Capsaicinoids are the chemicals which give rise to the heat of chillies. They are present in almost every pepper.

Capsaicinoids are the name given to the class of compounds found present in members of the capsicum family of plants.

The most common of these compounds is N-Vanillyl-8-methyl-6-(E)-noneamide, or Capsaicin for short Nearly as common is Dihydrocapsaicin.

These occur in varying ratios from plant to plant, from a 1:1 ratio to 2:1. Between them they typically make up 80-90% of the total capsaicinoid concentration, the rest being made up by such compounds as Nordihydrocapsaicin, Homocapsaicin and Homodihydrocapsaicin. These have been isolated and analysed by HPLC(High Performance Liquid Chromatography)and GC-MS. Most research has been done on Capsaicin, as this is usually the most prevalent chemical in chilli peppers. Its effect on the body is well documented, and forms the basis of the Scoville scale.

Capsaicin is a vanilloid, the heaviest of this class of compound in nature. Others include Vanillin, present in vanilla and the wood used to age wine, Eugenol,present in bay leaves, allspice, cloves and Zingerone, giving ginger and mustard their distinct flavours.

Capsaicin is the substance found in the placental tissue or membrane of the chili pepper (that white foamy stuff found inside the pepper). Common belief is that the heat comes from the seeds. While this is partly true as the seeds have close contact with the membrane, the real heat is in the foam. With a melting point of approx- imately 150 F, chili pepper dishes are better served warm.

It has recently been discovered that Capsaicin reduces blood pressure in dogs and tests are being done for humans. It is also believed to help reduce intestinal cancer.

Capsaicin fools your brain into thinking that it you are in pain by stimulating the nerve endings in your mouth. The Brain responds by releasing endorphins giving a mild euphoric feeling. It is very important to understand that handling hot chili peppers can make your nose run, your eyes water and cause perspiration. It is strongly recommended that you use food handler gloves when working with hot peppers. Keep fingers away from your nose and eyes and other sensitive areas of the body. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after.

So how do I get the heat out of my mouth?

A Manufacturer of Habanero pepper products told me the best way to relieve your mouth of the heat from peppers is 5 minutes. Capsaicin is not water soluble, but oil, soluble. That is why a glass of cold water does not do the trick. The water just glides over the oil on your tongue. Milk, (with milk fat and proteins) will coat your mouth and help out a little. Acid from a ripe tomato helps break it down, but time is the only essence.

* When peppers are Dehydrated they tend to increase in "Heat" by about 10 times.

While I enjoy spicy food, I don't enjoy torture. I like to taste my food and all ingredients in it. I can handle a fair amount of heat, but I don't see the point in making a dish so hot that I cannot taste it or enjoy it. Not to mention that It all has to make a trip through my entire digestive system and that really is an experience that I am not interested in repeating. But hot & spicy is trendy, and for those of you who do find pleasure in turning the heat up high, the world of chili peppers is wide open.