Herbal uses for Chili peppers.

The following text is from the book "Back to Eden" by Jethro Kloss. The original edition is copyright 1939 by Jethro Kloss. The Library of Congress Catalog Card Number is 75-585.

This disclaimer is printed in the book:

This renowned guidebook by the late Jethro Kloss is presented solely as a work of historical and cultural interest. The procedures and remedies outlined are the opinions and suggestions of the author only, based on his nearly forty years of experience. 

They are still faithfully followed by members of the Kloss family as well as by the multitude of persons who long have looked to Jethro Kloss and his published works for aid. Nevertheless, neither the publisher, the Kloss family, nor any other party associated with the publisher presents this work as a prescription for other persons, nor makes any representation concerning the physiological effects of any of the procedures or remedies suggested. As is emphasized elsewhere in the book, the services of a competent professional medical practitioner should be sought in every case where any indication whatsoever suggests the need of such services.

The remaining text is the full article on Capsicum Annuum (chili peppers) from chapter 29 "HERBS (Their Description and Use in Disease)"


Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum. Common Names: Cayenne pepper, red pepper, capsicum, Spanish pepper, bird pepper, pod pepper, chilies, African pepper, chili pepper, African red pepper, cockspur pepper, American red pepper, garden pepper. Medicinal Properties: Pungent stimulant, tonic, sialagogue, alterative.

Red pepper is one of the most wonderful herb medicines we have. We do wonderful things with it that we are not able to do with any other known herb. It should never be classed with black pepper, vinegar, or mustard. These are irritating, while red pepper is very soothing. While red pepper smarts a little, it can be put in an open Wound, either in a fresh wound or an old ulcer, and it is very healing instead of irritating; but black pepper, mustard, and vinegar are irritating to an open wound and do not heal Red pepper is one of the most stimulating herbs known to man with no harm or reaction.

It is effective as a poultice for rheumatism, inflammation, pleurisy, and helpful also if taken internally for these. For sores and wounds it makes a good poultice. It is a stimulant when taken internally as well as being antispasmodic. Good for kidneys, spleen, and pancreas. Wonderful for lockjaw. Will heal a sore, ulcerated stomach, while black pepper, mustard, or vinegar will irritate it. Red pepper is a specific and.very effective remedy in yellow fever, as well as other fevers and may be taken in capsules followed by a glass of water.

It is one part of a most wonderful liniment, which may be made as follows:

2 oz. gum myrrh
1 oz. golden seal
1/2 oz. African red pepper

Put this into a quart of rubbing alcohol, or take a pint of raspberry vinegar and a pint of water. Add the alcohol or vinegar to the powder. Let it stand for a week or ten days, shaking every day. This can be used wherever liniment is used or needed. It is very healing to wounds, bruises, sprains, scalds, burns, and sunburns, and should be applied freely. Wonderful results are obtained in pyorrhea by rinsing the mouth with the liniment or applying the liniment On both sides of the gums with a little cotton or gauze.


"From the Greek kapto, I bite-a biting plant The best Capsicum is obtained from Africa and South America, one province of the latter, Cayenne, giving its name to the article. It can be produced in good quality in the Southern States, especially those that lie beyond the southern line of Tennessee. It grows abundantly and of excellent quality in the West Indies, where the negroes count it almost a certain remedy for nearly all their maladies. They have no fears of fatal effects from fevers, even the terrible and devastating yellow fever, if they can get plenty of Capsicum. They not only drink a tea of it, but they chew and swallow the pods one after another, as we should so many doughnuts, and never dream of it doing them any injury. Dr. Thomas, of London, who practiced a long time in the West Indies, found cayenne pepper an almost certain remedy for yellow fever, and almost every other form of human malady. There is, perhaps, no other article which produces so powerful an impression on the animal frame that is so destitute of all injurious properties. It seems almost incapable of abuse, for however great the excitement produced by it, this stimulant prevents that excitement subsiding so suddenly as to induce any great derangement of the equilibrium of the circulation It produces the most powerful impression on the surface, yet never draws a blister; on the stomach, yet never weakens its tone. It is so diffusive in its character that it never produces any local lesion, or induces permanent inflammation.

"Yet its counter excitation is the most salutary kind, and ample in degree. A plaster of cayenne is more efficient in relieving internal inflammation than a fly blister ever was yet I never knew it to produce the slightest vesication though I have often bound it thick as a poultice on the tenderest flesh to relieve rheumatism, pleurisy, etc., which, b>. the aid of an emetic, an enema, and sudorifics, it is sure to do. I have thus cured with it, in a single night, cases of rheumatism that had been for years most distressing. 

Though severe on the tissue to which applied, it is so diffusive that it does not long derange the circulation, but, on the contrary, equalizes it. Thus it is not only stimulant, but antispasmodic, sudorific, febrile, anti-inflammatory, depurating, and restorative. It is powerful to arrest hemorrhage from the mucous membranes. When the stomach is foul, a strong dose of the powder will excite vomiting and an enema of it and lobelia and slippery elm will relieve the most obstinate constipation. 

Taken in powder in cold water it is sure to move not only the internal canal, but all the splanchnic viscera, as the liver, the kidneys, the spleen, and the pancreas, the mesentery, etc. This article, along with lobelia, some good astringent, such as bayberry or sumach leaves, a good bitter, a mucilage, a good sudorific and the vapor bath, must ever constitute the basis of the most effective medication." Standard Guide to Non-Poisonous Herbal Medicine, pp. 52, 53.

"There are several species of Capsicum, but the most prominent are the Capsicum Annuum and the Capsicum Fastigiatum-Guinea or African Bird's Eye Pepper. The last named is the official article, and is possessed of greater medicinal virtue; yet the small American species are nearly its equal. The fruit of the Fastigiatum is quite small, while that of the American species is very much larger and is heart-shaped. The African species is quite a shrub, while the American is more like an herb in appearance. 

Capsicum, strange though it may seem, is not a true pepper. The popular but erroneous idea is that anything that is hot is a pepper, and that therefore Capsicum must belong to the pepper family. The African or small varieties are the most pungent-I should say nearly twice as much so as the others, but owing, I suppose to the American species being cheaper, it is used as a substitute for the African. They both contain a resin and an oil, each of which is very acrid, sharp, and biting. Its properties are completely extracted by 98% alcohol, and to a considerable extent by vinegar or boiling water.

"One of the best LINIMENTS in use is prepared as follows: Boil gently for ten minutes one tablespoonful of cayenne pepper in one pint of cider vinegar. Bottle that hot, unstrained. This makes a powerfully stimulating external application for deep-seated congestions, sprains, etc.

"Capsicum is a pure stimulant, permanent in its action, and ultimately reaching every organ in the body. It creates at first a sensation of warmth, which afterwards becomes intense, and in large doses strongly excites the stomach, which influence can be utilized in the administration of emetics, when the emesis is delayed and needs to be accelerated. For this purpose give a quarter of a teaspoonful in syrup. 

Capsicum, by its sudden and intense stimulation of the stomach, will produce hiccoughs. It acts mainly upon the circulation, but also on the nervous structures. Its influence, which is immediate on the heart, finally extends to the capillaries, giving tone to the circulation, but not increasing the frequency of the pulse so much as giving power to it. In prostrating fevers and putrescent tendencies it may be used in full quantities combined with other suitable agents. It is a good addition to relaxant cathartics, to prevent griping and facilitates their operation when the tissues are in a sluggish condition. 

In cases of constipation, capsicum is efficacious in stimulating the peristaltic motion of the bowels. For this effect, give small doses daily. Of course constipation never can be cured by physic alone. Temporary relief may be obtained from carthartics, but any medicinal efforts must be combined with proper diet in order to effect a permanent cure.

"Capsicum is valuable in all forms of ague by sustaining the portal circulation. In cases of chill, give large doses of cayenne. By a large dose is meant 10 to 15 grains, or a No. O to a No. 00 capsule. Of course some patients require more than others. (A No. O capsule should contain about ten grains, and No. 00 about 15 grains.) In coughs where there is an abundant secretion of mucus in the respiratory passages, capsicum increases the power of expectoration, and thus facilitates its removal In connection with capsicum may be mentioned the slippery elm compound, which is excellent for coughs. 

Cut obliquely into small pieces about the thickness of a match, one ounce or more of slippery elm bark: add a pinch of cayenne, flavor with a slice of lemon, sweeten with sugar, and infuse one pint of boiling water. Take this in small doses, frequently repeated. Let a consumptive patient drink a pint of this each day. It is one of the grandest remedies that can be given, as it combines both stimulating and demulcent properties. As slippery elm is mucilaginous it will roll up the mucus material troubling the patient, and pass it down through the intestines. It is also very nourishing, and possesses wonderful healing properties. For an infant's food mix with an equal quantity of mill`, and leave out the lemon and cayenne.

"Cayenne is good in coughs, torpor of the kidneys, and to arrest mortification A peculiar effect of capsicum is worth mentioning. In Mexico the people are very fond of it, and their bodies get thoroughly saturated with it, and if One of them happens to die on the prairie the vultures will not touch the body on account of its being so impregnated with the capsicum.

"It is good in all forms of low diseases. The key to Success in medicine is stimulation, and capsicum is the great stimulant. There are many languid people who need something to make the fire of life burn more brightly. Capsicum, not whiskey, is the thing to do it. It can be given without stint or measure. It is excellent in yellow fever, black vomit, putrefaction or decay, given frequently in small doses. It is good, also, in asthmatical asphyxia (i.e., when a person cannot get his breath) combined with lobelia in what would be called the lobelia compound. It is good in profound shock. For local application it is, or should be, the base of all stimulating liniments. It is not injurious to the skin, as is turpentine or acetic acid. It is an agent that is seldom used alone. A capsicum tincture may be made as follows:

"Take two ounces of cayenne and macerate for ten to fourteen days in one quart of alcohol. Then strain and bottle. Keep in a warm place while macerating during cold weather.

"A splendid stimulating liniment is made as follows:

Tinct. Cayenne 1 qt.
Castille Soap 2 oz.
Oil of Hemlock Spruce 1/2 oz.
Oil of Origanum 1/2 OZ.
Oil of Cedar 1/2 oz.
Oil of Peppermint 2 OZ.

Shave or scrape the soap very fine, and dissolve in one Pint of water. Stir the oils into the tincture and mix with the soapy solution. A little additional oil of peppermint will greatly increase its efficacy. In a four-ounce bottle put one ounce of lobelia compound (without gum myrrh) and fill the bottle up with the stimulating liniment. Shake this well and after application cover the affected part with a piece of warmed flannel.

"The oil of capsicum represents the stimulating property of the plant in highly concentrated form. It is exceedingly strong, and the dose must be not more than one drop given on sugar. For the relief of toothache, first clean out the cavity of the tooth, then make a small plug of cotton wool saturated with oil of capsicum, which press into the cavity, and it will, in most cases, cure the toothache by its stimulating and antiseptic qualities. The beneficial effect will last for months.

"Having considered the various ingredients in the myrica compound ('composition powder'), we will now pass it under review. The bayberry bark is astringent and stimulant, the ginger root is a diffusive stimulant and antispasmodic, prompt but kindly in its action; the Canada snake root has an influence similar to that of ginger, but is more aromatic, and corrects the acridness of the other ingredients; the prickly ash berry constitutes the peripheral stimulant; and the capsicum is the great arterial stimulant, and imparts energy to the action of the whole compound." Standard Guide to Non-Poisonous Herbal Medicine, pp. 95, 96, 97, 98.


Bayberry Bark 8 oz.
African Ginger 4 oz.
Prickly Ash Berries 1 oz.
Canada Snake Root 3 oz.
African Cayenne 2 drachms

Pass these powders twice through a sifter, and they will be mixed to perfection. For emetic teas, make three pints of composition' two pints of lobelia infusion, and three pints of catnip or peppermint infusion.

"Capsicum (red pepper) is the most pronounced, natural and ideal stimulant known in the entire materia medica. It cannot be equaled by any known agent when a powerful and prolonged stimulant is needed, as in congestive chills, heart failure and other conditions calling for quick action. The entire circulation is affected by this agent and there is no reaction. In this it stands alone as ideal.

"In congested, ulcerated or infectious sore throat it is an excellent agent, but should be combined with myrrh to relieve and remove the morbidity.

"Capsicum is antiseptic and therefore a most valuable agent as a gargle in ordinary sore throat or in diphtheria.

"In uterine hemorrhages it is ideal combined with bayberry and will do more than any other remedy could. Capsicum has the power to arouse the action of the secreting organs and always follows the use of lobelia.

"When there is inactivity of the entire system, as in 'spring fever,' capsicum is indicated. In fact, whenever there is disinclination to activity it is an ideal stimulant, arousing the sluggish organism to action.

"In indigestion where gas is present, it should be given in conjunction with small doses (1 to 5 grains) of lobelia, as capsicum increases the glandular activity of both stomach and intestines.

"In all so-called 'low' fevers, where the temperature is subnormal capsicum is indicated and should be prescribed consistently.

"On the inset of a cold, when there are chills, cold and clammy feelings, the feet damp and cold, capsicum should be taken in full dose (5 to 10 grains). In these cases capsicum is more efficient than quinine and there is no reaction - no undesirable after effects.

"Even in cholera morbus and atonic diarrhea, where stimulants are usually contra-indicated, capsicum is valuable in that it 'tones' up the organs and establishes natural activity.

"In all diseases prostrating in their nature, whether pneumonia, pleurisy or typhoid fever, capsicum is invaluable in the prescription as the toning agent which helps the system to throw off the disease and reestablish equilibrium.

"In all acute conditions where capsicum is indicated, the call is for the maximum dose-from three to ten grains, preferably in tablet form, followed by a large drink of hot water. In chronic and sluggish conditions, the small dose frequently given, is 1 to 3 grains with either hot or cold water.

Capsicum plasters are valuable in pneumonia, pleurisy and other acute congestions. Combine with lobelia and bran or hops. One hour is the maximum time to keep them applied."-The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, pp. 69, 70, 71.

"As the common red pepper of table use, capsicum is well known to almost all people. None know better its virtue than the habitual drinker who considers it his best friend and never fails to use plenty of it in his hot soups when sobering up and soothing his cold and sore stomach after a prolonged spree. Common red pepper may be given safely in capsules and take the place of tablets. In the onset Of chills and colds it is the sovereign remedy." The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, pp. 79, 80.

"Whenever a stimulant is necessary Capsicum should have first consideration. It is indicated in low fevers and prostrating diseases. Capsicum is non-poisonous and there is no reaction to its use. It is the only natural stimulant worth while considering in diarrhea and dysentery with Woody mucus, stools and offensive breath."-The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, p. 143.

"The stimulant. There is no other stimulant known to medical science so natural, so certain and with less reaction following its constant use. Capsicum is indicated in all low fevers and prostrating diseases. Capsicum increases the power of all other agents, helps the digestion when taken with meals, and arouses all the secreting organs. Whenever a stimulant is indicated, capsicum may be given with the utmost safety." The Medicines of Nature, by R. Swinburne Clymer, p. 150. Capsicum, cayenne (red pepper) is not a pepper, no more than water pepper or peppermint. Water pepper is also called smart weed, is very hot but a wonderful medicine.

"Peppermint well known all over the civilized world is very heating, will stimulate like a drink of whiskey, but there is no reaction from it, no bad after effects. It permanently strengthens the whole system. Red pepper does the same. There are a number of other herbs that are very hot which are God-given medicines.

"Capsicum, cayenne, red pepper: This plant is indigenous to the warmer climates, Asia, Africa, and the Southern States. The kind bearing the larger berries grows in the more northern places and is frequently used for culinary purposes.

"The African bird pepper is the purest and best stimulant known. It has a pungent taste, and is the most persistent heart stimulant ever known. It is exceedingly prompt in its effects. Through the circulation, its influence is manifest through the whole body. The heart first, next the arteries, then the capillaries, and the nerves. We have known in cases of apoplexy a bath of hot water and mustard with half a teaspoon of cayenne added and the feet thrust in to give good results, the pressure being removed from the brain by equalizing of the circulation.

"The negroes of the West Indies soak the pods in water, add sugar and the juice of, sour oranges, and drink freely in fevers. Capsicum has a wonderful place in inflammation. We have often been told that it would burn the lining of the stomach, and our medical, as well as lay friends, have at times shown fear at its use. We assure the student that the fear of Capsicum is unfounded. We have used it freely for over a quarter of a century, and therefore feel that our experience is worth more than the opinions of those who know nothing about it experimentally.

"Some twenty years ago we were asked to send something to a lady whom we were told was suffering from pleurisy. After getting what little information we could, we decided to send some African bird pepper, as it was in the early hours of the morning and we were on the prairie and could not get anything in the way of supplies. Being satisfied that there was inflammation, we ordered three number four capsules filled with cayenne to be given every hour until the pains ceased. We were surprised later to learn that the pains had ceased in two and a half hours and no other remedies of any kind had been used, the capsules having been taken in smaller dosage after the pain eased. We were asked what was the wonderful remedy we had sent and when we told the husband of the patient, he said, had they known what was in the capsules, he would not have given them.

"We do not, of course, refer to this case to indicate that capsicum is a cure for pleurisy. We should have used other means as well, had the circumstances permitted. We mention it to show its use in inflammatory conditions.

"It is useful in cramps, pains in the stomach and bowels, and sometimes in constipation will create a heat in the bowels, causing peristaltic action of parts previously contracted. In these later cases it would be well to give it in small doses in the form of warm infusion, from half to one teaspoonful to a cup of boiling water. In typhoid fever, in combination with hepatics and a little golden seal, it will sustain the portal circulation and give much more power to the hepatics used.

"In colds, relaxed throat, cold condition of the stomach, dyspepsia, spasms, palpitation, particularly in the acute stages, give a warm infusion of capsicum in small repeat doses, about two teaspoonfuls every half hour or more frequently if required.

"A little capsicum sprinkled in the shoes will greatly assist in cold feet. Some place a sprinkle in the socks. Don't place too much however; you may find it too warm.

"In hemorrhage from the lungs place your patient in the vapour bath and give an infusion of Capsicum. The pressure will be taken from the ruptured vessels and good results obtained.

"In quinsy and diptheria, apply the tincture of cayenne (red pepper) around the neck. Then place a flannel around the neck wet with the infusion of cayenne and use the infusion internally at the same time freely. ,

"A good liniment for sprains, bruises, rheumatism, and neuralgia may be made as follows:

Tincture Capsicum (Red Pepper) 2 Fluid Ounces
Fluid Extract Lobelia 2 Fluid Ounces
Oil of Wormwood 1 Fluid Drachm
Oil of Rosemary 1 Fluid Drachm
Oil of Spearmint 1 Fluid Drachm

"In setting forth the above uses of this agent, we do not wish the student to consider it a cure-all. Such is not the case; but where a stimulant is needed of this type, it will not fail the physician. It is not used more because its value is not realized." Dominion Herbal College, Ltd. pp. 1, 2, Lesson 5.

"Capsicum is the botanical name of a large genus or family of plants which grow in various countries, as Africa, South America, and the East and West Indies. We use only the African bird pepper, as it retains its heat longer in the system than any other, and is the best stimulant known. It has a pungent taste, which continues for a considerable length of time; when taken into the stomach it produces a pleasant sensation of warmth, which soon diffuses itself throughout the whole system, equalizing the circulation. 

Hence it is so useful in inflammation and all diseases which depend upon a morbid increase of blood in any particular part of the body. According to analysis, cayenne consists of albumen, pectin, (a peculiar gum), starch, carbonate of lime, sesquioxide of iron, phosphate of potash, alum, magnesia, and a reddish kind of oil. In apoplexy we have found it beneficial to put the feet in hot water and mustard, and at the same time give half a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper in a little water. 

This treatment has caused a reaction, taking the pressure of the blood from the brain, and by this means saved the patients. Some may ask, 'Will it produce an inflammatory action?' We say decidedly not, for there is nothing that will take away inflammation so soon. We have used it in every stage of inflammation and never without beneficial results. Mr. Price, the well-known traveler, lays it down as a positive rule of health that the warmest dishes the natives delight in are the most wholesome that strangers can use in the putrid climates of lower Arabia, Abyssinia, Syria, and Egypt. 

Marsden, in his history of Sumatra, remarks that cayenne pepper is one of the ingredients of the dishes of the natives. The natives of the tropical climates make free use of cayenne, and do not find it injurious. Dr. Watkins, who visited the West Indies, says the negroes of those islands steep the pods of the cayenne in hot water, adding sugar and the juice of sour oranges, and drink the tea when sick or attacked with fever. It is very amusing to see the medical men prohibiting the use of cayenne in inflammatory diseases as pernicious, if not fatal, and yet find them recommending it in their standard works for the same diseases.

Dr. Thatcher, in his dispensatory, says: 'There can be but little doubt that cayenne furnishes us with the purest stimulant that can be introduced in the stomach.' Dr. Wright remarks that cayenne has been given for putrid sore throats in the West Indies with the most signal benefit. Paris, in his Pharmacologia, says that the surgeons of the French army have been in the habit of giving cayenne to the soldiers who were exhausted by fatigue. Dr. Fuller, in his prize essay on the treatment of scarlet fever, says: 'Powdered cayenne made into pills with crumbs of bread and given four times a day, three or four each time, is a most valuable stimulant in the last stages of the disease, and is also good in all cases of debility, from whatever cause it may arise.' 

Cayenne given in half teaspoonful doses, mixed with treacle and slippery elm, at night, is a valuable remedy for a cough. Bleeding of the lungs is easily checked by the use of cayenne and the vapor bath. By this means circulation is promoted in every part of the body, and consequently the pressure upon the lungs is diminished, thus affording an opportunity for a coagulum to form around the ruptured vessel. In advocating the use of cayenne we do not wish to be understood that it will cure everything, nor de we recommend it to be taken regularly, whether a stimulant is required or not. Medicines ought to be taken only in sickness. If persons take a cold a dose of cayenne tea will generally remove it, and by this means prevent a large amount of disease. It is an invaluable remedy in the botanic practice." The Model Botanic Guide to Health, pp. 33-34-35.

The above quotations on capsicum are from some of the world's foremost herbalists, therefore are very valuable. I quote these herbalists because I know them to be Christian men and they verify my own practical experience with capsicum.[source]


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