Chili (Capsicum Annuum)

Chilies are also known as “cayenne peppers” and are a variety of the same species that produces capsicums, they have the same species name even though the resulting Food has quite different qualities. The difference of course is a matter of degree, at least it Feels like a
matter of many degrees when a good hot chili pepper hits the taste buds of your tongue or even anywhere on your skin.
Although the species name “annuum" means annual, in the absence of Frosts the plants can survive several seasons and grow into a perennial shrub.

Your healing chili
Much of the healing capacity of chili comes down to a component called capsaicin. This has been used for a long while in pain relief creams as it depletes something called substance P From nerve endings, and substance P is necessary For the sensation of pain. For centuries, people have rubbed hot chilies onto sore spots to gain relief (and more than a little heat at the same time, so be careful how you use it). In recent times. however, chili has been shown to have many and varied healing powers.

Cool your appetite
There has been plenty of research showing that chili can increase your metabolism and so help with weight loss as well as reducing appetite. In one study {Physiology and Behavior) subjects were given an average of one gram of ordinary dried, ground, chili in their Food, not in a capsule as has been done previously in some studies. The study went for six weeks and involved people who were not overweight. Prior to the study it was established how much each person liked, and used, chili. Those people who did not enjoy cayenne were only given 0.3 grams while regular cayenne users were given 1.8 grams.
All people experienced an increase in core body temperature and burnt more kilojoules through increased energy expenditure. However, it was people who did not regularly eat chili who experienced a significant decrease in hunger, especially For Fatty salty, and sweet Foods. The researchers pant out that it seems that once chili becomes Familiar to people, it loses its efficacy. These individual differences need to be remembered when using chili For weight loss or appetite control. The researchers also note that it seems to be the burn in the mouth that has the impact on digestion, metabolism, and appetite. Given these caveats in how it should be used, it still seems that cayenne is a hot and healthy thing when it comes to weight loss and it seems a component of chilies called DCT could be part of the reason for the weight loss.
DCT is dihydrocapsiate and it is Found in hot chilies although it is not the element that gives chilies their heat. In one study {The FASEB Journal) people were put on a controlled kilojoule diet for a month. They were divided into three groups and either given a high dose DCT capsule, a medium dose DCT capsule or a placebo. After eating a high protein meal those given the high dose DCT burned twice as many kilojoules as did those given the placebo. Additionally, Fat oxidation increased significantly indicating that more Fat was being burned.

Chill your blood pressure
Research on capsaicin as a blood pressure lowering agent have yielded conflicting results. These studies though have been on short-term application of capsaicin. In a new animal-based study {Cell Metabolism) long- term consumption of capsaicin was observed. The result was that long-term consumption of capsaicin Prom chili peppers was Pound to lead to significant reductions in blood pressure. The reason capsaicin has this effect is that it activates a thing called the transient receptor vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel which is found in the lining of blood vessels. Activating this channel leads to the production of nitric oxide which in turn causes the blood vessels to dilate (open up). When blood vessels open the pressure required to push blood through them drops and so you have a reduction in blood pressure.
If you shy away from the inferno-like capacities of a chili, do not despair, all is not lost. There is a less potent Japanese chili (also known as japones) which instead of capsaicin (which provides the heat to most chilies) contains a compound dubbed capsinoid that is closely related to capsaicin. Early studies show that it may have the same effects as capsaicin while the Japanese chili itself is only mildly hot.

Chili up your nose
While the thought of sticking chili up your nose may bring water to your eyes, spraying chili up the old proboscis might do exactly the reverse. A study from the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology looked at the effect of chili spray applied up the nose of people who suffer with non-allergic rhinitis, an inflammation of the nose not related to pollens or other allergens; so it is not hayfever. It is caused by a range of environmental factors including the weather, household chemicals and perfumes. In the study half of these people sprayed a chili spray up their nose each day for a period of two weeks. The other half of the group were given a placebo spray. The people who used chili reported relief of nasal congestion, sinus pain, and sinus pressure within a minute of using the spray, on average.
This is not surprising because we know that capsaicin, the active ingredient from chili, has pain relieving properties and the capacity to boost circulation. It’s a solution only for hardy souls who can stand the heat. You should probably get some qualified advice before giving it a go.

From 2002 to 2009 researchers studied the qualities of chilies that grow in different climates and published their results in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. They found that chilies with less heat tend to grow in areas where there is little water available. By contrast, hot chilies seem to thrive in well-watered areas. The theory goes that in dry areas the chilies need what water they can find in order to live and do not devote the precious resource to producing the “capsaicinoids” that give chili its spicy heat. In wet areas however, where water is not an issue those plants that produce more capsaicinoids do well as these compounds kill the fungi that live on the fruit in wet areas. Additionally, the capsaicinoids keep rats from eating the fruit. In cases where the cost is not too high to produce them, the spicy chili compounds give the plants an advantage. The end result is that the more water available to the plant; the spicier the chilies that the plant produces. So if you want really hot chilies, keep them well watered.

Grow Your Chili
When to plant: Seeds need temperatures over 23°C to germinate, so in cool temperate areas grow as an annual in spring and summer. Plant all year in warmer climates.

Climate: Range of zones Australia-wide

Aspect/placement: Likes full sun, but fruit prone to scalding 

Specific needs: Needs well-drained soil, that's been prepared with well-rotted manure before planting but not excessively rich. Add some lime to help prevent blossom end rot. Water regularly especially when fruiting. Grows well in a pot.

Companion planting: Basil.

Harvesting: Ready for harvest from about 12 weeks. Keep harvesting to promote more fruit. The flavor and heat develops as the chili ripens so pick according to how hot you like them. When picking, wear gloves and cut the fruit to remove it from the bush.

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