Capsicum minimum. N.O. Solanaceae.
Synonym ► African Pepper, Bird Pepper, Guinea Pepper and Chillies.
Habitat ► There are many varieties of the shrub, which is indigenous to India, Africa and South America.
Features ► The oblong-conical shaped pods are fiery to the taste, and the numerous seeds contain a large amount of oil, which has a similar effect on the palate. The fruit itself, however, differs widely in size, colour and strength. The yellowish-red product of Sierra Leone is the most pungent, the long, bright red type from Japan being much milder.
(Capsicum annum is cultivated in Hungary, and fed to canaries in order to improve the appearance of the plumage. Known as “tasteless Cayenne,” this is quite free from pungency.)
Part used ► Dried, ripe fruit. Used for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Action ► Cayenne is acknowledged as the finest stimulant in the herbal materia medica, and is, in addition, carminative, tonic, diaphoretic and rubifacient.
As a pure stimulant, the administration of Cayenne produces a natural warmth and uniform circulation, and in dyspepsia and flatulence the carminative effect is especially noticeable. As a diaphoretic it may be used whenever it is desired to open the pores and bring about increased perspiration.
Capsicum is a constituent of many of the herbal compounds, including the well-known composition powders, Thomson’s formula for which will be found in the appropriate section of this book. The dose of the powdered fruit is 5-20 grains.
Coffin is a champion of the virtues of Capsicum, one of his reasons being that, unlike most of the stimulants of allopathy, it is not a narcotic.