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Pepper-Related Patents

Over the past twenty years, a number of US patents have been issued for inventions utilizing peppers or capsaicin. I have gathered a representative collection to illustrate the technical versatility of the pepper. I have also included a patent for a product that alleviates the effects of pepper spray, which is a capsaicin-based tear-gas type product used by many US law enforcement agencies, and apparently by repressive regimes in other countries as well. I figured that this patent might be useful information to some Readers.

A good number of the recent patents seem to be focused on pain-killing creams, rubs, and salves that use capsaicin as an active ingredient. By varying the other components, or by finding new components that augment the activity of capsaicin, one inventor can 'get around' a prior patent and possibly obtain a patent of his own. Thus, there are a number of patents for the same basic type of product, although only a few are listed here. Those listed were selected randomly and without prejudice.

If you want to see a more complete listing of pepper-inspired patents, go to the US Patent and Trademark Office web site, and search for capsaicin, chile, or capsaicinoids in the title, abstract, and keywords.


US Patent #4,546,112
Method for preventing or reducing dipilatory irritation

Inventors: LaHann, Thomas R.; Farmer, Ralph W.
Date: Oct. 8, 1985
Assignee: The Procter & Gamble Company
Abstract: A method for preventing or reducing dermal irritation caused by thioglycolate depilatories by applying capsaicin and/or its salt(s) to at least a portion of the depilated area.


US Patent #4,997,853
Method and compositions utilizing capsaicin as an external analgesic

Inventors: Bernstein, Joel E.
Date: Mar. 5, 1991
Assignee: Galenpharma, Inc.
Abstract: A method and composition for treating superficial pain syndromes incorporates capsaicin in a therapeutically effective amount into a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier and adding to this composition a local anesthetic such as lidocaine or benzocaine. The composition containing the anesthetic is then applied to the site of the pain. A variation on the treatment includes initial treatment with the composition containing the local anesthetic until the patient has become desensitized to the presence of capsaicin and subsequent treatment with a composition omitting the local anesthetic.


US Patent #5,383,478
Low tar and low nicotine cigarette adapted to provide enhanced smoking satisfaction

Inventors: Rose, Jed E.; Behm, Frederique M.
Date: Jan. 24, 1995
Assignee: Duke University
Abstract: A low tar cigarette product and method of use which enhances the sensory impact of low tar and low nicotine cigarettes in order to increase their acceptability and reduce the likelihood that smokers will exhibit compensatory smoking during use thereof. The novel cigarette utilizes an irritant selected from the group consisting of one or more constituents from black and/or red pepper, capsaicinoids, and mixtures of the foregoing in the tobacco thereof. Subsequent to igniting the tobacco and inhaling from the cigarette, the irritant creates respiratory tract sensations in a user substantively similar to those obtained by inhalation of tobacco smoke from a conventional cigarette.


US Patent #5,569,673
Capsaicinoid compounds as proliferation inhibitors

Inventors: Morre, D. James; Morre, Dorothy M.
Date: Oct. 29, 1996
Assignee: Purdue Research Foundation
Abstract: N-Acylated catecholmethylamines are used to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Specifically, capsaicin is found to inhibit growth at low concentration, but not normal cells.


US Patent #5,599,803
Synergistic insecticidal compositions comprising capsicum and insecticidal use thereof

Inventors: Hainrihar, Gary C.; Dubberly, James G.; Greenlee, John T.
Date: Feb. 4, 1997
Assignee: Kalamazoo Holdings, Inc.
Abstract: Insecticidal compositions, comprising normally-employed insecticides but comprising also an effective activity-enhancing amount of capsaicin or other capsaicinoid, especially in the form of capsicum, exhibit synergistic effects against numerous insects, including especially bud worms, boll worms, cabbage loopers, army worms, beet army worms, and beetles, and are especially effective on cotton, soybeans, common garden vegetables, and flowers, when sprayed on the insect or its habitat, especially as an aqueous solution, suspension, or emulsion. Larger crop stands may be effectively treated by aerial spraying from the usual crop-dusting airplane.


US Patent #5,618,565
Composition for exterminating fire ants

Inventors: Thomas, Michael H.
Date: Apr. 8, 1997
Abstract: A composition of matter for exterminating fire ants. A dry powder composition of matter which consists essentially of sodium bicarbonate, a powdered acid, an ant attractant, and a deterrent for animals, birds and insects other than fire ants, such as red chili powder or capsaicin, has been found to selectively kill fire ants, once eaten by the ants or taken into a warm, moist ant mound. The composition does not harm humans, cattle, horses, birds, rodents, etc., and also will not harm black, red, or sugar ants.

Author's Note: As anyone who has dealt with fire ants will tell you, they are brazen little beasts from hell, and they are pretty tough to get rid of. I used M-80s on fire ant beds with excellent results in my foolish youth; the above invention would probably be much safer. Disclaimer: The Author does not advocate the use of any explosive as an insecticide.


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Source: US Patent and Trademark Office



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