Capsicum chinense Origin: Mexico
Standardized: habanero pepper
Other: bonnet pepper
Capsicum chinense Jacq.
Plant Family: Solanaceae
Capsaicin is one of the newest old buzzwords in the science of wellness. The alkaloid capsaicin is an active constituent in habanero peppers, generally recognized to be one of the hottest peppers grown. Since time immemorial, the indigenous tribes of South America and the Caribbean have used habanero and its cousins for its beneficial properties and to spice their foods. Capsicum chinense is sometimes confused with Scotch bonnets and other fiery peppers that grow in the same area, thanks to a misnomer that dates back to its original discovery by European explorers. The popularity of hot peppers of all varieties spread throughout the world, both as a spice and as an herb. In Chinese, Japanese, Native American and Ayurvedic traditional medicine, cayenne and habanero pepper powders have been used to promote healthy digestion, stimulate appetite, and combat frostbite. Modern research has confirmed the traditional uses of habenero pepper, and many over the counter topical ointments and cream contain capsaicin, the active constituent in habaneros. The amount of capsaicin present in the fruit (which is technically a berry, not a vegetable) of a pepper is a measure of its fiery heat. The heat of a pepper is measured in Scoville units, named for the chemist who devised a test for hotness in 1912. Though the Scoville test is no longer used to determine heat, the units still bear his name. These days, scientists use liquid chromatography to measure heat, expressing it in Scoville units. Habanero peppers rate between 150,000 and 500,000 on the Scoville scale. By contrast, cayenne peppers rate between 30,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville scale making habaneros as much at ten times hotter than their nearest cousins.
Dried, crushed rinds and fruit
In ointments or in food preparation. Sometimes found encapsulated and as an extract.
Specific: Use caution when handling particularly around eyes and mucous membranes.
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