CHILLI PEPPER, Capsicum annuum


Latin name:          Capsicum annuum

English names:   Chili pepper, chilli, chillie, chili, and chile

Sanskrit name: Mairichi phalam, katuvira, bruchi, ujjvala

Indian name: Lal mirch (red), hari mirch (green)

Medicinal parts used: Fruit

Chili pepper is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Depending on flavour intensity and fleshiness, their culinary use varies from use as a vegetable (e.g. bell pepper) to use as a spice (e.g. cayenne pepper). It is the fruit that is harvested.

Red chilies contain high amounts of vitamin C and carotene (“provitamin A”). Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a considerably lower amount of both substances. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins, and vitamin B6 in particular. They are very high in potassium and high in magnesium and iron.

Therapeutic use:

  • In medicinal doses, it has a reputation for stimulating the gut and helping digestion, causing a burning sensation in the mouth and increasing the flow of saliva.
  • It is reputed to stimulate the heart, skin, kidneys and nervous system and to act as an aphrodisiac.
  • It has been given for a number of conditions such as in some forms of delirium, for sea-sickness, malarial and other fevers, gout, constipation and haemorrhoids.
  • It has also been used for alleviating uterine and other internal bleeding, and when combined with a plant called nux vomica has been used for digestive disorders, chronic diarrhea and colic, and has been used in chronic alcoholism.
  • The snuff has been used to treat hay fever.
  • The whole plant cooked in milk has been applied to reduce swellings and hardened tumours.
  • Capsicum frutescens, also known as bird’s eye chilli, has been used in neuralgic and rheumatic conditions as a stimulant.
  • A gargle, tincture or paste has been used for tonsillitis and other sore throat conditions and hoarseness.

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