Capsicum fruit (Capsicum, U.S.P.) is the dried ripe fruit of Capsicum minimum, Roxb. (N.O. Solanaceae), a small, erect shrub, indigenous to Southern India, and cultivated in Africa (Sierra Leone and Zanzibar), South America, and other tropical countries. The fruits are of a dull, orange-red colour, and oblong-conical shape; obtuse at the apex, and varying in length from 12 to 20 millimetres, but not exceeding 6 millimetres in diameter. The drug has an extremely pungent, fiery taste. The outer epidermis of the pericarp of capsicum fruit consists of rectangular cells, with straight, thick, yellow, sparsely pitted walls, abutting on parenchymatous tissue, the cells of which contain droplets of red oil, and have thin cellulose walls. The inner epidermis exhibits groups of sclerenchymatous cells, alternating with bands of thin-walled parenchymatous cells, the whole forming a very characteristic tissue. The epidermis of the seed is composed of very large, sinuous cells, with thin outer walls, but strongly thickened and pitted radial and inner walls. The official capsicum fruit is identified by its small size, dull orange-red colour, long slender straight peduncle and small calyx. The fruit of C. annuum, Linn., which is imported from India in numerous varieties, and known in commerce as chillies, is larger, has a thicker curved peduncle and a dissepiment which often does not extend to the apex of the fruit. Japanese chillies are much brighter in colour than the official fruit, more carefully freed from calyx and peduncle, and less pungent. They are largely used for preparing the powdered cayenne pepper of trade, but should not be substituted for the official drug, as they are not derived from the same plant. Powdered capsicum is distinguished from powdered Japanese chillies by the characters of the epidermis and hypoderma of the pericarp. In powdered capsicum the epidermal cells are larger and irregularly polygonal, with evenly thickened walls traversed by numerous well-marked pits. Below the epidermis are several rows of cuticularised collenchymatous cells. Powdered Japanese chillies possess epidermal cells with strongly thickened walls and radiate cavities, and the cuticle is not visibly striated. Below the epidermis there is a hypoderma consisting of a single layer of polygonal cells with rather thick, beaded, cuticularised walls. On incineration, powdered capsicum fruit should yield not more than 6 per cent. of ash, indicating freedom from adulteration with inorganic substances.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of capsicum fruit is the crystalline colourless, pungent principle, capsaicin, or capsicutin, C18H18NO3, of which about 0.02 per cent. is present. It is secreted by the outer walls of the epidermal cells of, and occurs chiefly in the dissepiment which divides the fruit into two cavities. It melts at 63°, and is volatile at higher temperatures, the vapour being extremely irritating. The fruit also contains a fixed oil, red colouring matter, and a liquid alkaloid, none of which is pungent. It yields from 20 to 25 per cent. of alcoholic extract, and the seeds may contain traces of starch.
Action and Uses.—Capsicum fruit is given internally as a powerful stimulant and carminative to the alimentary canal, especially in atonic dyspepsia and flatulence. Externally, capsicum is an irritant, producing warmth, redness, and vesication. It is used in rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia, and generally where counter-irritation is indicated. For internal use, tincture of capsicum is administered with bitters and tonics; it is sometimes added to tannin or rose gargles for pharyngitis and relaxed sore throat. Some dipsomania cures contain capsicum, cinchona, and nux vomica. When its pungent taste is objectionable, powdered capsicum may be dispensed in pill form, with compound rhubarb pill or reduced iron. The tincture is too weak for external use: for this purpose a strong tincture is prepared (Tinctura Capsici Fortior), and a liniment. These are used by painting on the skin, or sprinkling on lint or spongio-piline and applying to the part. An ointment of capsicum is prepared for rubbing over joints. Capsicum wool has been found of service as an application to the chest; it has a mild rubefacient action on the skin. Capsicum plasters are prepared in several forms: very small plasters on very thin felt for application to the gums as a counter-irritant; capsicum plasters with a soap basis prepared with oleoresin of capsicum, and the same, self-adhesive, in rubber combination for application to the back, chest, or wherever counterirritation may be required.
Dose.—3 to 6 centigrams (1/2 to 1 grain).
- Emplastrum Capsici, B.P.C.—CAPSICUM PLASTER. 1 (liquid extract) in 10.
- Capsicum plaster is a rubefacient and mild counter-irritant used for rheumatism and lumbago. When freshly prepared this plaster is of a bright orange colour, but it loses colour on keeping.
- Emplastrum Capsici, U.S.P.—CAPSICUM PLASTER, U.S.P.
- Oleoresin of capsicum, 25 centigrams; adhesive plaster, spread on fabric, a sufficient quantity. The oleoresin of capsicum is painted over an area 15 centimetres square of the adhesive plaster and a margin left round the edges.
- Emplastrum Capsici Elasticum, B.P.C.—RUBBER CAPSICUM PLASTER. 1 (liquid extract) in 10.
- Extractum Capsici Liquidum, B.P.C.—LIQUID EXTRACT OF CAPSICUM. 2 in 1.
- This liquid extract requires dilution with 6 to 10 parts of alcohol for external use, as a rubefacient; 10 per cent. of castor oil or oleic acid may be added to reduce irritation.
- Fluidextractum Capsici, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF CAPSICUM.
- Capsicum, in No. 50 powder, 100; alcohol (95 per cent.), to 100; Average dose.—5 centimils (0.05 milliliters) (1 minim).
- Gossypium Capsici, B.P.C.—CAPSICUM WOOL. 1 (liquid extract) in 10.
- Capsicum wool is used as a rubefacient and counter-irritant for application to the chest in bronchial inflammations, to rheumatic joints, etc. Its effect is increased by moistening the wool with an alcoholic liquid, and covering with oiled silk.
- Linimentum Capsici, B.P.C.—LINIMENT OF CAPSICUM. 7 (stronger tincture) in 20.
- Liniment of capsicum is rubefacient and counter-irritant, and is used in chest affections, rheumatism, lumbago, and sciatica. It is applied on flannel over the larynx to relieve laryngitis and loss of voice. A mixture of equal quantities of Linimentum Capsici, Linimentum Camphorae Ammoniatum, and Linimentum Belladonnae forms an excellent application for unbroken chilblains.
- Linimentum Capsici Compositum, B.P.C.—COMPOUND LINIMENT OF CAPSICUM. Syn.—Liquor Capsici Compositus; Compound Solution of Capsicum. 1 in 10.
- Compound liniment of capsicuom is a rubefacient and counter-irritant, similar in its properties to Linimentum Capsici. This preparation closely resembles the Linimentum Capsici Compositum of the Austrian Pharmacopoeia.
- Oleoresina Capsici, B.P.C.—OLEORESIN OF CAPSICUM. Syn.—Capsicin.
- Oleoresin of capsicum is used internally in pills in atonic dyspepsia as a gastric and intestinal stimulant. Externally, it is employed as Unguentum Oleoresinae Capsici, for its powerful rubefacient and counter-irritant properties. Dose.—3 to 8 milligrams (1/20 to 1/8 grain).
- Oleoresina Capsici, U.S.P.—OLEORESIN OF CAPSICUM, U.S.P.
- Capsicum, in No. 40 powder, 100; acetone, a sufficient quantity, The capsicum is extracted with the acetone, and the fatty matter removed. Average dose.—30 milligrams (1/2 grain).
- Tinctura Capsici, B.P.—TINCTURE OF CAPSICUM.
- Capsicum, in No. 20 powder, 5; alcohol (70 per cent.), 100; Tincture of capsicum is used internally as a carminative in dyspepsia. It is given to alcoholics to allay the craving. For external use the stronger tincture is more suitable. Dose.—3 to 10 decimils (0.3 to 1.0 milliliters) (5 to 15 minims).
- Tinctura Capsici, U.S.P.—TINCTURE OF CAPSICUM, U.S.P.
- Capsicum, in No. 50 powder, 10; alcohol, sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—5 decimils (0.5 milliliters) (8 minims).
- Tinctura Capsici Fortior, B.P.C.—STRONGER TINCTURE OF CAPSICUM. Syn.—Turnbull's Tincture of Capsicum. 1 in 3.
- Applied externally as a counter-irritant for lumbago, rheumatism, and unbroken chilblains (see also Linimentum Capsici). It is also used to promote the growth of hair. Dose.—1/2 to 2 decimils (0.05 to 0.2 milliliters) (1 to 3 minims).
- Unguentum Capsici, B.P.—CAPSICUM OINTMENT.
- Capsicum fruit, bruised, 24; spermaceti, 12; olive oil, by weight, 88. Heat the spermaceti and olive oil on a water-bath till the former is melted; then add the capsicum fruit and allow to digest for one hour, stirring occasionally. Finally, strain out the insoluble residue, and set aside to cool, without stirring. Capsicum ointment is used as a counter-irritant for application with friction to chronic rheumatic joints. This ointment is semi-liquid at summer temperatures, and a preparation of more satisfactory consistence may be obtained by replacing 6 of the olive oil with an equal weight of spermaceti.
- Unguentum Oleoresinae Capsici, B.P.C.—CAPSICUM OLEORESIN OINTMENT. 18 in 100.
- Unguentum Oleoresinae Capsici, Compositum, B.P.C.—COMPOUND CAPSICUM OLEORESIN OINTMENT. Syn.—Chillie Paste. 1 in 10.
- This ointment, containing oleoresin of capsicum, menthol, chloral hydrate, and camphor, with soft paraffin, is a valuable counter-irritant in chronic rheumatism and in pulmonary complaints, etc. If it be found too strong for tender skins Unguentum Oleoresinae Capsici Dilutum may be prescribed.
- Unguentum Oleoresinae Capsici Dilutum, B.P.C.—DILUTED CAPSICUM OLEORESIN OINTMENT.
- Capsicum oleoresin ointment, 1; benzoated lard, 1.
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.