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Chili Pepper Wisdom

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Chili Pepper Wisdom

We have a *lot* of stories about hot peppers. One of those that has stood the test of time was my dad’s reaction the first time mom used it in a relish recipe. Most of you probably don’t know what chowchow is, but it is a green tomato version of several popular relishes, and one of my father’s favorite foods.

Mom experimented one day, adding hot peppers to the mix. As usual, there was less than a jar full left after the canning, and mom put it on the table for dad to eat. When mom went in to bring out his dinner, dad took a big spoonful and popped it in his headed post haste to the sink where he began guzzling water. It was *hot.* Used with greater discretion, it has become a favorite recipe.

The heat of a pepper is based on what’s called the Scoville scale. The highest I’ve seen the scale go is 1,000,005, but it has been a while. I base what I’m willing to eat as a food on a one to ten scale, and if it’s over six, I am *extremely* cautious. I *like* my taste buds.

Peppers are more than just food or spice, however. I always prefer to use a food item to create a remedy, and chili peppers can fit that bill, used wisely. However, you have to treat them with the respect they are due. Mishandled, they can cause a world of hurt.

One of the most common herbal uses for this plant is in pain relief. To understand this, let me explain what a counter-irritant does. The nerves in the area that hurts are sending a pain signal to your brain. That’s important to get your attention to the problem, but after that it is not helpful.

A counter irritant sends another signal to the brain. Some describe it as deadening the nerve endings, and that’s a good description, but the one that I operate on is that the two signals confuse the brain. The results, no matter how you describe it, is that it stops hurting.

There are other benefits to this plant. It’s high in Vitamin C and may help lower cholesterol. It’s being studied as a weight loss aid, and not just because it makes your mouth burn. It may even help with a toothache, though like clove oil, you need to take care so as not to burn surrounding tissue. It’s also being studied for aiding the prostate.

Aside from the heat, there is one other thing to keep in mind about the chili. Never eat any part other than the pod itself. It is a member of the nightshade family and it could cause all the problems that family is so capable of.