Drug Nomenclature

Date of monograph revision: 19-Mar-1998; 01-Sep-1998; 09-Apr-2001; 08-Nov-2001; 04-Dec-2003; 25-Jul-2006
Synonyms: Capsic.; Capsici Fructus; Chillies; Espanjanpippuri; Paprikų vaisiai; Paprikový plod; Piment Rouge; Pimentão; Red Pepper; Spanischer Pfeffer; Spansk peppar


Ground cayenne pepper of commerce is normally a blend of varieties of capsicum. Paprika is from Capsicum annuum var. longum; it is milder than capsicum.

In Eur. (see Go to European Pharmacopoeia Convention Signatories), Jpn, and US.

US also includes capsicum oleoresin (capsicin).

Ph. Eur. 5.5 (Capsicum). The dried ripe fruits of Capsicum annuum var. minimum and small-fruited varieties of C. frutescens. It contains a minimum of 0.4% of total capsaicinoids expressed as capsaicin, calculated with reference to the dried drug. Protect from light.

USP 29 (Capsicum). The dried ripe fruits of Capsicum frutescens, known in commerce as African Chillies, or of C. annuum var. connoides, known in commerce as Tabasco Pepper, or C. annuum var. longum, known in commerce as Louisiana Long Pepper, or of a hybrid between the Honka variety of Japanese Capsicum and the Old Louisiana Sport Capsicum, known in commerce as Louisiana Sport Pepper.

USP 29 (Capsicum Oleoresin). An alcoholic extract of the dried ripe fruits of Capsicum annum var. minimum and small fruited varieties of C. fruiscons (Solanaceae). It contains not less than 8% of total capsaicins. It is a dark red oily liquid. Soluble in alcohol, in acetone, in chloroform, in ether, and in volatile oils; soluble with opalescence in fixed oils. Store in airtight containers.

Drug Profile

Capsicum has a carminative action but it is mainly used externally, often in the form of capsicum oleoresin, as a counter-irritant (see Rubefacients and Topical Analgesia, Go to Rubefacients and topical analgesia). It is also included in preparations for the management of cough and cold symptoms. However, preparations of capsicum and capsicum oleoresin can be very irritant. Capsaicin (Go to Capsaicin), the active ingredient of capsicum, is also used in topical preparations in the treatment of painful skin conditions.

Capsicum oleoresin is used in 'pepper sprays' for law enforcement and self defence.

Capsicum is also used in homoeopathic medicine and in cookery.

Effects on the gastrointestinal tract.

The initial response to the ingestion of a hot pepper is a hot or burning sensation in the mouth, which is attributed to the binding of capsaicin to receptors in the oral cavity.1 Casein-containing substances such as milk can reverse this burning sensation, apparently by displacing capsaicin, this being due to their lipophilicity.

Spicy meals have long been associated with gastrointestinal discomfort and ingestion of meals containing 1.5 g of red or black pepper has been shown to cause signs of gastric mucosal damage comparable with those caused by a 625-mg dose of aspirin.2 However, other studies in animals3 and humans4,5 suggest that capsaicin may have a protective effect on gastric mucosa. Ingestion of about 30 g of jalapeño peppers (a capsicum fruit) caused no visible damage to the duodenal or gastric mucosa of 12 healthy subjects6 and daily ingestion of meals containing a total of 3 g of chilli powder did not affect the clinical progress of patients with duodenal ulcers given antacids.7

  1. 1. Henkin R. Cooling the burn from hot peppers. JAMA 1991; 266: 2766. PubMed
  2. 2. Myers BM, et al. Effect of red pepper and black pepper on the stomach. Am J Gastroenterol 1987; 82: 211–14. PubMed
  3. 3. Holzer P. Peppers, capsaicin, and the gastric mucosa. JAMA 1989; 261: 3244–5. PubMed
  4. 4. Kang JY, et al. Chili—protective factor against peptic ulcer? Dig Dis Sci 1995; 40: 576–9. PubMed
  5. 5. Yeoh KG, et al. Chili protects against aspirin-induced gastroduodenal mucosal injury in humans. Dig Dis Sci 1995; 40: 580–3. PubMed
  6. 6. Graham DY, et al. Spicy food and the stomach: evaluation by videoendoscopy. JAMA 1988; 260: 3473–5. PubMed
  7. 7. Kumar N, et al. Do chillies influence healing of duodenal ulcer? BMJ 1984; 288: 1803–4. PubMed

Pepper sprays.

References to the toxic effects of 'pepper sprays' containing capsicum oleoresin.

  1. 1. Zollman TM, et al. Clinical effects of oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray) on the human cornea and conjunctiva. Ophthalmology 2000; 107: 2186–9. PubMed
  2. 2. Chan TC, et al. The effect of oleoresin capsicum "pepper" spray inhalation on respiratory function. J Forensic Sci 2002; 47: 299–304. PubMed


Single-ingredient Preparations

The symbol ¤ denotes a preparation which is discontinued or no longer actively marketed.

Argentina: Redol¤; Australia: Shingles Pain Relief¤; Austria: ABC; Capsiplast¤; Chile: Dolorub Capsico; Parche Leon Fortificante; Germany: ABC Warme-Pflaster¤; Capsamol; Dolenon; Hansaplast ABC Warme-Pflaster; Jucurba; Kneipp Rheuma Salbe¤; Rheumaplast N¤; Thermo Burger; Italy: Cerotto Bertelli Arnikos; Dolpyc; Thermogene; United Kingdom: Fiery Jack;

Multi-ingredient Preparations

The symbol ¤ denotes a preparation which is discontinued or no longer actively marketed.

Argentina: Infrarub¤; Sebulex; Veracolate; Australia: APR Cream¤; Bioglan Joint Mobility; Bioglan The Blue One; Capsolin¤; Euky Bear Limberub¤; Euphrasia Complex; Euphrasia Compound; For Peripheral Circulation Herbal Plus Formula 5; Gingo A; Goanna Heat Cream¤; Lifesystem Herbal Formula 6 For Peripheral Circulation; Painguard¤; Percutane; Radian-B; Relief Muscle Rub¤; Solarub¤; Thermalife C¤; Valerian; Veracolate¤; Austria: Biokosma Red Point-Massagecreme¤; Mayfit chronisch¤; Mentopin; Munari¤; Salhumin; Trauma-Salbe warmend; Traumasalbe¤; Belgium: Algex¤; Dolpyc¤; Rado-Salil; Revocyl¤; Stilene; Thermocream; Brazil: Pilulas Ross; Canada: Absorbine Arthritis; Capsolin¤; Cayenne Plus; Herbalax Forte¤; Phytolax¤; Rheumalan¤; Rhumatisme; France: Baume Disalgyl¤; Baume Saint-Bernard¤; Capsic¤; Disalgyl¤; Dolpyc¤; Elastocapsil¤; Kamol; Le Thermogene; Germany: Arthrex¤; Capval¤; Caye Balsam¤; DoloVisano S¤; Finalgon N Schmerzpflaster¤; Gothaplast Rheumamed AC; Mydalgan¤; Ortholan¤; Panturon-Extern¤; Rheuma-Vasogen¤; Rheumasalbe Capsicum¤; Segmentocut¤; Hong Kong: LEAN Formula w/ Advantra¤; India: Algipan; Flexi-muv; Inflazone; Relaxyl; Ireland: Cremalgin¤; Israel: Mento-O-Cap; Radian-B; Rublex Massage Cream; Italy: Capso; Capsolin¤; Gelovis; Remy; Sloan; Termobalsamo¤; Thermogene¤; Malaysia: Dandelion Complex; Total Man; Mexico: Parche Negro Belladona; Netherlands: Midalgan¤; Sloan's balsem¤; Sloan's liniment¤; Norway: Allcocks Plaster¤; Portugal: Balsamo Analgesico Sanitas; Caroid¤; Dologel¤; Medalginan; Russia: Efcamon (Ефкамон); Espol (Еспол); South Africa: Brooklax Pills; Chisi¤; Infrarub; Moultons Pain Paint; Muscle Rub; Radian¤; SB 3 Triple Action Pills; SB Shisalene; Sloan's Heat Rub; Sloan's Liniment Rub; Sportsman Rub¤; Tandpyndruppels; Spain: Balsamo Midalgan¤; Bellacanfor¤; Dolokey; Embrocacion Gras; Killpan¤; Lapiz Termo Compositum¤; Linimento Naion; Linimento Sloan¤; Linimento Walderr¤; Mostazola¤; Pomada Revulsiva¤; Revulsivo Walderr¤; Rubenal¤; Termosan; Sweden: Sloan's liniment¤; Switzerland: Capsolin¤; Carmol "thermogene"¤; Carmol Plus; Embropax¤; Emplatre Croix D¤; Incutin¤; Massorax¤; Midalgan; Sloan Baume¤; Sloan Liniment¤; Thailand: Flatulence Gastulence; Meloids; Veracolate; United Kingdom: Algipan¤; Allcock's Porous Capsicum Plaster¤; Allens Dry Tickly Cough; Aradolene¤; Balmosa; Buttercup Syrup; Catarrh Mixture; Cremalgin; Fiery Jack; Hactos; Hansaplast Herbal Heat Plaster; Herbal Indigestion Naturtabs; Honey & Molasses; Indian Brandee; Indian Brandee; Indigestion and Flatulence Tablets¤; Indigestion and Flatulence; Indigestion Relief; Jamaican Sarsaparilla; Kilkof; Life Drops; Potters Strong Bronchial Catarrh Pastilles; Potters Sugar Free Cough Pastilles; Radian-B; Ralgex; Ralgex; Rheumatic Pain Relief; Sanderson's Throat Specific; Sanderson's Throat Specific; Vegetable Cough Remover; United States: Throat Discs; Veracolate¤; Venezuela: Ehrlich Balsamo;

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