For people who like their food spicy, it’s the chilli pepper that provides the heat. Chillies are crucial ingredients of cuisines across the world, from Mexico’s Chilli con Carne to India’s Vindaloo. In fact, the chilli has become so iconic that competitions are held to see who can eat the hottest dish. Yet there’s more to the chilli pepper, or Capsicum species, than challenging your friends to eat the hottest item on the menu. Capsaicin, the main active compound that gives the chilli pepper its fiery flavour, is a chemical with some remarkable potential in several different areas.