The Body



Chilli fun

Chilli Use

Capsaicinoids - What Makes Chillies Hot

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 (View a model of this molecule using Chime or VRML plugin). Nearly as common is Dihydrocapsaicin (Chime or VRML). 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 (Chime or VRML),                     Homocapsaicin (Chime or VRML),                              and Homodihydrocapsaicin (Chime or VRML).

These have been isolated and analysed  by HPLC 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, and cloves, and Zingerone, giving ginger and mustard their distinct      flavours. 

To view the molecular models on this page you need a   .mdl viewer, Chime, or a VRML browser, Blaxxum Contact or Cosmoplayer.