Capsicum anuum: cayenne pepper

Capsicum, or cayenne red pepper, has many characteristics which are directly derived from its source. If you can imagine the effects of red hot chile peppers on your skin, mucous membranes, and circulation you will have a very good idea of the superficial effects of this remedy and some insight into the mental state as well.

Capsicum's effects are primarily irritation, inflammation, and superficial burning on the physical level. It affects all the mucous membranes, producing redness and burning pains. The skin is characteristically flushed and feels hot internally, but is cold to the touch. The person is quite chilly and worse from cold.

Capsicum patients are usually obese and flabby, with an unclean look about them. They have red faces and fine networks of red capillaries on their faces and noses. Their lips are swollen, cracked and burning. They look like chronic alcoholics, and sometimes they are, or they are "the children of beer drinkers and pepper eaters" (Kent). There is a flabby, weak, weary quality about the patient. They are plump and rosy, but have no endurance. They can be mistaken by appearance for Ferrum metallicum, Calcarea carbonica, Pulsatilla and Sulphur. They have ruddiness and rosy cheeks like Sulphur and Ferrum, and the soft, round, flabby plumpness of Calcarea or Pulsatilla.

The most well-known keynote for Capsicum is homesickness. The homesickness can be accompanied by red cheeks, sleeplessness, and a red sore throat. They feel a deep nostalgia or longing for the past which can make them quite depressed and even suicidal. Kent says that they have persistent, tormenting suicidal thoughts which they resist. These thoughts often come on away from home when there is no possibility of returning. Capsicums do not like having their daily routines changed. Perhaps this is why leaving home and traveling is difficult for them. The remedy has been given to many people who are leaving home for the first time, like children going to school, especially boarding school or college, or those who are forced to leave home because of business, war, or economic displacement. They find themselves unable to study or work in the new environment and they long to go home.

Capsicum patients are sluggish, lazy, clumsy, obstinate, and easily offended. The sluggishness and laziness comes in part from the physical flabbiness and weakness, but it is also part of the disposition mentally. They also have a peppery disposition, either jovial or becoming suddenly angry over insults and trifles, suspicious and looking for trouble. If someone proposes something, the Capsicum child will oppose it, even if it is something he wants. The children are extremely difficult to manage. Kent says they are "obstinate to the extreme; it is a devilishness." (See "I Say, `Black,' He Says, `White,'" in this issue of Resonance.) They do not like criticism, however, and have a fear of censure or being in trouble with the police.

The peppery nature comes through in the physical symptoms as well. Capsicum patients have inflammations of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary tracts with redness and burning pains in the mucous membranes as though hot peppers had been sprinkled on them.

Capsicum is the black-type remedy in the repertory for mastoiditis with great sensitivity, swelling, and abscess of the mastoid and ear. Chronic otitis media is typical as well. The facial bones are painfully sensitive and inflamed and there is a sensation of fine threads which are drawn together through the face, or of hot needles in the face. Headaches are bursting, as if the skull would split or fly apart, worse from moving the head, walking, or coughing. There is a sensation as if the brain would be pressed through the forehead. The head feels enlarged.

The tongue is greenish at the base and burning, with smarting pain at the tip. Burning, pressing pain and constriction, with desire to swallow characterize the Capsicum sore throat. The throat is dark red, with large spongy tonsils and a swollen, elongated uvula. Hot pungeant air comes up from the throat during coughing, causing a foul taste in the mouth. The sore throat can linger a long time without getting much better or worse. Chronic hoarseness also persists, which is worse from singing and talking. The sore throat may come on from chronic smoking and drinking. The Capsicum cough causes pain in distant parts of the body. It is better from drinking cold water.

Capsicums have acid indigestion and heartburn. The stomach can feel icy cold, like cold water had been poured into it. Alcoholic gastritis is common. The stomach burns and trembles. There is a strong desire for alcohol, coffee, and stimulants, especially pepper. Coffee causes nausea and vomiting. The rest of the digestive tract can be inflamed and burning as well, all the way to the hemorrhoids which burn and smart as if sprinkled with red pepper. The stools are loose, hot, burning, and bloody with mucus. They are urgent, with straining, like Nux vomica.

Also like Nux vomica is the frequent urination with ineffectual urging and straining. Drinking brings on urination and stool. The urine is burning and the urethra is inflamed, like Cantharis. Capsicum is a remedy for gonorrhea, with thick, creamy discharge from the urethra and burning pain in the prostate. The scrotum is cold and shrivelled.

The lumbar spine hurts after stool, and the sacrum can also hurt with the hemorrhoids and diarrhea. The back has cold chills, like ice water was dripping down it. The sciatica is worse from bending backwards and from coughing. The joints are stiff on first motion, and better continued motion like Rhus tox. There is also pain in the back while drinking water.

Many of Capsicum's complaints are worse from drinking water, except for the cough. The diarrhea, urination, and back pain all come on from this. Capsicums desire cold drinks, which cause a shudder in the body and aggravate them. They strongly desire alcohol, which is addictive and aggravates their chronic problems. Much of the Capsicum state and appearance is typical of chronic alcoholism, and this is a remedy which has cured alcoholics.

Capsicum patients are quite chilly and worse from cold air and drafts. They don't like the open air. They are worse from dampness, uncovering, and cold bathing. They are better from warmth and continued motion and while they are eating.

Capsicum is a remedy which I believe is underprescribed, possibly because modern homeopaths may not often see the down and out patients like chronic alcoholics and theft children who may need it. Failing to recognize the remedy, we probably treat with Bryonia (irritable and desire to go home), Calcarea carbonica (flabby, worse from cold and damp), Sulphur (red face and alcoholic), Nux Vomica (chilly with desire for stimulants and alcohol), Pulsatilla (plump and moody), Arsenicum or Phosphorus (chilly with burning pains) and Ferrum (chilly, sensitive, with red cheeks) to these patients with mixed or no results.

The main characteristics to look for in prescribing for a Capsicum patient are in their nature, the type of complaints, and their physical appearance. In their nature you will see homesickness and melancholia, obstinance and oppositional behavior, laziness and sluggishness, yet they are volatile and easily offended. The kind of complaints they might have would be inflammations, with burning pains, and the effects of alcoholism. Their physical appearance is chilly, flabby and obese with a red face and nose. Put these together and you only have Capsicum, the hot red pepper who is chilly.

International Foundation for Homeopathy.


By Robert Ullman

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