I'm assuming the character (and word/morpheme) 辣 is not a recent creation and goes back far in history.
These days it means "chili/chilli", "pepper", "spicy".
But chili peppers only came to China and Asia generally as part of the Columbian Exchange of the 15th and 16th centures.
So I'm wondering in which ways 辣 was used before chilli peppers were known to the Chinese.
Was it used for other kinds of spices? If so, which, and is it still used for those now? Were other things considered "spicy hot" in those earlier times?
For comparison I know the 麻 of 麻辣 has various meanings besides "numbing" and "Sichuan pepper" such as "hemp" and "sesame".