Family Solanaceae

Habitat ► Native to the West Indies and tropical America; now cultivated throughout tropical regions of India.

Capsicum frutescens Linn.

English ► Chilli, Red Pepper.

Ayurvedic ► Raktamaricha, Lankaa, Katuviraa.

Unani ► Mirch, Filfil-e-Ahmar, Filfl-e-Surkh, Surkh Mirch.

Siddha/Tamil ► Milagay.

Action ► Stimulant, accelerates oxygenation of cells, encourages adrenal glands to produce corticos-teroids, increases gastrointestinal secretion. Carminative, antispasmodic, antiseptic. Used externally for rheumatism, backache, lumbago, neuralgia, painful muscle spasm.

Red chilli contains capsaicin (0.11.5%), carotenoids, flavonoids, volatile oil; steroidal saponins (capsicidins, only in seeds).

Capsaicin stimulates the circulation and alters temperature regulation; topically desensitizes nerve endings and acts as a local analgesic.

Capsaicin produces a protective effect in rat lung and liver by strengthening the pulmonary antioxidant enzyme defence system. Acute capsaicin treatment causes release of substance desensitization of the respiratory tract mucosa to a variety of lung irritants.

Red pepper or an equivalent amount of capsaicin, when fed along with cholesterol-containing diets to female albino rats, prevented significantly the rise of liver cholesterol levels.

Vitamin P has been isolated from the chillies. Vitamin C gradually increases during maturation and reaches maximum at the semi-ripe or pink coloured stage and decreases thereafter.

Capsaicin exhibited a hypoglycae-mic effect in dogs; insulin release was increased. (Phytother Res, 2001, Aug 15(5), 391-4.)

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