Pepper ( botanical name: Capsicum annuum) it is a plant coming from America of Potato family - Solanaceae - the same as the potato or the tomato. Its cultivation is practically extended all over the world. It is specially important in the East and South of Asia, where its fruit is part of the traditional kitchen, appearing in multitude of dishes. Inside this same species we can find varieties that extent from the sweet pepper to the spicy peppers.
(Among the very known ones we can find the sweet peppers, the chilies, the green peppers, the jalapeño peppers, etc.)
Medicinal properties of pepper
Red peppers constitute an impressive source of vitamin Cand A , being one of the more detoxicant foods in the world . The mature red peppers overcome the citric fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits, etc.) in vitamin C being one of the plants of the world that possesses more quantity, after the acerola (Malpighia glabra L) or the wild rose (Rosa canina) , therefore they are essential for those that look for a depurative diet.
It is equally important this vitamin for the appropriate absorption of iron, calcium or other amino acids. In the same way, they help in the cure of wounds. Their deficiency causes a general weakness in the organism, manifested in symptoms like fragility in the hair, gums that bleed, wounds that never heal, lost of the appetite etc. it is specially interesting to eat this fruit during convalescence , after having passed some illness because they help to increase body defenses.
Red peppers constitute an impressive source of vitamin C, A
and lycopene, being one of the most important detoxifying edible products.
Although vitamin C does not cure common cold or flu it can relieve their symptoms and reduce its duration. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons or grapefruits, peppers, dark green leafy vegetables like cabbage or broccoli, are good sources of this vitamin.
Also , and especially when very mature and red, they contain, as well as tomatoes, a component named lycopene that constitutes, beside the vitamin C, one of the best antioxidant, able to decontaminate the body and liberate it from the negative influence of the free radicals. These can be responsible for many diseases, including cancer development.
Its content in beta carotene is very high, inferior to the carrot, but superior to most of fruits. This element , as well as lycopene, exercises a great antioxidant power. It is also very rich in triptophan, which ingestion helps to combat the symptoms of the depression.
Main curative properties of peppers
They stimulate the appetite, especially the hot red peppers or chilies, although the last ones are not very appropriate for those with a delicate stomach and, in any case, we should abuse of their consumption since , in the long run , they might produce us a gastritis or another affection of the digestive tract. The same sweet peppers have quite a bad fame of being very indigestible, which is not really certain.
It is true that we should chew them well and that many times the bad digestion of this fruit is not due to it , but to its bad combination with other foods. Surprisingly and, in front of this widespread opinion, the raw peppers are more digestible that those cooked. In fact, they certainly favor it by stimulating the gastric and biliary juices.
Even the hot red peppers, used moderately, have been proved to have a positive effect in the prevention of stomach ulcers. Among the appropriate properties of peppers for the digestive tract also mention their anti-diarrhoeic and anti-vomitive properties should also be praised. Therefore their bad legend is completely unjustified.
For their high content in water, they are very appropriate in weigh loss diets, or to treat obesity, provided we eat them raw, in salad, mixed with tomato, lettuce, onion, etc. They are also excellent and extraordinarily light when we eat them roasted directly on embers. Besides their wealth in water, its great abundance in fibers creates in our stomaches a great satiety sensation, which allows our body to be a long time without ingesting another foods, since they are assimilated little by little. Their fiber drags the feces of the intestine, avoiding rotting and acting as a laxative, so that , besides being recommended for people who want to lose weight, they will also be very convenient in all those that suffer from constipation. Equally it has been demonstrated as the ingestion of hot peppers increases the metabolism and helps to eliminate fat.
Properties of cayenne pepper
To give to our meals an exotic touch, we can make use of cayenne which is obtained from the very mature pungent red peppers, once they habe been dried off and ground. The Arab cuisine, for instance, makes a very habitual use of these varieties that, besides giving a very colorful touch to our meals, intensify their flavor and increase one's appetite, maintaining all their alimentary properties at the same time. Although it is necessary to remember the use of these preparations with sensitive stomaches.
Paprika and red hot peppers, for their content in salicilates and capsicine, possess analgesic properties, being very appropriate to calm the pains of the rheumatic illnesses, neuralgias or postoperative pains. An external popular remedy consists in mixing paprika with some salt and dissolving it in water. Placing it with a gauze above the aching articulations during one hour, more or less, it will alleviate the pain.
A detail of the leaves and the fruits
There are many creams that contain capsaicine to apply them in external use, in the treatment of the pain or affections of the skin, as psoriasis, herpes, etc. Sometimes they produce adverse reactions and they should be used with caution, especially avoiding the contact with the eyes, which will produce an intense pain. A better way to get its effects is ingesting these foods in our meals. Pungent peppers have been used and they are continued using thoroughly as natural remedies. They are used in cases of bronchial congestion, as expectorants to liberate the lungs from mucosities, arthritis, etc.