The Miraculous Chilli

By Neil Case

The Bali Times

SANUR, Bali ~ Last issue we looked at chilli as a treatment for serious health problems. Before dealing with the cultivation in the home garden, let us look at the contribution chilli can make to less serious health issues on a day-to-day basis.

•     Stimulant  -  Ingested chilli increases blood flow, especially to peripheral vascular systems, hence the flushed face and sweating.

•     Tonic  -  With a high vitamin content and its ability to produce endorphins (the so-called runner’s high), chilli is a “feel-good” food.

•     Saliva  -  Chilli causes the salivary glands to produce more saliva, which is the first step in the digestive process. Contrary to popular belief, chilli generally improves digestion and certainly does not cause stomach ulcers; however it may cause you to hiccup.

•     Alterative  -  Facilitates beneficial changes to the body – helps the body’s drive to restore normal health.

•     Rubefacient  -  When used as a paste externally, it reddens the skin by increasing local blood flow. As a counter-irritant, it helps relieve muscular and arthritic pain.

•     Carminative  -  Works to prevent the formation of gas in the intestines and assists with its expulsion.

•     Anti-coagulant  -  Helps prevent the formation of blood clots thereby lessening the risk of strokes or heart attacks.

•     Digestive  -  It has been known for centuries that chilli has strong anti-bacterial and anti fungal properties. It is also effective in the treatment of parasitic worms in the digestive tract.

Endorphins are neuro-transmitters produced in the body and released as a painkiller. Their effect is best-known to those who exercise a great deal. As well as being a strong analgesic, they also produce a strong feeling of happiness and wellbeing. They reduce high blood pressure and are possible new treatments for cancer.

To relieve muscular/arthritic/rheumatic pain, put a split chilli in warm vinegar and steep for a few hours. Soak a cloth in the liquid and place it over the affected area. Alternatively pound chillies and chopped ginger to a paste and rub it into the skin. Add some sorbolene cream to the paste to assist absorption.

At the first sign of coughs, cold and flu, make this soothing tisane: Place two cloves of crushed garlic, half a teaspoon of ground ginger, one tablespoon of honey, the juice of one lemon and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper in a pre-warmed ceramic cup. Add boiling water, cover and allow draw for 10 minutes. Strain, reheat, drink.  Take as often as needed.

Chillies are very successful in deterring cats and dogs from precious plants in your garden. Dogs in particular hate chilli powder – just sprinkle it on plants and any places where you don’t want the dog to go.

To stop cats from marking their territory with their smelly urine, spray the following mixture around your garden whenever necessary: Puree a whole bulb of garlic with one teaspoon of chilli powder in a blender goblet with a little lukewarm water. Add more water to total one liter. Cover and steep for two hours, then strain and use.

Make your own all-purpose, organic insecticide by boiling together in one liter of water three chopped chillies, half a sliced onion, one clove of chopped garlic. Remove from heat, cover and steep for two days, strain; controls caterpillars, weevils, blackfly, aphids and other leaf/sap sucking insects; suitable for indoor and outdoor plants.

Chilli powder dusted over cabbages, tomatoes, etc. will kill caterpillars – especially the white cabbage moth.  Keep always on hand in a jar with a perforated lid and use as needed.

Growing your own chillies in Bali couldn’t be easier – once established they will often self-seed. They belong to the same family as tomatoes and their cultivation needs are very similar. Although needing full sun, my experience here is that they do better if lightly shaded during the hottest part of the day.

They like to be kept moist but not wet, so ensure that they have good drainage. Grow either in a garden bed or in pots. Seed is commercially available, but I simply shoved a few dried pods into the ground and kept them moist. I always bury my kitchen scraps (not meat scraps – they smell) in the garden for compost, and am continually supplied with tomato and chilli seedlings which obligingly come up from these.

If you source your seeds as above you will possibly only get Cabe lombok (finger-length), Tabia bali (shorter and bulbous), Cabe rawit (small and fiery – the Thais call these rat droppings because of their size and shape). Other types, such as jalapeno, may be available as imported seed.

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