This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Piper Indicum Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Capsicum Pharm. Paris. Piper indicum, brazili-anum, guineense, calecuticum, hispanicum, & lufi-tanicum, quibusdam. Capsicum siliquis longis pro-pendentibus Tourn. Siliquastrum plinii J. Bauh. Capsicum annuum Linn. Capsicum or Guinea pepper: long, roundish, taper, bright red pods, divided into two or three cells full of small whitish seeds: the fruit of an annual plant, with square stalks, oblong acuminated leaves, and white flowers growing in their bosoms divided into five segments in form of a star; a native of the East and West Indies, and raised in some of our gardens.
Aq. pimento Pb. Lond.
Aq. piperis jamaicenfis Pl Ed.
Aq. piper, jamaic. spirit. Ph. Ed.
Ol. effent. pip. jamaic. Ph. Ed.
This fruit, when fresh, discovers to the organs of smell, a penetrating acrid halitus, which in drying is dissipated: its taste, whether fresh or dry, is extremely pungent and acrimonious, setting the mouth as it were on fire, and producing a painful burning vellication of long continuance, like that occasioned by arum root, but more of the warm aromatic kind. It gives out its pungency to rectified spirit, together with a pale yellowish red tincture: the spirit, gently distilled off, has no considerable impregnation from the capsicum: the remaining extract is insupportably fiery.
Capsicum is sometimes given, in minute quantities, as one of the highest stimulants, in cold sluggish phlegmatic temperaments, in some paralytic cases, in relaxations and insensibility of the stomach, and for promoting the efficacy of aloetic medicines and the deobstruent gums in uterine disorders. It is used principally at table: a species of it, called in the Weft Indies bird-pepper, is the basis of the powder brought from thence under the name of Cayenne pepper. It is observable that this fruit, perhaps the strongest of the aromatic stimulants, is used freely, as is said, by the natives even of the warm climates: possibly these pungent antisep-tic kinds of substances may there be more salu-brious than they are, in general, among us, as they seem qualified to refill or correct: the putredinous colliquation of the humours which immoderate heat produces.
A singular use of this substance is mentioned in two letters from John Collins, Esq. of the island of St. Vincent, inserted in the second volume of the Medical Communications. In a peculiar kind of angina maligna prevailing among children in that island, which began with black-ness, sloughiness and ulceration of the fauces and tonsils without fever, and proved extremely fatal, he was induced, from a letter published by a Mr. Stewart of Grenada, to exhibit the following remedy. " Take two table-spoonfuls "of small red pepper, or three of the common "Cayenne pepper, and two tea-spoonfuls of fine "salt; beat them into a paste, and then add to "them half a pint of boiling water. Strain off "the liquor when cold, and add to it half a pint "of very sharp vinegar. Let a table-spoonful "of this liquor be taken every half hour as a "dose for an adult; diminishing it in proportion "for children." The extreme acrimony of this preparation rendered it difficult to be exhibited, and its effects were to inflame and excoriate the throat; but by this the sloughs were entirely cleansed away, the ulcers brought to a healing state, and the disease removed. It is to be observed, that success was to be expected chiefly when the medicine was administered in its early stage, before the fever had come on, while the power of swallowing was little impaired, and the affection seemed nearly a local one. Its use is farther confirmed by a letter from Mr. James Stephens of St. Chriftopher's to Dr. Duncan, printed in the Med. Comment. for 1787.
It appears likewise that the capsicum has been given with great success in the intermit-tents prevalent in Guiana, and for the suppres-sion of vomitings in putrid fevers.