Capsicum fructescens Solanaceae Also called Cayenne, Chilli, Hot pepper, Tabasco pepper
Native to tropical America, the capsiwm is now grown succesifully as an annual in temperate parts of the world. This little perennial shrub is no taller than 70cm. Slender branches shoot out from the main stem, bearing oval leaves. The long, thin fruits, known as peppers, can reach a length if 50cm in certain varieties. The peppers are green at first, progressing to orange then bright red as they ripen.
The hot spicy taste is imparted by capsaicinoids, particularly capsaicin first isolated from the plant in 1876. Carotenoids constitute 0.3-0.8 per cent of the pepper, and are responsible for its bright colour..The peppers are also rich in vitamin C and contain saponins, which are thought to be able to kill bacteria.
Taken internally, capsicum stimulates the digestive system, and is used to treat indigestion, flatulence, colic and constipation.Capsaicin acts to reduce pain and inflammation when capsicum is usedexternally for conditions such as lumbago, arthritis, general muscle and joint pain, and skin irritations. The capsaicin in capsicum improves the circulation, which promotes healing by helping to remove toxins from and deliver nutrients to the affected area. Capsicum is also applied to the scalp in poultices with the aim of preventing hair loss. Because of the antiseptic and antiinflammatory effects of its saponins, capsicum is also used in a gargle to treat laryngitis.
PREPARATION AND DOSAGE
For internal use
TO TREAT digestive problems TINCTURE (1:20 in 60% alcohol) Take 0.3-1.0ml three times a day.
For external use
TO TREAT muscular and joint pain, skin irritations, chilblains CREAMS, OINTMENTS Apply to the affected area three or four times a day.
TO TREAT chronic laryngitis GARGLE Mix a pinch of capsicum powder with 25ml of lemon juice, add hot water and honey. Use as required.
IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR
Capsicum grows best in a greenhouse or sunny site, at temperatures above 18°C. Plant the seeds in welldrained soil that is rich in nutrients.
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