Medicinal value of chillies
Did you know a green pepper is an unripe pepper and that is why old people often complain about indigestion but not when eating a red, yellow or orange sweet pepper which is ripe?
Chilies and Red Peppers - Capsicum species
The Capsicums are "New World" spices that are represented by many diverse species and cultivars, including chilies, paprika and red peppers. The quantities of the various phytochemicals found in capscums vary considerably between the different cultivars. Chillies, for example, tend to have very high concentrations of capsicin which is the phytochemical that given plants of this genus their strong flavour and irritant effects. Paprika and sweet red peppers contain smaller quantities of capsaicin, but higher concentrations of another important phytochemical called casiate. There has to date been relatively little research into the effects of Capsicums of chronic diseases, but new research showing a positive effect on liver cancer is likely to prompt further investigation into their prophylactic effects.
Capsaicin, the antioxidant phytochemical found in particulary high quantities in chilies, has important anti-tumourigenic properties, specifically as powerful inducer of apoptosis in liver cancer cells.
Both capsaicin and capsiate raise the body´s metobolic rate and increase the rate of fat "burn-off". Capsaicin has the additional benefit of suppressing the apetite through its direct effect on the brain´s satiety centre and by simulating the release of anoretic hormones, like cholecystokinin, by the intestines.
A considerable body of research has shwon capsicums to be very effective in the treatment of acute and chronic pain - notably the pan associated with shingles and arthritis. With respect to this property, it is likely that capsaicin acts as a counter-irritant (when applied in the form of a cream) or a stimulant of the body´s natural endorphin painkillers. There is also some evidence that chillies can help to control the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.