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You are here: Home > Capsaicin

What is Capsaicin?

The chemical compound capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) is the active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals including humans and produces a sensation of burning in the mouth. Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as a secondary metabolite by chili peppers, probably as deterrents against herbivores. Birds are generally not sensitive to capsaicinoids; pet parrots often love to eat even the spiciest curry or hot pepper as a snack. Pure capsaicin is a lipopilic colorless odorless crystalline to waxy compound.

Capsaicinoids

Capsaicin is the main capsaicinoid in chili peppers, followed by dihydrocapsaicin. These two compounds are also about twice as hot as the minor capsaicinoids nordihydrocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin, and homocapsaicin. Dilute solutions of pure capsaicinoids produced different types of pungency; however, these differences were not noted using more concentrated solutions.

Capsaicin
Chemical structure of capsaicin

3D model of capsaicin

Systematic name (E)-N- (4-hydroxy-
3-methoxybenzyl) -
8-methylnon-6-enamide
Molecular formula C18H27NO3
SMILES CC(C)/C=C/CCCCC(NCC1=CC
(OC)=C(O)C=C1)=O
CAS number [404-86-4]
Molecular mass 305.41 g/mol
Melting point 62 - 65 C

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