According to a 2010 report in the journal Nutrition Today, by researcher Dr. Keith Singletary, black pepper is the most commonly used spice worldwide, and its extracts have been used as a folk medicine in a variety of cultures. Piper nigrum is used for the production of both black pepper and white pepper. In ancient Sanskrit literature, benefits of black pepper and its use for medicinal purposes were documented. In India, it was one of the most commonly used herbs in Ayurvedic medicine and has been considered for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and, even more recently, of chronic malaria. The benefits of black pepper are many and it was also used for the treatment of epilepsy in traditional Chinese medicine.
Researchers Murlidhar Meghwal & T.K. Goswami from IIT, Kharagpur in India, in their 2012 study in the journal Open Access Scientific Reports, suggest that black pepper is the dried unripe berries and it gives peppercorn. Peppercorn is dried fruit which has not reached the full ripening stage and it is the main part which is communicated and used as spice and seasoning. In common language, peppercorn is referred to as black pepper and it is the most consumable part of a pepper plant. The name ‘Pepper’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Pippali’, meaning “Berry”.
Singletary & team, suggest that black pepper constituents include fibre, essential oils, piperine, eugenol, the enzyme lipase, and minerals. Piperine is the major factor responsible for the pungency and irritant action of black pepper. The chemical piperine is the major bioactive component present in both black and white peppers and individually has numerous reported physiological and drug-like actions similar to those reported for black pepper.
According to Meghwal & Goswami, India is known as “The Home of the Black Pepper”. Historically black pepper was termed as “The Black Gold” because of its commercial, economic and trade value.
Pepper is known as a health-improving natural medicine that increases digestive power, improves appetite, cures a cold, cough, diseases of the throat, intermittent fever, colic, dysentery, worms, and piles. It stimulates the circulatory system. It possesses a broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. Black pepper shows analgesic (alleviate pain), antipyretic (reduces fever), and anti-inflammatory actions, with piperine having been shown to be one of the active compounds in such cases. Black pepper and its volatile oil are used in the food and food items for providing the benefits of black pepper and to aid a) Digestion b) Relieve gas c) Treat food poisoning d) Stomach chills e) Cholera f) Dysentery g) Vomiting caused by hypothermia.
In a 2016 report by researcher Krishnapura Srinivasan, from the Central Food Technological Research Institute, in Mysore, Karnataka, India, suggested that black pepper has been used as a spice in India since prehistoric times: it has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2000 BC. Black pepper has been known in China since the 2nd century BC. The pepper trade was first dominated by China, which imported black pepper in mass quantities during the 14th to 16th centuries. Pepper was introduced into Sumatra at the beginning of the 15th century, where pepper cultivation and mass production grew exponentially. It is also recorded that the preciousness of these spices led to European efforts to find a sea route to India and consequently to the European colonial occupation of that country, as well as to the European discovery and colonization of the Americas.
It is also known that black pepper was once used as a food preservative. Although it is difficult to believe that in the Middle Ages pepper was used as a preservative for meat. Moreover, in the Middle Ages, pepper was a luxury item, affordable only to the wealthy. Having been an item exclusively for the rich, pepper started to become more of an everyday seasoning among those of more average means.
Black pepper figures in remedies in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani medicine in India. The 5th century Syriac Book of Medicines prescribes benefits of black pepper (and long pepper) for such illnesses like constipation, diarrhoea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay, and toothaches. Black pepper was relied upon to treat specific conditions such as diarrhoea and fevers, but it appears that its extensive generalized use was to enhance the effects of many herbal remedies.
Ayurvedic physicians have been prescribing long pepper and black pepper (both of which are now known to contain piperine) for thousands of years, a practice that may have enhanced the pharmacological actions of other compounds in traditional herbal medicines. It is a vital ingredient of many remedies in the traditional Ayurvedic system of medicine in India. Black pepper is a component of “Trikatu” (three acrids) along with long pepper (Piper longum) and ginger (Zingiber officinale) in equal proportions. Trikatu is widely used in combination with other Ayurvedic medications according to the ancient Ayurvedic Materia Medica (600–300 BC). Very few compound prescriptions are free from these three acrids. Trikatu aims to correct the imbalance of the three “doshas” (psychophysical components of the human body) that can lead to disease. The three acrids cures the three disordered humours-Vata, Pitta and Kapha and helps to maintain normal health.
Benefits of black pepper are specifically cited in Ayurveda to internally treat fevers, gastric and abdominal disorders, and urinary problems. Medicinal external treatments with black pepper include treatments for rheumatism, neuralgia, and boils. Piper nigrum is also used to treat alopecia. Possible uses and benefits of black pepper in Indian folk medicine include the treatment of respiratory diseases, dysentery, pyrexia, and insomnia. Black pepper is part of an herbal folk remedy relied upon by mothers to treat their children’s diarrhoea.
Once black pepper reached China, it was incorporated into traditional Chinese medicine. Benefits of black pepper are cited for its digestive stimulant action — to make food enter the large intestine channels to “warm the middle, disperse cold, drive the food downward while dispelling phlegm, wind-cold, and relieving diarrhoea.” This is caused by stomach cold, characterized by vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. The benefits of black pepper have also been seen in China as a folk remedy for epilepsy.
According to World’s Healthiest Foods website, Black pepper (Piper nigrum) stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. Benefits of black pepper have long been recognized as a carminative, (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas), a property likely due to its beneficial effect of stimulating hydrochloric acid production. In addition, black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties.
Indian researchers, Dr. Majeed & L. Prakash, in their 2000 study in the journal International Pepper News, suggested that black pepper and long pepper were among the spices from India on which the Romans levied import duty at Alexandria, around A.D. 176. Pepper is mentioned by Roman writers in the fifth century A.D. It is said that Attila the Hun demanded, among other items, 3,000 lbs. of pepper as a ransom for the city of Rome. Centuries later, the high cost of pepper led the Portuguese to seek their own sea passage to India. The Portuguese were successful in this mission and monopolized the spice trade until the 18th century. In January 1793, an agreement was made between the Rajah of Travancore and the Crown of England. The Rajah was to supply large quantities of pepper to the Bombay Government in return for arms, ammunition, and European goods. This is known historically as the “Pepper Contract”.
Almost everyone recognizes that the black pepper sprinkled on their food makes it taste spicy or “hot”. The hot flavour is even stronger when the pepper is used fresh. Pepper’s heat is no accident—it is a manifestation of the biological activity of some of the phytochemicals found in pepper, most notably piperine.
In a 2017 study in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, an Iranian research team, led by Leila Gorgani, in ancient Chinese and Indian medicine, several benefits of black pepper were there and black pepper was used as a natural medicinal agent for the treatment and alleviation of pain, chills, rheumatism, influenza, muscular pains, chills, and fevers. In tea form, benefits of black pepper were also credited for relieving migraine headaches, strep throat, poor digestion, and even coma. It was also used for enhancing the circulation of blood, increasing the flow of saliva, and stimulating appetite.
According to a 2014 study in the journal Medicinal & Aromatic Plants, by Saudi Arabian research team of Zoheir A. Damanhouri and Aftab Ahmad, Piper nigrum is commonly known as Kali Mirch in Urdu and Hindi, Pippali in Sanskrit, Milagu in Tamil and Peppercorn, White pepper, Green pepper, Black pepper, Madagascar pepper in English.
Piperine exhibits diverse pharmacological activities like antihypertensive and antiplatelets, antioxidant, antitumor, anti- asthmatics, antipyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, antidepressants, hepatoprotective, immunomodulatory, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-thyroids, anti-apoptotic, anti-metastatic, anti-mutagenic, anti-spermatogenic, anti- Colon toxin, insecticidal activities, etc. Piperine has been found to enhance the therapeutic efficacy of many drugs, vaccines, and nutrients by increasing oral bioavailability by inhibiting various metabolizing enzymes.
According to Meghwal & Goswami, ayurvedic medicine uses pepper mixed with ghee (a buttery type of compound) to treat external problems, nasal congestion, sinusitis, skin eruptions, epilepsy. Piperine increases the bioavailability of valuable phytochemicals present in food items and can boost the activity of biochemically active compounds contained in it. Since the discovery of black pepper’s active ingredient, piperine, the use, and the benefits of black pepper has caught the interest of modern medical researchers.
Black pepper’s bioavailability enhancing properties makes it one of the most important Spices. It should add to recipes and meals as often as possible because it boosts the medicinal value of many spices and other foods. Piperine extracted from the pepper is a bioavailability enhancer that allows substances to remain in cells for longer periods of time. It contains several powerful antioxidants and is thus one of the most important spices for preventing and curtailing oxidative stress. It has been found that piperine can increase absorption of selenium, vitamin B, beta-carotene, and curcumin as well as other nutrients. In a 1998 study in the journal Planta Medica, a research team from St John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India, led by Shoba Guido, found that piperine enhances the bioavailability of curcumin by approx 2000%.
By increasing the bioavailability of other anti-tumor spices, the benefits of black pepper dramatically increase their potency and effectiveness against cancer. Black pepper counteracts cancer development directly. It’s principal phytochemical, piperine, inhibits some of the pro-inflammatory cytokines that are produced by tumor cells. In doing so it interferes with the signaling mechanisms between cancer cells, thereby reducing the chances of tumor progression. Collectively, these properties make black pepper one of the most important spices for preventing cancer.
Black pepper exhibits an immunomodulatory effect on the human body. It is able to boost and supports the number and the efficiency of white cells and assists the body to raise a powerful defence against invading microbes and cancer cells.
HOME REMEDIES OF BLACK PEPPER
Author of the text ‘Black Pepper’, P.N. Ravindran of the Indian Institute of Spice Research, Kerala, in his book, suggests that there are a number of home remedies and benefits of black pepper in India known to grandmas using pepper, which are highly effective and rather inexpensive.
- Milk boiled with pepper powder and sugar-candy and taken at night after dinner will facilitate better assimilation of food and thereby formation of Rasadhatu, the first body tissue directly formed from the essence of food.
- For cataracts, itching in the eyes, etc., pepper ground in the juice of tamarind leaves is applied in the eyes.
- For severe headaches, pepper paste prepared in water is applied on the forehead. The application of the same paste on eyelids eliminates inflammation.
- Black pepper powder with honey and saliva of horse applied on eyes is a good remedy for hypersomnia.
- Powder five to seven black pepper and mix with half a teaspoon of butter and one teaspoon of honey. Place the paste in the mouth and chew it while swallowing saliva. This is repeated daily on empty stomach for a period of two to three months. This treatment will clean the circulatory system and also coronary blood vessels.
- After frying well three or four leaves of a pepper plant in gingelly oil, kept it over the vertex in a lukewarm condition. After an hour, the leaves are removed and oil is wiped off with a dry cloth. By this application, congested cold and neuralgic pains are completely removed and the nose is cleared enabling normal breathing.
- Powder of black pepper boiled with gingelly oil and applied to the head before bath prevent the attack of coryza and neuralgic pain,
- The fresh stem of the pepper plant heated over a hearth or steam and the juice extracted and mixed with a little salt and used as an ear drop in the lukewarm state cures earache and heals oozing from the ear.
- Two teaspoons of black pepper powder and one teaspoon of cumin powder are boiled in a litre of water. After the volume is reduced to half a litre, add the juice of one or two lime and a little salt for taste. Flavour them with a few curry leaves and mustard seeds. This drink, which is most relishing and carminative, removes all sorts of neuralgic pains and colds and is useful in all debilitated conditions even during and after fever,
- A mixture of black pepper powder, curd and jaggery is given orally against sinusitis and rhinitis at the initial stage,
- Grind 3gms. of black pepper with the juice of Tulsi Take it repeatedly to eliminate cough and sputum. A very small dose of this may be given to children for the same effect.
- Take the paste of black pepper powder, honey or sugar candy and butter daily to eliminate chronic cough,
- Toast one spoon of black pepper and grind with Tulsi, boil the paste with one cup of water and allow it to cool. After sweetening, drink the liquid thrice a day for stimulating digestion,
- Take equal parts of black pepper and ginger and boil with eight glasses of water. Reduce the volume and take 1 or 2 spoons of this extract with honey 2 or 3 times a day to control several types of fever.
- Grind a few black pepper corns with one teaspoon of salt-less butter. Take this preparation in small repeated doses against food poisoning, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
BLACK PEPPER & FAT BURN
In a 2010 study in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology & Biochemistry, a Japanese research team, led by Y. Okumura investigated energy metabolism enhancement by pepper by examining the suppression of body fat accumulation in mice due to piperine and black pepper intake. To induce adiposity, mice were fed a high-fat, high-sucrose diet as a control diet for 4 weeks. Results showed that black pepper suppresses the effect of body fat accumulation mainly through the action of piperine.
In a 2011 study in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, by an Indian research team, led by Shreya Shah, explored the effect of piperine in obesity-induced dyslipidemia. In the study rats were fed a high-fat diet for the first eight weeks, to develop obesity-induced dyslipidemia. Later on, piperine (40mg/kg) and sibutramine (5mg/kg) were administered for three weeks along with the continuation of a high-fat diet to two separate groups.
Researchers found that supplementing piperine with high-fat diet significantly reduced not only body weight, triglyceride, total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL, and fat mass, but also increased the HDL levels, with no change in food intake. The above results suggest that piperine possesses potential fat reducing and lipid-lowering effects, without any change in food appetite.
In a 2012 study in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, by a Korean research team, led by Ui-Hyun Park, attributed piperine to have the power to stop making new fat cells, thus leading to potential treatment for obesity-related diseases.
But, all the studies supporting the use of benefits of black pepper for treating obesity, are either done in the lab on cells chemically grown in a lab, or in mice, who were fed a huge amount of piperine, which is not possible for a human to ever consume, even with supplementation.
In a 2013 study in the journal Functional Foods in Health & Disease, a US research team led by, Annalouise O’Connor, determined the impact of benefits of black pepper on 24-hour energy expenditure, respiratory quotient, metabolism, and satiety, in a study of black pepper (0.5mg/meal) versus no pepper control, conducted in post-menopausal women.
This study suggests that acute consumption of 1.5g of black pepper is well tolerated and significantly increases circulating piperine. However, this dose does not influence 24-hour energy expenditure, respiratory quotient, or biomarkers of satiety in post-menopausal, overweight Caucasian women.