This is also called Cayenne-pepper, African-pepper, Spanish-pepper, pod-pepper, etc. It is the dried fruit of the capsicum plant, of which several species are cultivated in tropical countries, especially South and Central America, East Indies and Africa. Many varieties of plants have been produced by cultivation; they are either herbaceous or shrubby, and produce from the forks of the branches from one to three flowers with a yellowish, whitish, but generally reddish corolla, yielding an incompletely two or three-celled berry containing numerous flat seeds. The importation of capsicum to the United States is large. The only kind of capsicum permitted by the British and U. S. Pharmacopoeia is known in commerce as African or bird-pepper, and in Great Britain as chillies and Guinea-pepper, The odor of the fruit is peculiar, its taste extremely hot and biting. Another kind is known in England as pod-pepper, but also sold as chillies, and is the kind recognized by the German Pharmacopoeia. The paprika used in Hungary is another, but inferior variety. Powdered capsicum is of dark orange-red color, is very irritating, and sometimes attacked by insects. The odor of capsicum is in part due to- a volatile oil consisting chiefly of stearopten and having a parsley-like odor.


This is an alkaloid obtained from the capsicum or Cayenne-pepper. It has a burning taste, and when quite pure crystallizes. It forms crystallizable salts with acetic, nitric and sulphuric acids. The name of capsicin has been given to various liquid or soft preparations, all of which were more or less impure. The fiery principle, which was isolated by J. C. Thresh (1876), who found it to be a crystallizable body which has been called capsaicin, is with difficulty obtained pure. It is present in small quantities only, and intimately associated with a red fatty matter which consists chiefly of palmitic acid. Capsicol, separated by Buchheim, is a red oily liquid containing the active principle. Capsaicin is colorless, melts at 59° C. (138.2° P.), volatilizes at 115° C. (239° F.) with extremely irritating vapors and dissolves in alcohol, fixed oils, etc., not in water. For the purpose of admixing a small quantity of the properties of capsicum to ginger-ale extracts, we propose to employ either the capsicum extract or tincture of capsicum, which serves the purpose. There is no need for other preparations made of capsicum.

Adulterations Of Capsicum And Its Detection

Capsicum is in disrepute among first-class carbonators, as it is known to be adulterated with various materials of which some are deleterious and others harmless. Corn meal was found to be the chief adulterant; up to 50 per cent, ha? been detected. Pure capsicum contains no starch, and a portion boiled with a little water, and treated with two or three drops of tincture of iodine should produce no blue coloration. The ash should be white, and amount to about 4.5 per cent. The ash in most of the adulterated specimens is red or brown, and amounts sometimes to 7 or 8 per cent. The color is probably due to some red ochre put m to color the mixture. Turmeric is also used as a coloring agent, and can be detected by treating the suspected drug, first with alcohol and then with ammonia. This treatment will notchange the color of pure capsicum, but it produces a blood-red color with turmeric. Ground mustard husks, which have been colored red with lead, are also an adulterant.