Habitat & Cultivation : Chilli is native to the tropical Americas, and is now cultivated throughout the tropics, especially in Africa and India. It is grown from seed in early spring and flourishes in hot, moist conditions. The fruit is harvested when ripe in summer and is dried in the shade.
- Capsaicin (0. 1-1.5%)
- Volatile oil
- Steroidal saponins (capsicidins – in seeds only)
- Relieves muscle spasms
- Increases sweating
- Increases blood flow to the skin
- Extensive clinical research indicates that capsaicin, the compound responsible for the hot and pungent taste in chili peppers, exhibits robust local analgesic activity in specific types of nerve pain. When applied to the skin, capsaicin desensitizes nerve endings, serving as a counter-irritant. It is now a standard prescription for alleviating neuralgic pain and may offer effective relief in conditions like arthritis and headaches.
Traditional & Current Uses
- Warming stimulant : The herb’s warming characteristics render it a valuable remedy for addressing poor circulation. It enhances blood flow to both the extremities, such as the hands and feet, as well as to the central organs.
- Antimicrobial : In Mayan herbal medicine, chili was employed to combat microbial infections, and it is now recognized that various Capsicum species, including chili, exhibit significant antimicrobial activity. The inclusion of chili in food has been associated with a reduced likelihood of developing gastric or intestinal infections, and herbalists often utilize the herb to treat conditions such as gastroenteritis and dysentery.
- External uses : When applied topically to the skin, chili exhibits mild analgesic properties. Additionally, it acts as a rubefacient, promoting increased blood flow to the affected area. This quality proves beneficial in stimulating circulation, particularly in “cold” rheumatic and arthritic conditions. By facilitating the removal of waste products and enhancing the flow of nutrients to the tissues, chili contributes to the overall improvement of these conditions. Moreover, chili may be applied to unbroken chilblains for relief.
- Internal uses : Chili is consumed to alleviate gas and colic, as well as to enhance the secretion of digestive juices. It can be ingested in frequent, small doses to support a weak or failing heart. When incorporated into gargles, a pinch of chili proves excellent for soothing sore throats. Additionally, chili is known to be helpful in relieving symptoms of acute diarrhea.