Capsicum frutescens/annuum Common name: Cayenne, chilli pepper
Parts used: Fruit
Constituents: Capsaicinoids (mainly capsaicin), carotenoids (capsanthin, capsorubin, carotene, lutein; ascorbic acid (0.1-0.5%), Tocopherols, steroidal saponins (capsicidins) in seeds and root, vitamin A
Medicinal actions: Antioxidant, circulatory stimulant, general tonic, analgesic, carminative, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, antiseptic, rubefacient, hemostatic, gastric stimulant, carminative, counter-irritant.
Medicinal use: One of the purest of all known stimulants and the most useful of the stimulating diaphoretics. Its potent diaphoretic qualities make it of wide applicability in most fevers, infections and general body cleansing. It regulates blood flow, equalizing and strengthening the heart, arteries, capillaries and nerves. It is a general tonic and is specific for the circulatory and digestive system. It acts with force and has a long-lasting, spreading effect, acting mainly on the circulation and nerves to give increased tone to circulation manifested as increased force of the pulse. It may be used in flatulent dyspepsia and colic, and if there is insufficient peripheral circulation causing cold hands and feet. It is used for treating debility and warding off colds. Externally it is used a rubefacient in problems such as rheumatic pains. It stimulates excessive production of substance P (a neurotransmitter involved in pain, inflammation and pruritis) by peripheral neurons to the point of depletion.
- Capsaicinoids (mainly capsaicin) stimulate circulation and lipid motility from adipose tissue, and reduces triglycerides. Stimulate GIT mucosa which is sensitive to capsaicin, promoting blood flow to the area and increases vascular permeability thus protecting it from mucosal damage.
Pharmacy: All internal forms of capsicum are best tolerated if taken with food. Capsules: 30-120 mg TID. Tincture: (1:5, 25%), 0.25-1 ml TID, Maximum weekly dose is 3 ml. Ointment and cream—apply topically as needed.
Toxicity: Adverse reactions to topical application include: burning, stinging, erythema, heat, pain, and with prolonged use may cause permanent loss of sensory nerve function in the area of application. Symptoms of internal toxicity include: heartburn, anal burning, gastric erosions. Internal toxicity may occur if Capsicum is ingested in quantities greater than the therapeutic doses away from food. External adverse effects may occur if Capsicum extracts highly concentrated in capsiacin are applied for a prolonged period of time and may cause mild to moderate burning when first applied.
Contraindications: Internal use – active duodenal ulcer, GERD, acute diarrhea, acute cholelithiasis. External application to eyes and/or mucosal membranes.
Interactions: Internally could theoretically potentiate anticoagulants.