Black pepper is one of the oldest spices known to men. Today, black pepper is one of the most common spices in the world and it is found in almost every kitchen. It is used to flavor food, but did you know that there are also many health benefits of black pepper?
History of this spice goes all the way back to early Indian texts such as Susruta sloka 27 & 61 dating around 600 BCE – 200 CE. Black pepper was also found in the tomb of Ramesses II, dating back to 1213 BCE. China knew about black pepper as early as the 3rd century BCE and it is also mentioned in Lu Guang’s fork in the 6th century CE. Europe probably knew about the spice by the 4th or 5th century CE. Marco Polo (1254–1324) said that black pepper was so sought after in the East that it was often used as a currency.
You can grow black pepper if you live in a tropical climate to harvest and dry. Otherwise it is very easy to buy black pepper since it is sold in every grocery store. It is so easy to incorporate this spice in your meals. It is best to purchase a black peppercorn grinder to get a fresher flavor.
How to Consume Black Pepper Medicinally?
Health benefits of black pepper include anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used to treat many conditions including seasonal flu, cold, fever, headache, and stomach worms. Black pepper is also used to improve circulation. Black pepper essential oil has febrifuge, antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is also used in skin care products.
It is important to use the health benefits of black pepper in moderation since this spice is strong and warm, so it can only be consumed in small quantities. Otherwise it can cause excessive heat related reactions inside the body or on the skin. There is no information on what is the maximum safe dose of black pepper. It is better to stick to the dose suggested in supplements.
There are no known negative effects using the health benefits of black pepper other than it may trigger asthma symptoms and sneezing in some people. It can also irritate the intestines.
- Combine jaggery (raspadura or panela in Spanish) with crushed black pepper to treat indigestion.
- Place peppercorn and clove between teeth to relieve toothache. Essential oil of clove and black pepper can do the same effect.
- Add equal amounts of black pepper powder with sea salt to treat pyorrhoea and gum inflammation. Massage gently the gums and gargle until the inflammation heals.
- Massage pepper oil combined with a carrier oil to treat arthritis and sore muscles.
- Make a decoction using 2-3 peppercorns, 1-2 cloves, some ginger, 2-3 holy basil or regular basil and a bit of honey once it starts cooling. Drink the tea once or twice per day.
- Chai Masala is a traditional Indian tea which combines herbs and spices including black pepper.
Health Benefits of Black Pepper
Antioxidants have the ability to fight cell damage from free radicals, which are unstable atoms that damage human cells. Black pepper and its main element, piperine, can reduce oxidative stress on cells according to a study. Health benefits of black pepper may even slow down tumor growth since they can protect against free radicals.
These antioxidants found in black pepper also have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the main cause of disease including cancer, liver disease, atherosclerosis and aging.
In vitro (test tube) studies show that health benefits of black pepper may be beneficial in fighting cancer, especially prostate and breast cancer.
One of the main health benefits of black pepper is its ability to help absorb other nutrients. This is particularly true in the case of curcumin, which is a chemical found in turmeric that gives the rhizome its color. You can grow turmeric at home and make your own mixture or buy turmeric and black pepper supplements.
Turmeric is another traditional Indian spice used in Ayurvedic medicine. Health benefits of turmeric include its anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent and treat most chronic diseases as inflammation is the usual cause of disease.
Health benefits of black pepper help improve the digestive process. Piperine in black pepper stimulates the release of digestive enzymes, which are needed to avoid symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, excessive gas, weight loss and fatty stool. Black pepper helps speed up the digestive process.
People with gastrointestinal disorders may benefit from the medicinal properties of black pepper. However, it should be avoided by those who have stomach ulcers since it can cause irritation if the stomach’s mucosal lining is damaged. All spicy food should usually be avoided for patients who are recovering from a stomach ulcer.
Daily consumption of black pepper can reduce the possibilities of getting stomach cancer and Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori. This bacteria, which is quite common especially in children, attacks the lining of the stomach. Over time it can lead to stomach ulcers since the protective mucosal lining is damaged.
Antibacterial properties of black pepper can prevent bacteria from growing on food. Health benefits of pepper can also be used for natural food preservation. A study concluded that black pepper chloroform extract has antibacterial effects against Escherichia coli, or E-coli, a common bacteria that causes foodborne illness.
Studies show that piperine can lower blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the chance of getting heart disease, stroke and other problems.
High cholesterol puts a person at risk for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death. A study suggest that health benefits of black pepper can reduce cholesterol uptake in cells. It can also help decrease body weight and lipid levels.
Piperine extract can help control blood sugar since it can lower it. A study showed that health benefits of black pepper lowered blood sugar in diabetic rats when given in low doses, but raised it when given in high doses.
Brain and Mental Health
A study done on rats found that one of the health benefits of black pepper is its ability to fight neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Different doses of this spice helped improve neurodegeneration and memory impairment. Piperine can also repair myelin, a protective covering around nerve cells. Damaged myelin leads to memory problems and cognitive issues since this slows down the electrical impulses between nerves.
Black pepper can also be beneficial for people who suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS) which is an autoimmune disease which destroys the myelin sheaths of nerves.
Another study discovered that black pepper can help fight depression and anxiety. This spice can even help protect brain cells against stress.