Capsicum (U. S. P.)—Capsicum.

Preparations: Tincture of Capsicum - Compound Tincture of Myrrh - Compound Tincture of Lobelia and Capsicum - Oleoresin of Capsicum - Compound Capsicum Liniment - Capsicum Plaster - Compound Capsicum Plaster - Fluid Extract of Capsicum - Troches of Capsicum - Troches of Capsicum and Lobelia - Pills of Podophyllum, Belladonna, and Capsicum

"The fruit of Capsicum fastigiatum, Blume" (U. S. P.), (Capsicum minimum, Roxburgh).
Nat. Ord.—Solanaceae.
COMMON NAMES: Cayenne pepper, African pepper, Bird pepper, Guinea pepper, or Chillies (in England), Red pepper.
ILLUSTRATION: Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 188.

Botanical Source.—This plant differs from the next species in being a shrub instead of an herbaceous annual, and in having the corolla lobes more sharply pointed, and differs also in fruit and seed. The fruits, 2 or 3 in number, are borne where the branches fork. They are from ½ to less than 1 inch long, narrow, somewhat oblong-ovoid, erect, sub-cylindrical, of bright scarlet-red color, and are borne on a flat cup-like calyx. The fruit is hot, extremely pungent, or biting, and has a characteristic odor. Its seeds are smaller than those of Capsicum annuum, Linné, a description of which is here added.

Capsicum annuum, Linné, Pod pepper.—An annual plant, of a dark-green color, almost smooth, and growing 1 or 2 feet high. The stems are herbaceous, angular, furrowed, and branched. The leaves are ovate or oblong, acuminate, entire, on long petioles, and sometimes hairy on the veins underneath. The flowers are white, solitary, axillary, pendulous, with dark-colored oblong anthers; the calyx angular, erect, persistent, with 6 short acute lobes; the corolla hypogynous, rotate, 5-lobed; the corolla-tubes very short; the lobes spreading. Stamens 5; ovaries ovate; style filiform; stigma blunt. The fruit is of various forms, round, oblong, cordate, or horned, and either of scarlet or yellow pods, smooth, shining, and 2-celled, containing numerous flat, dry, reniform, very acrid seeds (L.).

History.—There are several species of Capsicum, all varying more or less in their degrees of pungency. The only plant now recognized by both the United States Pharmacopoeia and the British Pharmacopoeia is the C. fastigiatum, Blume. The botanical description of the Capsicum annuum, Linné, is here included, because often employed for the same purposes as the official species, and on account of its being largely cultivated in American gardens. Furthermore, it is the official species of the Pharmacopoeia Germanica. It undoubtedly forms a large part of ground red pepper. The official capsicum grows on the Guinea coast and the East Indian Isles.

There are several other species of Capsicum, as the C. frutescens, Linné; C. longum, Linné; C. cordiforme, Miller; C. grossum, Willdenow; C. chlorocladum, De Candolle; C. cerasiforme, Willdenow, etc. Many of them, however, are regarded as mere varieties. They are natives of the East and West Indies, and of most hot climates throughout the globe. Several species are cultivated in the United States, flowering from June to September, and maturing their fruit in the latter part of autumn. A good variety is found indigenous in Texas. They all agree in producing a shining vesicular berry of a greenish, yellowish, cherry-red, or most generally scarlet color, consisting of a thin, fleshy, inflated, bilocular, or trilocular capsule, and many small, flat, reniform seeds. The Bird pepper (C. fastigiatum, Blume) is usually deemed the best. The C. annuum, Linné, is the most extensively used in this country. The large ovate peppers are pickeled while green. All the varieties of capsicum have a faint, characteristic odor, and an extremely hot, acrimonious taste, which in some is so intense that the smallest fragment, when chewed, will excite a sensation of intolerable burning in the mouth. This acridity is imparted to hot water, ether, spirit, vinegar, and fixed oils. Powdered cayenne pepper, of good quality, is of a bright color, varying from a beautiful red to a brown or yellow, which is considerably discolored by the action of light. Insects will attack it.

Adulterations.—Powdered capsicum is sometimes adulterated with pulverized woods or barks, red ochre, and minium (red lead). This last may be discovered, by steeping the capsicum in nitric acid diluted with water, then adding sodium sulphate to the filtered solution, which gives a white deposit, if the metallic oxide is contained in it.

Description.—"Oblong-conical, from 10 to 20 Mm, (⅓ to ¾ inch) long, supported by a flatfish, cup-shaped, 5-toothed calyx, with a red, shining, membranous and translucent pericarp, enclosing 2 cells, and containing flat, reniform, yellowish seeds attached to a thick, central placenta. It has a peculiar odor, and an intensely hot taste"—(U. S. P.).

Chemical Composition.—In 1816 and 1817, Braconnot and Bucholz extracted what they believed to be the active constituent and called it capsicin. According to Hager (Handb. Pharm. Praxis, 1886), Braconnot gives the following composition of 100 parts of Spanish pepper: Pungent oil, 1.9; wax, combined with red coloring matter, 0.9; brown amylaceous matter, not blued by iodine (pectic acid, according to Berzelius), 9.0; gum, 6.0; nitrogenous matter, 5.0; woody fiber, 67.0; potassium citrate, 6.0; potassium phosphate and chloride, 3.4. Capsicin of Braconnot and Bucholz is obtained by making an alcoholic extract of capsicum, and then digesting this in ether, filtering and evaporating the ethereal solution. It is a thick liquid, of a yellowish-red, or reddish-brown color, of an overpowering acrid taste, volatilizes at a moderate elevation of temperature, and disengages so acrid a vapor, that ½ grain will cause every person in a large room to cough and sneeze violently. Water and vinegar slightly dissolve it, but ether, oil of turpentine, alcohol, chloroform, and the caustic alkalies readily dissolve it. With barium oxide it forms a solid, acrid combination (P.—T.). F. Victor Heydenreich (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1858), concluded that the capsicin of Braconnot consisted of two active oils with an inert fatty substance, and that the true capsicin consisted of these oils without the fatty matter. In 1873, Buchheim pronounced capsicol to be the active principle which, however, was probably not quite pure (Flückiger). Mr. J. C. Thresh (Pharm. Jour. and Trans., 1876) succeeded in isolating the probably pure acrid principle—a colorless crystalline substance present in small amount only, and difficult to obtain pure—to which be gave the name capsaicin (C9H14O2). It is intimately associated with a fatty material, composed largely of palmitic acid. It is extremely rubefacient, fuses at 59° C. (138.2° F.), sublimes at 115° C. (239° F.), and, when heated, gives off intensely acrid fumes. Alcohol, ether, hot disulphide of carbon, benzin, diluted alkalies, and amylic alcohol dissolve it. In 1889, Arthur Meyer demonstrated that the placenta of Capsicum annuum is the carrier of the acrid principle (capsaicin). This isolation was effected by extracting with boiling ether, evaporating the solvent, mixing the residue with oil of sweet almonds (to retain the red coloring matter). extracting with 70 per cent alcohol, evaporating and dissolving the residue in solution of caustic potash free from carbonate, filtering and passing into the filtrate carbonic acid to saturation. After standing for some days the capsaicin crystallizes out and is purified by washing with water and cold benzin. This method (which is that of Thresh) yielded 0.9 per cent of capsaicin in 110 Gm. of placenta, obtained from 5000 Gm. of red pepper (Amer. Jour. Pharm., from Pharm. Zeitung). Felletar (1868), also Thresh (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1876), and later Flückiger, isolated a volatile, but non-acrid alkaloid of coniïne-like odor. A very small portion of a crystallizable fat, occurring in white crystalline tufts, and associated with essential oil, to which the odor of capsicum is probably due, was obtained by Flückiger (Phamacognosie, 1891). It had a non-acrid, spicy taste, and resembled parsley oil.

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Capsicum is a pure, energetic, permanent stimulant, producing in large doses vomiting, purging, pains in the stomach and bowels, heat and inflammation of the stomach, giddiness, a species of intoxication, and an enfeebled condition of the nervous power. The infusion is much used in colds, catarrh, hoarseness, etc. In atonic dyspepsia and catarrhal gastritis it stimulates the nerves of the stomach, promotes the secretion of the digestive juices, and assists peristaltic motion. As an internal remedy some have advanced the theory that it is destroyed during digestion. Perhaps, when ingested with food, this may be partially true, but, if so, how do we account for its remarkable activity in sustaining the nervous system when given in delirium tremens, and the power it has in steadying the patient and promoting sound sleep? That its effects are partly due to its stimulating action upon the gastric membranes is unquestionable, but its entire effects can not be due to this cause alone. The same may be said of its action in congestive intermittent and remittent fevers. Some have thought to attribute its action in congestive chill to its effects upon the solar plexus. It forms an excellent addition to quinine in intermittents, where there is a deficiency of gastric susceptibility, and it has been asserted that but one-half the quinine will be needed when combined with capsicum.

Capsicum is the very best agent that can be used in delirium tremens. It enables the stomach to take and retain food, and the best form of administration is a strong beef tea, or strong soup made hot with red pepper. There is no danger of giving an overdose, as a wonderful quantity (even a drachm of red pepper) may be swallowed with evident pleasure and without ill results by a confirmed dipsomaniac. In the atonic dyspepsia of dipsomania it takes the place of alcoholic stimulants, removing the craving for alcoholics and sense of sinking at the pit of the stomach, prevents the morning sickness and vomiting, restores gastric tone and promotes the digestion of wholesome food. It should be administered whenever the desire for drink comes on. Prof. Locke recommends for delirium tremens doses of 10 to 40 grains of capsicum every 3 hours, or liberal doses of compound tincture of myrrh and capsicum. When the craving for drink occurs he administers 20 drops of the following in water: Rx Comp. tinct. of myrrh, fl℥j; specific nux vomica, flʒss. Mix.

Capsicum is said to reduce irritation and increase capillary activity in chronic renal congestion. It affects the bladder and rectum similarly and may accordingly be a remedy for diarrhoea, constipation, piles, and in dysentery, where the stools are bloody, the mucus tenacious, with tenesmus and burning, and associated with tenesmic action of the bladder. These cases are those in which there is a lax habit of body with feeble digestion. Other indicated remedies may be given with it. For hemorrhoids, with torpor, constipation, or relaxation, it is a good remedy. Prof. Locke suggests for this state, when not recent nor associated with rectal burning: Rx Capsicum., gr. ij; aloes, gr. ¼. Mix. Make 1 pill.

Capsicum should not be forgotten in low fevers, where there is dryness and constriction of the tissues, and the tongue is dry and harsh and there is but little buccal or salivary secretion. Here it is a very valuable adjuvant to other indicated drugs. Though a stimulant, the general circulation is but little increased by capsicum. Paralytic states, without organic lesions, and with great digestive and nervous torpor, are often greatly improved by capsicum. In Asiatic cholera and angina pectoris, with cold extremities, cool perspiration, and great nervous prostration, it is asserted a saving agent.

Capsicum meets the debility of young and old, but is particularly useful in old people when the body-heat is low, vitality depressed, and reaction sluggish. Tired, painful muscles, stiffened joints, and relaxation of any part are common conditions in the elderly that are, in a measure, rectified by capsicum. Homoeopathists suggest its use in pneumonia when abscesses threaten. Flatulence in dyspeptic states may be dispelled by capsicum.

Ɣ A preparation made by adding ½ ounce of powdered capsicum and 2 drachms of salt, to ½ pint each, of vinegar and water, has been found an excellent anti-emetic, in all cases of vomiting or nausea. To be given in tablespoonful doses as often as required. It has received the name of ANTI-EMETIC DROPS. Capsicum has been also used in spasmodic affections, passive hemorrhages, especially uterine, and, when combined with the compound powder of ipecacuanha will, in many instances, promptly arrest hemorrhage after parturition.

Externally, the infusion and tincture have been found valuable as a stimulating gargle in the ulcerated throat of scarlatina, or in chronic cynanche tonsillaris; also as a counter-irritant, as an application to indolent ulcers, in chronic ophthalmia, and in chronic or indolent ulceration of the cornea. If used early in tonsillitis, with relaxation, it may abort the trouble, but if it does not its use should be discontinued until the active inflammation has subsided. Hoarseness, from atony of the vocal cords, is relieved by it, and it is a remedy for relaxed uvula. It enters into various tinctures and liniments. Ɣ The concentrated tincture of capsicum has been highly recommended in the treatment of chilblains and toothache. In the former, a piece of sponge or flannel must be saturated with it, and rubbed well over the seat of the chilblain, until a strong tingling and electrical feeling is produced. This application should be continued daily, until the disease is removed; relief will be experienced on the very first application, and frequently there will be a total removal of the disease after the second or third application. This, however, will depend upon the severity of the case.

Powdered capsicum, sprinkled inside the stockings, was a favorite prescription with Prof. Scudder for cold feet. This medicine possesses an extraordinary power in removing congestion by its action upon the nerves and circulation; if the skin is not broken, it never causes excoriation by rubbing with it. For toothache from dental caries, place 1 or 2 drops of the tincture on cotton, and apply to the affected part; the relief will be immediate. Tinctura Capsici Concentrata is prepared by macerating 4 ounces of capsicum in 12 fluid ounces of rectified spirit for 7 days; then filter.

The ethereal oil of capsicum, prepared by the evaporation of a saturated ethereal tincture of the pods, is sometimes used as a rubefacient. It is of a brilliant yellowish color, with a peculiar odor and aromatic taste, and filled with crystals of solid fatty oil of curious dendroid forms (see Oleoresina Capsici).

Capsicum may be used wherever a pure stimulant is indicated, in all cases of diminished vital action, and may be combined beneficially with other remedies, in order to promote their action, as emetics, cathartics, diaphoretics, tonics, etc. Dose of the powder, from 1 to 6 grains; of the tincture, from ½ to 1 fluid drachm.

Specific Indications and Uses.—Marked depression and debility; atonic dyspepsia of drunkards; delirium tremens; colic, with abdominal distension; congestive chills; cold extremities, with blanched lips and small, weak pulse; congestion, with capillary atony; tongue dry and harsh, and buccal and salivary secretions scanty, in fevers; chronic hemorrhoids, from relaxation.

King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.