Capsicum sp. / Rode peper

Capsicum soorten, zoals Spaanse peper, Paprika en Cayennepeper behoren tot de familie der Solanaceae of Nachtschadefamilie, van oorsprong komen zij uit Mexico, Midden Amerika, West Indië en een groot deel van Zuid Amerika. De scherpe smaak, te danken aan de stof capsaïcine, heeft er voor gezorgd dat deze planten wereldwijd verspreid werden en steeds meer gewaardeerd worden. Ook de medicinale werking word in wetenschappelijk onderzoek steeds beter onderbouwd.

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Jul 3;56(9):1488-500. 
Biological Activities of Red Pepper (Capsicum annuum) and Its Pungent Principle Capsaicin: A Review. Srinivasan K1.
Capsaicin, the pungent alkaloid of red pepper (Capsicum annuum) has been extensively studied for its biological effects which are of pharmacological relevance. These include: cardio protective influence, antilithogenic effect, antiinflammatory, and analgesia, thermogenic influence, and beneficial effects on gastrointestinal system. Therefore, capsaicinoids may have the potential clinical value for pain relief, cancer prevention and weight loss. It has been shown that capsaicinoids are potential agonists of capsaicin receptor (TRPV1). They could exert the effects not only through the receptor-dependent pathway but also through the receptor-independent one. The involvement of neuropeptide Substance P, serotonin, and somatostatin in the pharmacological actions of capsaicin has been extensively investigated. Topical application of capsaicin is proved to alleviate pain in arthritis, postoperative neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, psoriasis, etc. Toxicological studies on capsaicin administered by different routes are documented. Capsaicin inhibits acid secretion, stimulates alkali and mucus secretion and particularly gastric mucosal blood flow which helps in prevention and healing of gastric ulcers. Antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties of capsaicin are established in a number of studies. Chemopreventive potential of capsaicin is evidenced in cell line studies. The health beneficial hypocholesterolemic influence of capsaicin besides being cardio protective has other implications, viz., prevention of cholesterol gallstones and protection of the structural integrity of erythrocytes under conditions of hypercholesterolemia. Beneficial influences of capsaicin on gastrointestinal system include digestive stimulant action and modulation of intestinal ultrastructure so as to enhance permeability to micronutrients.



Red pepper, with the scientific name of Capsicum annuum, belongs to the Solanaceae family (14). Red pepper includes different plants with common names including chili pepper, tabasco pepper, african chilies, cayenne pepper, paprika (15) and also christmas pepper (14). Red pepper originated in the South America where they used in favor of medicinal and culinary purpose (15).

In addition to the use of capsicum fruits as a food additive, in traditional medicine, it has been used for the treatment of cough, toothache, sore throat, parasitic infections, rheumatism, wound healing (15) and also utilized as an antiseptic, counterirritant, appetite stimulator (16), antioxidant and immunomodulator (17) (Figure 1). Other effects such as antibacterial and anticancer are also related to chilies (16). Red pepper as a drug is given in atonic dyspepsia and flatulence (16) due to increasing the motility in the gastric antrum, duodenum, proximal jejunum and colon (17). It can also increase parietal, pepsin, and bile acid secretions (14). Chilies are known to protect against gastrointestinal ailments (18) including dyspepsia (17), loss of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux disease and gastric ulcer (17) due to the several mechanisms such as reducing the food transition time through the gastrointestinal tract and anti-Helicopylori effects (18). Moreover, the leaves of its plant have antioxidant activity (19).

The medicinal effects of chilies are related to different constituents such as capsaicin, fixed oil, thiamine, protein and ascorbic acid (16).
Capsaicin, water-insoluble derivative of homovanillic acid (21) and the main active ingredient in capsicum fruits, is responsible for hot sensation to the tongue (14) and is utilized for the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis (15), diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, cluster headache, postmastectomy syndrome, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (16), dermatitis or eczema itching (14), postoperative nausea and vomiting, bladder hyperactivity (22), gallstone (23), anorexia, haemorrhoids, liver congestion, foodborne gastrointestinal pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella typhimurium and Bacillus cereus (17), tonsillitis and rhinitis and fibromyalgia (15). It is also used as pesticides (24) analgesic, antiobesity, antihypertensive (15, 22), antiarrhythmic, antiischemic (22, 25), and gastroprotective agent (16). It can stimulate saliva and digestive enzymes of the pancreas, small intestine (17), and also stimulate hair growth in alopecia areata. Anticoagulant activity, prevention of aspiration pneumonia (21), protecting neuromuscular junctions from Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin A and improving cognitive function are also attributed to capsaicin beneficial properties (15).

Topically applied capsaicin is used in migrane, trigeminal neuralgia, herpes zoster (17), chronic musculoskeletal pain (26) and skin disorders (15).
Different studies indicated that red pepper and its active constituent, capsaicin, have therapeutic potential in different components of metabolic syndrome.

References
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Capsaïcine en de Scovilleschaal
Hiernaast of hieronder zie je de Scovilleschaal. Deze schaal is in 1912 ontworpen door Wilbur Scoville om de heetheid van chilipepers te meten. Oorspronkelijk werd de heetheid gemeten door de extracten van pepers te verdunnen. De hoeveelheid keer dat er verdund moet worden tot het moment dat er geen scherpte meer werd waargenomen geeft de hoeveelheid Scoville Units aan. De Jalapeno moet dus (zie schaal) maximaal 8000 keer verdund worden om niet meer waargenomen te worden. Eén druppel extract van de heetste peper ter wereld (Carolina Reaper) moet maar liefst meer dan twee miljoen keer verdund worden om niet meer waargenomen te worden. Een paprika of tomaat heeft een Scovillewaarde van 0. Een gerecht wordt over het algemeen als heet ervaren bij een Scovillewaarde van 500-1000. Pepperspray van de politie heeft een waarde van 5.300.000 SHU.

Het aantal Scoville Units (SHU) geeft de hoeveelheid Capsaïcine aan. Capsaïcine is de werkzame stof die de pepers hun scherpte geven. Tegenwoordig wordt de scherpte bepaald door de hoeveelheid Capsaïcine te meten (door middel van chromatografie). Pure Capsaïcine heeft een waarde van 15 tot 16 miljoen SHU. De chemische stof is erg stabiel, verdampt nauwelijks en ontleedt niet door koken. 

Chemische structuur Capsaïcine:

Chemische structuur Capsaicine

In pepers komen een vijftal nauw verwante verbindingen voor met soortgelijke effecten, waarvan Capsaïcine en Di-hydrocapsaïcine de voornaamste zijn.
Wanneer capsaicïne in de mond aanwezig is, geven zenuwen een soortgelijk signaal door naar de hersenen dat door wordt gegeven wanneer je je mond verbrandt bij heet eten (boven de 43 graden). Het lichaam reageert door endorfine vrij te maken. Endorfine wordt ook wel het gelukshormoon genoemd en geeft een prettig gevoel en verzacht de pijn. Aan Capsaïcine en dus heet eten kun je wennen. Men moet steeds heter eten om de effecten van Capsaïcine te ervaren. Voor velen is heet eten een fijne verslaving. Vogels zijn niet gevoelig voor Capsaïcine en zijn daardoor de belangrijkste transporteur van de zaden.

Wanneer je te heet hebt gegeten is een glaasje melk beter dan een glaasje water. Capsaïcine is slecht oplosbaar in water en veel beter in vet. Ook een alcoholische drank helpt beter om de boel te ‘blussen’.

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