The fruit of Capsicum annuum.
Preparations.—The Powder. Tincture of Capsicum.
Dose.—The dose will vary from one grain to one drachm of the powder, and from one drop to one drachm of the tincture.
Therapeutic Action.—Capsicum is stimulant, carminative, rubefacient, and vesicant. In large doses it is a very pungent, acrid stimulant, producing great heat and a sensation of burning in the stomach when swallowed. By Christison it is regarded as an "irritant poison." It acts as a powerful and pure stimulant in arousing the sensibility and promoting the secretion of organs, when administered in small quantities; yet vascular activity does not seem to be augmented in proportion to its local action.
In torpid or lethargic states of the system, and in cases of paralysis depending upon torpor of the nervous system, and not upon organic lesion, it is an appropriate remedy.
In flatulency and indigestion, attended with a languid and feeble state of the digestive organs, it will be found serviceable; it promotes digestion and removes flatulency, by exciting the gastric nerves and stimulating the muscular coat of the stomach to renewed activity.
Agues or intermittents have been arrested by its use, and in protracted cases, when tonics fail to exert their normal influence upon the system, from loss of gastric susceptibility, capsicum constitutes a valuable adjunct to quinine or other anti-periodics by increasing the nervous sensibility of the patient. In habitual or accidental torpor or constipation of the bowels, it serves as a valuable adjuvant to cathartics, stimulating the muscular coat, and augmenting the susceptibility of the intestines to the action of these agents. Capsicum not only increases the activity of cathartic agents, rendering a less quantity of them necessary, but it likewise modifies their action, preventing nausea and griping.
In the collapsed stage of cholera, in yellow fever, asthenic dropsy or asphyxia, it has been found a useful remedy.
When applied to the surface, cayenne pepper acts as a powerful rubefacient and topical excitant, and if long continued, even as a vesicant. For these purposes it is employed whenever an active remedy of this character is required, as in the low forms of fever, comatose states of the system, great torpor or insensibility, and in all cases where an active, speedy, and powerful revulsive application is required, this agent has no superior. It is employed as a topical application to old and indolent ulcers, either by sprinkling it upon the surface or aa a cataplasm, combining it with myrrh, hydrastis, and ulmus fulva; it excites the parts to healthy action, and promotes granulation and cicatrisation. In cases of great insensibility it may be sprinkled upon a mustard poultice, or a poultice of the Capsicum or the tincture may be applied to the surface previous to the application of the mustard, in order to arouse the sensibility and insure the revulsive and general excitant action of that remedy. It constitutes a valuable adjunct to stimulating liniments.
The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.