- Family Solanaceae
- Capsicum annum
- Capsicum frutescens
- Capsicum, Grains of Paradise, African Pepper, Bird Pepper, Chilli/chili/chile Pepper, Sweet Pepper, Hungarian Pepper, Red Pepper, Goat’s Pod, Zanzibar Pepper, Paprika, Hot Pepper, Tabasco Pepper
- Do not take if suffering from peptic ulcers or acid indigestion.
- Do not use therapeutic doses during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Avoid touching the eyes or other sensitive areas after handling the fruits or seeds.
It is native to Central America, but it is now cultivated in tropical areas of the world, especially Africa and India. It is a spiky shrub, growing to about three feet in height producing long, thin, scarlet-red fruits filled with white seeds. C. frutescens is closely related to C. annum, but is not recognized as a separate species by all botanists. This species is a perennial, producing mainly hot fruits.
Peppers have been grown in Mexico for more than 7,000 years. Pre-Columbian ceramincs are decorated with the fruits, confirming that the Aztecs cultivated and used these fruits to a great degree.
Columbus is credited with taking the fruits from the New World back into the Old.
The cayenne was originally called the Ginnie pepper.
Gerard described it as “extreme hot and dry, even in the fourth degree” and recommended it for scrofula, a prevalent lymphatic throat and skin infection commonly known as the King’s Evil.
Cayenne was popular with 19th century physiomedicalists, who used it for chills, rheumatism, and depression.
The Apache, Hopi, Navajo, Pueblo, and other Southwestern Native American tribes, rubbed powdered cayenne onto arthritic joints to help block pain and reduce swelling.
In his book Canaries: Their Care and Breeding (1978), George Lynch relates this story.
"The Norwich was the first canary ever to be colour fed. The story is that in the early 1870s a Norwich breeder had a good bird which had developed a bad chill during the moult and he tried feeding it hot cayenne pepper as a cure. Whether or not this effected a cure is not known, but the bird developed a rich orange colour when it grew its new feathers. The breeder kept the secret to himself and after the next moulting season produced richly coloured birds on the show bench. Predictably this caused all kinds of trouble and following protests the birds were sent to the public analyst but no traces of artificial colouring or staining could be found. Around 1873 the secret was disclosed and for a period 'fed' and 'non-fed' classes were provided at shows, but it was generally agreed that colour feeding had come to stay."
- appetite and circulatory stimulant
- carminative (relieves flatulence)
- diaphoretic (promotes sweating)
- rubifacient (produces warmth when rubbed on the skin).
- stimulating nerve tonic
- capsaicin (0.1-1.5%)
- volatile oil
- steroidal saponins (capsicidins in seeds only)
- fatty acids
- vitamins A, B, and C
- 25 g/1 oz cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp. mustard powder
- 2 inches ginger root or 1 tbsp. dried ginger
- 2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 300 ml/1 1/4 c. vegetable oil (olive is best)
- Follow directions for an infused oil: Put the ingredients into a container and place into a pan of water that comes to within an inch of the top. Simmer slowly for two hours. This procedure allows for prolonged heating without the danger of spoiling the oil by boiling. Burnt oil has no value and must be discarded. After two hours, allow to cool then strain well.
- 8 g/1/4 oz each of parsley and sage
- 1 heaping tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 10 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
- 500 ml/ 2 1/4 c. cider vinegar
- Macerate the ingredients for two weeks, strain, and bottle. Dilute 1 tsp. with water to use. This remedy gives a powerful warming sensation, clearing the head and the sinuses.