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“Some like it Hot” A Hot Pepper that is

September 16, 2013

By Joan McDaniel                             September 16, 2013 Updated September 24, 2013

Remember that great American comedy about an all-girl band? The Movie Some like it Hot was made during the 1950’s.  It was released in 1959, directed by Billy Wilder and featured Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft and Marilyn Monroe.


It had a great cast with Marilyn playing the Hot part. Well I’m not going to talk about that movie, nor about its great all-star cast — I’m going to talk food, of course, and this hot is about the Hot Pepper.

In an attempt to replace my addiction to a high sugar, high carb diet, I began to look to herbs and spices as a replacement.  I started by growing my own herbs and began to experiment with the dried Korean red chili pepper.  I found it didn’t kill me and it tasted rather nice.  So I decided to plant and grow my own pepper.  I went to the same Asian Market where I had gotten the dried pepper and found they also were selling pepper plants. I asked for a “hot pepper plant”.  With a broken English response, the owner said “No, You no want Hot Pepper plant” and he pointed to the milder “Medium Hot pepper plant”.

I bought the plants, put them in the ground and have enjoyed the summer eating my fresh peppers right from my own garden.  Thank Goodness I didn’t get the Hot Pepper for the Pepper I did get is hot enough.  I decided to do some research and found out what hot really means in the Hot Pepper World.


Capsaicin is a chemical compound found naturally in peppers that gives it the spicy flavor that we’ve come to know so well.  The level of heat is measured by the Scoville Scale. Levels range from zero, no spice, to 16 million which is considered pure capsaicin.  Now THAT’s hot.

I will discuss the Scoville scale later in the article, but now let’s look at what are the benefits and why you should try to tolerate a hot pepper in the first place.

Hot Peppers Cayenne is called the King of Herbs

Chile peppers are native to South and Central America. They were introduced to South Asia in the 1500s and have come to dominate the world spice trade. Few could have imagined the impact of Columbus’ discovery of a spice so pungent that it rivaled the better known black pepper native to South Asia. India is now the largest producer of Chillies in the world. Cayenne pepper has been prized by generations.  Tradition and Folklore attributes amazing healing powers to the Hot Pepper.

Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine recommends cayenne for proper digestion as it stimulates the flow of stomach secretions and saliva.

The famed herbal healer Dr. Shulze said, “If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other.”

Mastering the hotness

Eating the hot spicy capsaicin-rich food is a tradition to many cultures.  People build up a tolerance to the heat.  The incentive is a great taste sensation.  Eating hot peppers starts you on a new culinary journey.  Getting use to the heat factor, allows exploration of the many diverse flavors from around the world.   Also eating the capsaicin excites the nervous system into producing endorphins, which promote a pleasant sense of well-being that can last several hours. The endorphin lift or “high”, makes spicy foods mildly addictive and for some, an obsession.

Capsaicin is not soluble in water, but soluble in alcohol, fats and oils.  That is why drinking water after eating a hot chili won’t stop the burning.  Downing a cold beer is the traditional remedy, but the best way is mixing it with an oil like Coconut, Olive or any other form of fat. Try mixing the dish with  handful of walnuts and excellent source of healthy fats.

Capsaicin’s many Other Benefits

Free Radicals - Greatest Enemy to our Health

The Hot Pepper helps fight Free Radicals our greatest enemy to our health.  Free radicals cause inflammation which is the start of all diseases.  The Hot Pepper contains phytochemicals carotenoids and flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants that fight free radical damage and inflammation – the main cause for cancer and many other diseases.

is good for the heart and circulatory system

Helps jump starts the circulation system which is good to activate a slowed immune system

Helps stimulate blood flow

Increases metabolism, suppresses the appetite, for a healthier weight loss

Increases energy and alertness

Capsaicin is an endorphin and it can help improve your outlook and mood

Helps with memory

Helps indigestion and gastrointestinal irregularities which Improves digestion

Stimulated production of digestive enzymes, which makes nutrient absorption more efficient

Stimulates secretions, which helps to clear the mucus from the nose, lungs and the sinuses and cause sweating

Adding it to tea makes it good for colds, sore throats, and the flu.

Helps break-down carbohydrates for more efficient calorie consumption and energy production.

Helps breakdown fat in the liver and fat oxidation

Increases the body’s oxygen intake by up to 7.5 percent

Increases stamina and physical activity; by increasing the body’s oxygen intake by up to 7.5 percent

It is a rich source of Vitamins A (beta-carotene) and vitamin C.

Cayenne Pepper can also be applied directly to the skin

Cayenne Pepper in liquid form can be applied to the skin. It increases circulation and can be applied to bandages to help boost the supply of fresh blood to a wound while stopping excessive bleeding. It can also be taken orally for the same purpose, as cayenne aids the body in naturally healing itself from a variety of health conditions. (

Topical application of cayenne pepper causes irritation in the applied area; thus, it helps distract the nerves from joint pains due to arthritis.

Cayenne is also very effective in relieving diabetic complications like nerve damage. It gives temporary relief of pain from psoriasis, herpes zoster, neuralgia, and toothache.

Smelling cayenne helps cure headaches. Topical application of capsaicin also helps to relieve them.

The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper


Picture Credit

Peppers may help the gardener also

Farmers in Africa plant peppers around their crops in order to keep the elephants out.  Peppers are an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produce a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes in contact. There aren’t many Elephants here in America, but I wonder if it will help fend off other critters like deer, ground hogs, rabbits, squirrels, and any other mammals that invade my garden. squirrl

Rocky J. Squirrel Picture Credit

What makes the Hot Pepper Hot?

Most people think it’s the seeds  that make peppers hot.  The seeds themselves do not produce any capsaicin, the highest concentration of capsaicin can be found in the white pith of the inner wall, where the seeds are attached.  If you want to remove some of the spiciness of the pepper be sure to remove both the seeds and the ribs.

The Scoville Scale Just How HOT Are My Chiles?

In 1912 a chemist by the name of Wilbur Scoville, working for the ParkeDavis pharmaceutical company, developed a method to measure the heat level of chile peppers.  The test is named after him, The “Scoville Organoleptic Test”


Wilber L. Scoville

The pungency (or heat factor) of Chile peppers is measured in multiples of 100 units.  The sweet bell peppers are at zero Scoville units to the mighty Naga Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) at 1,000,000 units!.

Click this link for the complete Scoville Heat Scale list

I have provided a shorter list


Picture Credit

Pepper Type                  Heat Level                     Scoville Ranking  

Sweet Banana                          Mild                                        0

Sweet Bell Pepper                   Mild                                        0

Pimento                                    Mild                                        0

Shishito                                     Mild                                        0 – 100

Paprika – Super Red               Mild                                        50 – 500

Anaheim                                   Mild                                       100 – 500

Pepperoncini                           Mild                                       100 – 500

Pablano (ancho)                      Mild                                       1,500 – 2,500

Jalapeno (Chipotle)                 Medium                                2,500 – 5,000

Korean                                     Spicy                                      15,000 – 50,000

Cayenne                                  Spicy                                      30,000 – 50,000

Tabasco                                  Spicy                                       30,000 – 50,000

Serrano                                   Spicy                                      30,000 – 50,000

Chillepins                                Spicy                                      50,000

Datil                                         Spicy                                     100,000 – 300,000

Thai                                          Extreme Spicy                     100,000 – 350,000

Jamaican                                  Extreme Spicy                     100,000 – 500,000

Fatalii                                       Extreme Spicy                      125,000 – 325,000

Orange Habanero                  Extreme Spicy                      150,000 – 325,000

Habanero                                Extreme Spicy                       200,000 – 300,000

Scotch Bonnet                        Extreme Spicy                       200,000 – 300,000

Red Savina Habanero            Extreme Spicy                       350,000 – 575,000

Naga Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) HOT HOT                               855,000 – 1,041,427

Common Pepper Spray                                                         2 – 3,000,000

Police Grade Spray                                                                 5 – 300,000

Pure Capsaicin                                                                        15 – 16,000,000


Picture Credit


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