Eliminating Bacteria with Capsaicin
Caitlin Sankaran-Wee
David Thompson Secondary
Floor Location : M 026 H

In 2013, pneumonia decimated about 935,000 children. With available antibiotic treatment, this may have been avoided.

This experiment aims to use capsaicin from Thai chillies to create a cost-effective and highly accessible antimicrobial, especially for third world countries where they can be easily grown in the ground.

Spiciness comes from the compound, Capsaicin, or C18H27NO3. The hypothesis is that capsaicin contains antibacterial properties, is tangibly hot, and heat is known to kill bacteria. Thus acting as an antioxidant, with oxidation being a factor in bacterial growth.

Petri dishes were plated with agar, and bacteria samples were gathered from the scientist’s home. A paper towel was soaked with capsaicin extract and placed on the bacterial agar plate, which were incubated for three days through a household heater.

Mixed results were observed as bacteria from the microwave button and the sink’s tap handle were sensitive to the capsaicin. Bacteria from a door knob and lock were resistant.

With continued experimentation, testing could be on Habanero and Jalapeño peppers. Also, alterations to the compound would be made to remove its sting but still keeping its antibacterial properties.

This is significantly an organic antibiotic and with popularity in organic diet and medicine, a remedy to bacterial infections would be eating select spicy foods or consuming medicines infused with capsaicin.

Project limitations include lack of proper sterilization procedures. Consistency was also an issue when trying to plate each agar plate equally, placing the plates by the home heater, as the heater turns on and off on a regular basis. With access to proper sterilization, an incubator, and machinery tailored to consistency, capsaicin can definitely be acknowledged as an antibiotic.