, tonic, sialagogue, alterative.

Red pepper is one of the most wonderful herb medicines we have. We do wonderful things with it that we are not able to do with any other known herb. It should never be classed with black pepper, vinegar, or mustard. These are irritating, while red pepper is very soothing. While red pepper smarts a little, it can be put in an open Wound, either in a fresh wound or an old ulcer, and it is very healing instead of irritating; but black pepper, mustard, and vinegar are irritating to an open wound and do not heal Red pepper is one of the most stimulating herbs known to man with no harm or reaction.

It is effective as a poultice for rheumatism, inflammation, pleurisy, and helpful also if taken internally for these. For sores and wounds it makes a good poultice. It is a stimulant when taken internally as well as being antispasmodic. Good for kidneys, spleen, and pancreas. Wonderful for lockjaw. Will heal a sore, ulcerated stomach, while black pepper, mustard, or vinegar will irritate it. Red pepper is a specific and.very effective remedy in yellow fever, as well as other fevers and may be taken in capsules followed by a glass of water.

It is one part of a most wonderful liniment, which may be made as follows:

2 oz. gum myrrh
1 oz. golden seal
1/2 oz. African red pepper

Put this into a quart of rubbing alcohol, or take a pint of raspberry vinegar and a pint of water. Add the alcohol or vinegar to the powder. Let it stand for a week or ten days, shaking every day. This can be used wherever liniment is used or needed. It is very healing to wounds, bruises, sprains, scalds, burns, and sunburns, and should be applied freely. Wonderful results are obtained in pyorrhea by rinsing the mouth with the liniment or applying the liniment On both sides of the gums with a little cotton or gauze.


"From the Greek kapto, I bite-a biting plant The best Capsicum is obtained from Africa and South America, one province of the latter, Cayenne, giving its name to the article. It can be produced in good quality in the Southern States, especially those that lie beyond the southern line of Tennessee. It grows abundantly and of excellent quality in the West Indies, where the negroes count it almost a certain remedy for nearly all their maladies. They have no fears of fatal effects from fevers, even the terrible and devastating yellow fever, if they can get plenty of Capsicum. They not only drink a tea of it, but they chew and swallow the pods one after another, as we should so many doughnuts, and never dream of it doing them any injury. Dr. Thomas, of London, who practiced a long time in the West Indies, found cayenne pepper an almost certain remedy for yellow fever, and almost every other form of human malady. There is, perhaps, no other article which produces so powerful an impression on the animal frame that is so destitute of all injurious properties. It seems almost incapable of abuse, for however great the excitement produced by it, this stimulant prevents that excitement subsiding so suddenly as to induce any great derangement of the equilibrium of the circulation It produces the most powerful impression on the surface, yet never draws a blister; on the stomach, yet never weakens its tone. It is so diffusive in its character that it never produces any local lesion, or induces permanent inflammation.

"Yet its counter excitation is the most salutary kind, and ample in degree. A plaster of cayenne is more efficient in relieving internal inflammation than a fly blister ever was yet I never knew it to produce the slightest vesication though I have often bound it thick as a poultice on the tenderest flesh to relieve rheumatism, pleurisy, etc., which, b>. the aid of an emetic, an enema, and sudorifics, it is sure to do. I have thus cured with it, in a single night, cases of rheumatism that had been for years most distressing. Though severe on the tissue to which applied, it is so diffusive that it does not long derange the circulation, but, on the contrary, equalizes it. Thus it is not only stimulant, but antispasmodic, sudorific, febrile, anti-inflammatory, depurating, and restorative. It is powerful to arrest hemorrhage from the mucous membranes. When the stomach is foul, a strong dose of the powder will excite vomiting and an enema of it and lobelia and slippery elm will relieve the most obstinate constipation. Taken in powder in cold water it is sure to move not only the internal canal, but all the splanchnic viscera, as the liver, the kidneys, the spleen, and the pancreas, the mesentery, etc. This article, along with lobelia, some good astringent, such as bayberry or sumach leaves, a good bitter, a mucilage, a good sudorific and the vapor bath, must ever constitute the basis of the most effective medication." Standard Guide to Non-Poisonous Herbal Medicine, pp. 52, 53.

"There are several species of Capsicum, but the most prominent are the Capsicum Annuum and the Capsicum Fastigiatum-Guinea or African Bird's Eye Pepper. The last named is the official article, and is possessed of greater medicinal virtue; yet the small American species are nearly its equal. The fruit of the Fastigiatum is quite small, while that of the American species is very much larger and is heart-shaped. The African species is quite a shrub, while the American is more like an herb in appearance. Capsicum, strange though it may seem, is not a true pepper. The popular but erroneous idea is that anything that is hot is a pepper, and that therefore Capsicum must belong to the pepper family. The African or small varieties are the most pungent-I should say nearly twice as much so as the others, but owing, I suppose to the American species being cheaper, it is used as a substitute for the African. They both contain a resin and an oil, each of which is very acrid, sharp, and biting. Its properties are completely extracted by 98% alcohol, and to a considerable extent by vinegar or boiling water.

"One of the best LINIMENTS in use is prepared as follows: Boil gently for ten minutes one tablespoonful of cayenne pepper in one pint of cider vinegar. Bottle that hot, unstrained. This makes a powerfully stimulating external application for deep-seated congestions, sprains, etc.

"Capsicum is a pure stimulant, permanent in its action, and ultimately reaching every organ in the body. It creates at first a sensation of warmth, which afterwards becomes intense, and in large doses strongly excites the stomach, which influence can be utilized in the administration of emetics, when the emesis is delayed and needs to be accelerated. For this purpose give a quarter of a teaspoonful in syrup. Capsicum, by its sudden and intense stimulation of the stomach, will produce hiccoughs. It acts mainly upon the circulation, but also on the nervous structures. Its influence, which is immediate on the heart, finally extends to the capillaries, giving tone to the circulation, but not increasing the frequency of the pulse so much as giving power to it. In prostrating fevers and putrescent tendencies it may be used in full quantities combined with other suitable agents. It is a good addition to relaxant cathartics, to prevent griping and facilitates their operation when the tissues are in a sluggish condition. In cases of constipation, capsicum is efficacious in stimulating the peristaltic motion of the bowels. For this effect, give small doses daily. Of course constipation never can be cured by physic alone. Temporary relief may be obtained from carthartics, but any medicinal efforts must be combined with proper diet in order to effect a permanent cure.

"Capsicum is valuable in all forms of ague by sustaining the portal circulation. In cases of chill, give large doses of cayenne. By a large dose is meant 10 to 15 grains, or a No. O to a No. 00 capsule. Of course some patients require more than others. (A No. O capsule should contain about ten grains, and No. 00 about 15 grains.) In coughs where there is an abundant secretion of mucus in the respiratory passages, capsicum increases the power of expectoration, and thus facilitates its removal In connection with capsicum may be mentioned the slippery elm compound, which is excellent for coughs. Cut obliquely into small pieces about the thickness of a match, one ounce or more of slippery elm bark: add a pinch of cayenne, flavor with a slice of lemon, sweeten with sugar, and infuse one pint of boiling water. Take this in small doses, frequently repeated. Let a consumptive patient drink a pint of this each day. It is one of the grandest remedies that can be given, as it combines both stimulating and demulcent properties. As slippery elm is mucilaginous it will roll up the mucus material troubling the patient, and pass it down through the intestines. It is also very nourishing, and possesses wonderful healing properties. For an infant's food mix with an equal quantity of mill`, and leave out the lemon and cayenne.

"Cayenne is good in coughs, torpor of the kidneys, and to arrest mortification A peculiar effect of capsicum is worth mentioning. In Mexico the people are very fond of it, and their bodies get thoroughly saturated with it, and if One of them happens to die on the prairie the vultures will not touch the body on account of its being so impregnated with the capsicum.

"It is good in all forms of low diseases. The key to Success in medicine is stimulation, and capsicum is the great stimulant. There are many languid people who need something to make the fire of life burn more brightly. Capsicum, not whiskey, is the thing to do it. It can be given without stint or measure. It is excellent in yellow fever, black vomit, putrefaction or decay, given frequently in small doses. It is good, also, in asthmatical asphyxia (i.e., when a person cannot get his breath) combined with lobelia in what would be called the lobelia compound. It is good in profound shock. For local application it is, or should be, the base of all stimulating liniments. It is not injurious to the skin, as is turpentine or acetic acid. It is an agent that is seldom used alone. A capsicum tincture may be made as follows:

"Take two ounces of cayenne and macerate for ten to fourteen days in one quart of alcohol. Then strain and bottle. Keep in a warm place while macerating during cold weather.

"A splendid stimulating liniment is made as follows:

Tinct. Cayenne 1 qt.
Castille Soap 2 oz.
Oil of Hemlock Spruce 1/2 oz.
Oil of Origanum 1/2 OZ.
Oil of Cedar 1/2 oz.
Oil of Peppermint 2 OZ.

Shave or scrape the soap very fine, and dissolve in one Pint of water. Stir the oils into the tincture and mix with the soapy solution. A little additional oil of peppermint will greatly increase its efficacy. In a four-ounce bottle put one ounce of lobelia compound (without gum myrrh) and fill the bottle up with the stimulating liniment. Shake this well and after application cover the affected part with a piece of warmed flannel.

"The oil of capsicum represents the stimulating property of the plant in highly concentrated form. It is exceedingly strong, and the dose must be not more than one drop given on sugar. For the relief of toothache, first clean out the cavity of the tooth, then make a small plug of cotton wool saturated with oil of capsicum, which press into the cavity, and it will, in most cases, cure the toothache by its stimulating and antiseptic qualities. The beneficial effect will last for months.

"Having considered the various ingredients in the myrica compound ('composition powder'), we will now pass it under review. The bayberry bark is astringent and stimulant, the ginger root is a diffusive stimulant and antispasmodic, prompt but kindly in its action; the Canada snake root has an influence similar to that of ginger, but is more aromatic, and corrects the acridness of the other ingredients; the prickly ash berry constitutes the peripheral stimulant; and the capsicum is the great arterial stimulant, and imparts energy to the action of the whole compound." Standard Guide to Non-Poisonous Herbal Medicine, pp. 95, 96, 97, 98.


Bayberry Bark 8 oz.
African Ginger 4 oz.
Prickly Ash Berries 1 oz.
Canada Snake Root 3 oz.
African Cayenne 2 drachms

Pass these powders twice through a sifter, and they will be mixed to perfection. For emetic teas, make three pints of composition' two pints of lobelia infusion, and three pints of catnip or peppermint infusion.

"Capsicum (red pepper) is the most pronounced, natural and ideal stimulant known in the entire materia medica. It cannot be equaled by any known agent when a powerful and prolonged stimulant is needed, as in congestive chills, heart failure and other conditions calling for quick action. The entire circulation is affected by this agent and there is no reaction. In this it stands alone as ideal.

"In congested, ulcerated or infectious sore throat it is an excellent agent, but should be combined with myrrh to relieve and remove the morbidity.

"Capsicum is antiseptic and therefore a most valuable agent as a gargle in ordinary sore throat or in diphtheria.

"In uterine hemorrhages it is ideal combined with bayberry and will do more than any other remedy could. Capsicum has the power to arouse the action of the secreting organs and always follows the use of lobelia.

"When there is inactivity of the entire system, as in 'spring fever,' capsicum is indicated. In fact, whenever there is disinclination to activity it is an ideal stimulant, arousing the sluggish organism to action.

"In indigestion where gas is present, it should be given in conjunction with small doses (1 to 5 grains) of lobelia, as capsicum increases the glandular activity of both stomach and intestines.

"In all so-called 'low' fevers, where the temperature is subnormal capsicum is indicated and should be prescribed consistently.

"On the inset of a cold, when there are chills, cold and clammy feelings, the feet damp and cold, capsicum should be taken in full dose (5 to 10 grains). In these cases capsicum is more efficient than quinine and there is no reaction - no undesirable after effects.

"Even in cholera morbus and atonic diarrhea, where stimulants are usually contra-indicated, capsicum is valuable in that it 'tones' up the organs and establishes natural activity.

"In all diseases prostrating in their nature, whether pneumonia, pleurisy or typhoid fever, capsicum is invaluable in the prescription as the toning agent which helps the system to throw off the disease and reestablish equilibrium.

"In all acute conditions where capsicum is indicated, the call is for the maximum dose-from three to ten grains, preferably in tablet form, followed by a large drink of hot water. In chronic and sluggish conditions, the small dose frequently given, is 1 to 3 grains with either hot or cold water.

Capsicum plasters are valuable in pneumonia, pleurisy and other acute congestions. Combine with lobelia and bran or hops. One hour is the maximum time to keep them applied."-The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, pp. 69, 70, 71.

"As the common red pepper of table use, capsicum is well known to almost all people. None know better its virtue than the habitual drinker who considers it his best friend and never fails to use plenty of it in his hot soups when sobering up and soothing his cold and sore stomach after a prolonged spree. Common red pepper may be given safely in capsules and take the place of tablets. In the onset Of chills and colds it is the sovereign remedy." The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, pp. 79, 80.

"Whenever a stimulant is necessary Capsicum should have first consideration. It is indicated in low fevers and prostrating diseases. Capsicum is non-poisonous and there is no reaction to its use. It is the only natural stimulant worth while considering in diarrhea and dysentery with Woody mucus, stools and offensive breath."-The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, p. 143.

"The stimulant. There is no other stimulant known to medical science so natural, so certain and with less reaction following its constant use. Capsicum is indicated in all low fevers and prostrating diseases. Capsicum increases the power of all other agents, helps the digestion when taken with meals, and arouses all the secreting organs. Whenever a stimulant is indicated, capsicum may be given with the utmost safety." The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, p. 150. Capsicum, cayenne (red pepper) is not a pepper, no more than water pepper or peppermint. Water pepper is also called smart weed, is very hot but a wonderful medicine.

"Peppermint well known all over the civilized world is very heating, will stimulate like a drink of whiskey, but there is no reaction from it, no bad after effects. It permanently strengthens the whole system. Red pepper does the same. There are a number of other herbs that are very hot which are God-given medicines.

"Capsicum, cayenne, red pepper: This plant is indigenous to the warmer climates, Asia, Africa, and the Southern States. The kind bearing the larger berries grows in the more northern places and is frequently used for culinary purposes.

"The African bird pepper is the purest and best stimulant known. It has a pungent taste, and is the most persistent heart stimulant ever known. It is exceedingly prompt in its effects. Through the circulation, its influence is manifest through the whole body. The heart first, next the arteries, then the capillaries, and the nerves. We have known in cases of apoplexy a bath of hot water and mustard with half a teaspoon of cayenne added and the feet thrust in to give good results, the pressure being removed from the brain by equalizing of the circulation.

"The negroes of the West Indies soak the pods in water, add sugar and the juice of, sour oranges, and drink freely in fevers. Capsicum has a wonderful place in inflammation. We have often been told that it would burn the lining of the stomach, and our medical, as well as lay friends, have at times shown fear at its use. We assure the student that the fear of Capsicum is unfounded. We have used it freely for over a quarter of a century, and therefore feel that our experience is worth more than the opinions of those who know nothing about it experimentally.

"Some twenty years ago we were asked to send something to a lady whom we were told was suffering from pleurisy. After getting what little information we could, we decided to send some African bird pepper, as it was in the early hours of the morning and we were on the prairie and could not get anything in the way of supplies. Being satisfied that there was inflammation, we ordered three number four capsules filled with cayenne to be given every hour until the pains ceased. We were surprised later to learn that the pains had ceased in two and a half hours and no other remedies of any kind had been used, the capsules having been taken in smaller dosage after the pain eased. We were asked what was the wonderful remedy we had sent and when we told the husband of the patient, he said, had they known what was in the capsules, he would not have given them.

"We do not, of course, refer to this case to indicate that capsicum is a cure for pleurisy. We should have used other means as well, had the circumstances permitted. We mention it to show its use in inflammatory conditions.

"It is useful in cramps, pains in the stomach and bowels, and sometimes in constipation will create a heat in the bowels, causing peristaltic action of parts previously contracted. In these later cases it would be well to give it in small doses in the form of warm infusion, from half to one teaspoonful to a cup of boiling water. In typhoid fever, in combination with hepatics and a little golden seal, it will sustain the portal circulation and give much more power to the hepatics used.

"In colds, relaxed throat, cold condition of the stomach, dyspepsia, spasms, palpitation, particularly in the acute stages, give a warm infusion of capsicum in small repeat doses, about two teaspoonfuls every half hour or more frequently if required.

"A little capsicum sprinkled in the shoes will greatly assist in cold feet. Some place a sprinkle in the socks. Don't place too much however; you may find it too warm.

"In hemorrhage from the lungs place your patient in the vapour bath and give an infusion of Capsicum. The pressure will be taken from the ruptured vessels and good results obtained.

"In quinsy and diptheria, apply the tincture of cayenne (red pepper) around the neck. Then place a flannel around the neck wet with the infusion of cayenne and use the infusion internally at the same time freely. ,

"A good liniment for sprains, bruises, rheumatism, and neuralgia may be made as follows:

Tincture Capsicum (Red Pepper) 2 Fluid Ounces
Fluid Extract Lobelia 2 Fluid Ounces
Oil of Wormwood 1 Fluid Drachm
Oil of Rosemary 1 Fluid Drachm
Oil of Spearmint 1 Fluid Drachm

"In setting forth the above uses of this agent, we do not wish the student to consider it a cure-all. Such is not the case; but where a stimulant is needed of this type, it will not fail the physician. It is not used more because its value is not realized." Dominion Herbal College, Ltd. pp. 1, 2, Lesson 5.

"Capsicum is the botanical name of a large genus or family of plants which grow in various countries, as Africa, South America, and the East and West Indies. We use only the African bird pepper, as it retains its heat longer in the system than any other, and is the best stimulant known. It has a pungent taste, which continues for a considerable length of time; when taken into the stomach it produces a pleasant sensation of warmth, which soon diffuses itself throughout the whole system, equalizing the circulation. Hence it is so useful in inflammation and all diseases which depend upon a morbid increase of blood in any particular part of the body. According to analysis, cayenne consists of albumen, pectin, (a peculiar gum), starch, carbonate of lime, sesquioxide of iron, phosphate of potash, alum, magnesia, and a reddish kind of oil. In apoplexy we have found it beneficial to put the feet in hot water and mustard, and at the same time give half a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper in a little water. This treatment has caused a reaction, taking the pressure of the blood from the brain, and by this means saved the patients. Some may ask, 'Will it produce an inflammatory action?' We say decidedly not, for there is nothing that will take away inflammation so soon. We have used it in every stage of inflammation and never without beneficial results. Mr. Price, the well-known traveler, lays it down as a positive rule of health that the warmest dishes the natives delight in are the most wholesome that strangers can use in the putrid climates of lower Arabia, Abyssinia, Syria, and Egypt. Marsden, in his history of Sumatra, remarks that cayenne pepper is one of the ingredients of the dishes of the natives. The natives of the tropical climates make free use of cayenne, and do not find it injurious. Dr. Watkins, who visited the West Indies, says the negroes of those islands steep the pods of the cayenne in hot water, adding sugar and the juice of sour oranges, and drink the tea when sick or attacked with fever. It is very amusing to see the medical men prohibiting the use of cayenne in inflammatory diseases as pernicious, if not fatal, and yet find them recommending it in their standard works for the same diseases. Dr. Thatcher, in his dispensatory, says: 'There can be but little doubt that cayenne furnishes us with the purest stimulant that can be introduced in the stomach.' Dr. Wright remarks that cayenne has been given for putrid sore throats in the West Indies with the most signal benefit. Paris, in his Pharmacologia, says that the surgeons of the French army have been in the habit of giving cayenne to the soldiers who were exhausted by fatigue. Dr. Fuller, in his prize essay on the treatment of scarlet fever, says: 'Powdered cayenne made into pills with crumbs of bread and given four times a day, three or four each time, is a most valuable stimulant in the last stages of the disease, and is also good in all cases of debility, from whatever cause it may arise.' Cayenne given in half teaspoonful doses, mixed with treacle and slippery elm, at night, is a valuable remedy for a cough. Bleeding of the lungs is easily checked by the use of cayenne and the vapor bath. By this means circulation is promoted in every part of the body, and consequently the pressure upon the lungs is diminished, thus affording an opportunity for a coagulum to form around the ruptured vessel. In advocating the use of cayenne we do not wish to be understood that it will cure everything, nor de we recommend it to be taken regularly, whether a stimulant is required or not. Medicines ought to be taken only in sickness. If persons take a cold a dose of cayenne tea will generally remove it, and by this means prevent a large amount of disease. It is an invaluable remedy in the botanic practice." The Model Botanic Guide to Health, pp. 33-34-35.

The above quotations on capsicum are from some of the world's foremost herbalists, therefore are very valuable. I quote these herbalists because I know them to be Christian men and they verify my own practical experience with capsicum.

Top of page

Chili Pepper Page | Chili Recipes | Chili Humor | Chili Facts | Chili Gardening | Gardener's Diary

Back to Hobbies page