A Brief Introduction to Chili Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and Capsaicin
by Emirhan Turan, 31 May, 2020
Capsicum annuum mostly known with Chili pepper cultivars belongs to Solanaceae family that has nearly 2700 species. Capsicum annuum is a species native to the American continent. Seeds were brought to Europe and it began to be planted extensively in Portuguese colonies in Africa, India, and Asia. Their popularity continues to grow across the world due to their easy cultivation, sharp taste, and attractive appearance. In recent years, Capsicum annuum became popular for those who like to grow their herbs and plants indoors in pots. Chili peppers grow well in warm temperatures, in fresh, humus-rich and well-drained soil with plenty of sunlight.
Chili pepper has various cultivars which are popular and originated in different countries such as, Aleppo (Turkey and Syria), Fish pepper (Caribbean), Friggitelli (Mediterranean), Hungarian wax (Hungary), Jalapeño (Mexico), Anaheim (North America), Cheongyang (Korea), Guntur Sannam (India).
Capsaicin is a phenylpropanoid and the ingredient in hot chili peppers that makes them hot. It is being used as an insect repellent in organic production to avoid treating their plants with synthetic chemicals. Capsaicin is used both outdoors and indoors to repel (not to kill) aphids, lace bugs, leafhoppers, spider mites, whiteflies, and other insects. Capsaicin can be applied to vegetables and fruits to prevent insects from laying their eggs; preventing insects from reproducing limits their damage to leaves, fruits, and vegetables.
Capsicum was used in traditional medicine for arthritis, rheumatism, stomach aches, skin rashes, dog/snake bites, and flesh wounds treatment. Capsicum became popular after identifying Capsaicinoids (mainly capsaicin) and flavonoids (mainly quercetin and luteolin). In recent years, capsaicin was used in creams as pain relief, and capsules for weight-loss. Capsicum powder was found effective in decreasing the intensity of dyspeptic symptoms, capsaicin being the active ingredient.
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