The Capsicum peppers vary significantly in shape, size, color, and pungency, with over 20 different species. The very mordacious, hot-tasting peppers, indigenous to more tropical habitats, are often called chile, chili, or Cayenne pepper, whereas the milder European varieties are known as sweet peppers, bell peppers, or paprika.
Capsicum peppers are apparent from black pepper, a vine native to India that is the source of peppercorns, mainly used as a condiment spice. Different members of the Capsicum pepper family have been used traditionally in Central and South America and in Asia to cure many diseases.
Common indications include cardiovascular, circulatory, and respiratory complications; bowel disorders; wounds; burns; joint pains; and headaches. Pepper extracts are also used in sprays for apologia against wild animals, humans, and garden pests. Peppers contain about 125 volatile oils, as well as glycosides and vitamins. The main constitute of capsicum peppers is the capsaicin. Pure capsaicin and the associated dihydrocapsaicin are extraordinarily pungent; they can be detected in a dilution of 1 in 17 million.The "hotness" of peppers is measured on the Scoville Organoleptic scale. Sweet bell peppers usually have zero Scoville units.
The capsaicinoids are mysterious in water but readily dissolve in alcohol and vegetable oils. A great deal is known about capsaicin. This molecule has proved to be a precious tool for evaluating physiological mechanisms of cough, bronchospasm, and mucus production in humans and animals. However, its most important use is as a treatment for pain.
Capsaicin is a lipophilic vanilloid which acts on receptors in the minor terminals of the nocioceptors that respond to painful stimuli. The stimulated receptor opens certain cation channels, resulting in transmission of sensory input through unmyelinated C-fibers. The transmitted megrim produces release of a neuropeptide, substance P, from sensory nerves that mediate pain. It has been shown that repeated or persisted stimulation by capsaicin-that initially causes pain-gradually inactivates the nocioceptors and sensory nerve fibers, and they eventually degenerate. Pain may return, yet, as receptors and nerve fibers regenerate over several weeks. Peppers in large amounts will find oral or topical exposure to be unpleasant.
Topical use causes increased pain for the first few days of use; patients must be mentored about this effect. Oral intake of peppery preparations can lead to gagging, coughing, incompetency to speak, dyspnea, and vomiting. Some patients with dyspepsia may find oral capsaicin increases discomfort and can induce gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and proctitis.