Capsicum annuum

scientific name: 
Capsicum annuum L.
Capsicum frutescens L.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Annual shrub densely branching.  Leaf with thin petiole, either single or in pairs, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, with acuminate tip; flowers solitary or two or moreper node, 5-petals, whitish-green or whitish-yellow; fruit 1.5- 3.5 cm in diameter, ellipsoid-lanceolate or lanceolate with acute tip, crinkled, red, green, yellow or orange; seeds cream or yellowish.


Jiménez,17,JBSD Balland,033,JBSD


  leaf, heated and greased in fat, applied locally1-3

ganglionar inflammation:

  leaf, heated and greased in fat, applied locally1-2

The fruit ofCapsicum annuum is widely used for human consumption.

TRAMIL research28

For boils and ganglionary inflammation:

Wash injury with boiled water and soap, apply 2-4 grams of leaf to affected area.

Note: The popular practice of greasing in fat probably facilitates extraction of the active principle with the rubefacient effect -i.e. capsaicin-, but it carries the risk of overadded infection.

According to published and other information:

The use for boils and ganglionary inflammation is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Do not apply leaf for more than three minutes after local erythema (reddening) appears (normal reaction).

For topical application, strict hygiene measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

Self-medication should not be used in cases of boils or carbuncles on the face or neck where there is a risk of septicemia.

Adverse interaction with barbituric medicines has been documented, therefore ingestion of any plant part should be avoided by people taking these or other medicines metabolized in the liver.

The fruit powder may cause reactions of skin hypersensitivity.

TRAMIL Research30

The fresh leaves (0.6 g vegetal mass in hot vegetal oil) were administered topically (patch with 0.6 mL on 6 sq cm of shaved skin) to New Zealand rabbits (3 females), in Draize’s test. There was no edema or erythema during 72 hours of observation. 

TRAMIL Research31

The fresh leaves in hot oil were administered topically (patch of 0.6 g of vegetal mass on shaved skin, 4 x 3 cm, during 24 hours) to Wistar rats (5 females and 5 males), in the topical acute toxicity test. There was no mortality. No adverse sign was detected during 14 days of observation. There was no histological damage of organs. 

The hydroalcoholic extract (1:1) from the aerial parts by intraperitoneal administration to mice showed an LD50 = 0.375 g/kg19.

The aqueous and methanol-chloroform (2:1) extracts of the fruit with a concentration of 100 mg/plate did not show mutagenic activity in the Ames test with TA98 and TA100 strains, with and without metabolic activation20.  The ethanolic extract (95%) with a concentration of 1.85 mg/plate, in the same experimental model with TA98 and TA1535 showed mutagenic effects in strains with metabolic activation21.

The ethanolic extract from the fruit by intraperitoneal and oral administration to mice (200 mg/kg) maximized the action of barbiturics22.

The fruit may cause slight gastric irritation23 and at high doses may even lead to ulcers24.

The fruit powder in contact with the skin of exposed workers has caused sensitization25.

Topical creams containing capsaicin, available in 0.025% and 0.075% concentrations26, have induced local burning sensation and may lead to allergic reactions27.

Species of the Capsicum genus administered orally may inhibit the hepatic microsomal enzyme system.  Consequently, due care should be exercised if taken jointly with barbiturics, due to an acute poisoning risk22. (e n:  this enzyme system blockage will apply to the majority of medicines that are normally metabolized in the liver, for example the nifedipine group.)

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The leaf contains saponins: capsicoside5; phenylpropanoids: chlorogenic acid6; flavonoids: cynaroside, luteolin glycosides7; steroidal alkaloids: solanine5.

The fruit has been extensively studied and contains, among other components: carotenoids, Vitamin C; amides: capsaicin and derivatives8.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of fruit9: calories: 289; water: 9.5%; proteins: 14.8%; fats: 13%; carbohydrates: 55.7%; fibers: 20.9%; ash: 7%; minerals: calcium: 177 mg; phosphorous: 345 mg; iron: 23.6 mg; sodium: 34 mg; potassium: 2344 mg; carotene: 36362 µg; thiamine: 0.64 mg; riboflavin: 1.74 mg; niacin: 15.32 mg; ascorbic acid: 71 mg.

TRAMIL Research29

The crushed fresh leaves or its juice, in vitro (0.1 g crushed material or 100 µL of juice/well), did not show any activity against Staphylococcus aureus(ATCC15006).

The ethanolic extract (80%) from the dried leaf (0.5 mL/plate) showed antifungal activity on Trichophyton mentagrophytes in agar medium10, unlike the aqueous extract from the dried leaf (1 mL/plate), which was also inactive against Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum canis and M. gypseum11.

The aqueous extract from the dried aerial parts (3.30 mL/L) showed stimulant activity in vitro in rat uterus12.

The aqueous extract from the fruit, the capsaicin and di-hydrocapsaicin showed antibacterial effects in vitro against Bacillus cereus, B. subtilis, Clostridium sporogenes, C. tetani and Streptococcus pyogenes in filter paper disk13.

The fresh fruit juice in vitro showed antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli andPseudomonas aeruginosa14.

The powdered fruit extract (50 g with 500 mL of ethanol 88%), in agar plate culture (50 µL/disk) did not show any activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae orS. pyogenes15.

The fruit (5% in feed) fed to rat had an anti-hypercholesterolemic effect and is claimed to have gastric stimulating activity and choleretic effects16.

Solanine is claimed to have analgesic activity17; capsaicin is believed to be an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, a cyclooxygenase inhibitor, a local anesthetic, a rubefacient and a vasodilator17.

Capsaicin is also reported to cause local reduction of susbtance P, cyclooxygenase inhibition, anti-inflammatory, local anesthetic and vasodilating activities, among others18.


1 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 WENIGER B, 1987-88 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

3 BALLAND V, GLASGOW A, SPRINGER F, GAYMES G, 2004 TRAMIL survey. enda-caribbean, IICA, UAG & U.PARIS XI, Saint Vincent.

4 OMS/WHO, 1991 Pautas para la evaluación de medicamentos herbarios WHO/TRM/91.4 (original inglés). Programa de Medicina Tradicional, OMS, Ginebra, Suiza.

5 GUTSU EV, KINTYA PK, LAZURIIEVSKII GV, Balashova nn, 1984 Steroid alkaloids and glycosides of Capsicum annuum L. Rast Resur 20(1):127-130.

6 POLITIS J, 1948 Distribution of chlorogenic acid in solanaceae and in the organs of these plants. Compt Rend 226:692-693.

7 TOMAS F, FERRERES F, 1980 Flavonoids from the leaves of Capsicum annuum (Solanaceae). I. Major components. Afinidad 37:517-518.

8 COOPER TH, GUZINSKI JA, FISHER C, 1991 Improved high-performance liquid chromatography method for the determination of major capsaicinoids in Capsicum oleoresins. J Agric Food Chem 39(12):2253-2256.

9 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants.Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press. p35.

10 VLIETINCK AJ, VAN HOOF L, TOTTE J, LASURE A, VANDERBERGHE D, RWANGABO PC, MVUKIYUMWAMIJ, 1995 Screening of hundred Rwandese medicinal plants for antimicrobial and antiviral properties. J Ethnopharmacol 46(1):31-47.

11 CACERES A, LOPEZ BR, GIRON MA, LOGEMANN H, 1991 Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of dermatophytic infections. 1. Screening for antimycotic activity of 44 plant extracts. J Ethnopharmacol 31(3):263-276.

12 FENG PC, HAYNES LJ, MAGNUS KE, PLIMMER JR, 1964 Further pharmacological screening of some West Indian medicinal plants. J Pharm Pharmacol Suppl16:115.

13 ABDOU IA, ABDOU-ZEID AA, EL-SHERBEENG MR, ABDOU-EL-EHEAT ZH, 1972 Antimicrobial activities of Allium sativum, Allium cepa, Raphanus sativus, Capsicum frutescens, Eruca sativa, Allium kurat on bacteria. Qual Plant Mater Veg22(1):29-35.

14 CICHEWICZ RH, THORPE PA, 1996 The antimicrobial properties of chili peppers (Capsicum species) and their uses in Mayan medicine. J Ethnopharmacol52(2):61-70.

15 CACERES A, ALVAREZ AV, OVANDO AE, SAMAYOA BE, 1991 Plants used in Guatemala for the treatment of respiratory diseases. 1. Sreening of 68 plants against gram-positive bacteria. J Ethnopharmacol 31:193-208.

16 SAMBAIAH K, SATYANARAYANA MN, 1980 Hypocholesterolemic effect of red pepper and capsaicin. Indian J Exp Biol18:898-899.

17 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their activities.Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

18 DUKE JA, 2000 Chemicals and their biological activities in: Capsicum annuum L. Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases.USDA-ARS-NGRL, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, USA, Aug.10,2000. URL:

19 DHAWAN BN, PATNAIK GK, RASTOGI RP, SINGH KK, TANDON JS, 1977 Screening of Indian plants for biological activity VI. Indian J Exp Biol 15:208-219.

20 ROCKWELL P, RAW J, 1979 A mutagenic screening of various herbs, spices and food additives. Nutr Cancer 1:10-15.

21 NAGABHUSHAN M, BHIDE SV, 1985 Mutagenicity of chili extract and capsaicin in short term test. Environ Mutagen 7:881-888.

22 HAN Y, SHIN K, WOO W, 1984 Effect of spices on hepatic microsomal enzyme function in mice. Arch Pharm South Korea Res7(1):53-56.

23 SANCHEZ-PALOMERA E, 1951 Concept of the mucous barrier and its significance. Gastroenterology18:269-286.

24 POUSSET JL, 1989 Plantes médicinales Africaines.Paris, France: ACCT. p38.

25 MEDING B, 1993 Skin symptoms among workers in a spice factory. Contact Derm 29(4):202-205.

26 GUZZO CA, LAZARUS GS, WERTH VP, 1996 Dermatological pharmacology. In: HARDMAN JG, GILMAN AG, LIMBIRD LE Eds. Goodman and Gilman’s the pharmacological basis of therapeutics. 9th ed. New York, USA: The McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing, International Edition.

27PEISKER V, ARANGUREN ML, MONTERO DE ESPINOSA E, MORAES J, LEAL MS, SANZ J, 1995 Vademécum Internacional. Madrid, España: Medicom S.A.

28CARBALLO A, 1995 Cálculo de concentración y dosis de las drogas vegetales TRAMIL: Mensuraciones farmacognósticas y aproximaciones técnico-clínicas. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.

29 MARTINEZ MJ, BETANCOURT J, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2005 Antimicrobial effect of fresh leaves and their juice of Capsicum annuum. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

30 MARTINEZ MJ, BETANCOURT J, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2005 Irritabilidad dérmica primaria de hoja fresca en aceite deCapsicum annuum. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.

31 MARTINEZ MJ, BETANCOURT J, LOPEZ M, MOREJON Z, FUENTES V, MORON F, 2005 Clases Tóxicas Agudas Tópica de hoja fresca machacada deCapsicum annuum. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio Central de Farmacología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas “Dr. Salvador Allende”, La Habana, Cuba.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.