Black Pepper / Piper Nigrum Information
Fruit, essential oil.
TRADITIONAL HERBAL USES AND MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
In Western medicine Black pepper is known for its active constituent piperine. This phyto-chemical is known to calm the nervous system, reduce fevers, relieve pain, and also have an anti-inflammatory effect. It is also an anti-fungal and anti-oxidant. Black pepper is also known to be stimulating to the circulatory system, and is a Rubifacient, which means to bring blood to the skins surface.
Black pepper is therefore good for poor circulation, it is good for reducing fevers, and it is excellent for muscle and joint pain. It is a warming remedy and is indicated for use in stomach pains, flatulence and indigestion.
In Ayurvedic medicine black pepper has been used traditionally for many conditions. Black pepper is used to aid digestion, improve the appetite, treat coughs, colds, breathing and heart problems, to treat colic, diabetes, anaemia and piles. Stomach ailments such as dyspepsia, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea are all treated with black pepper. In Ayurveda the peppercorns are valued for a range of properties including its hot, light and anti-flatulent effects.
FOLKLORE AND HISTORY
Black pepper powder can be mixed with Ghee (clarified butter) and applied to rashes, angry skin conditions and excema, this is an age old folk remedy.
Black pepper was found in the nostrils of the Egyptian pharoah king Ramesses II, it is thought to have been used in the mummification process.
Long pepper was traded as early as 4BC, however Black pepper was rarer and more expensive. It was to be found in Greece at this time. Pliny the elder talks of the price of pepper in Rome in 77BC, it was a favourite in Roman cookery.
Pepper was used as currency, as the spice routes fell into the hands of the likes of Attila the hun, then onto the persians, and then Arabs.
Pepper found its place next to salt as a preserving agent for meat, its anti-microbial qualities helped meat stay fresh longer, and certainly masked the taste of partially rotting meat, but it was only affordable by the wealthy in the middle ages.
However as trade routes increased the price of pepper fell, even today, pepper accounts for one-fifth of the world's spice trade.
Black pepper contains a volatile oil (including beta-bisabolene, camphene, beta-caryophyllene, and many other terpenes and sesquiterpenes), up to 9% alkaloids (especially pipperine, largely responsible for the herb's acrid taste), about 11 % proteins, and small amounts of minerals.
TYPICAL PREPARATIONS AND DOSAGE
Medicinally it is used in the powdered form, it is often mixed with ginger, cumin, cloves and salt. The powder is often made into a decoction and drunk. It can be applied topically by mixing with clarified butter/ ghee, or other preperations.
A recommended dose of 2-6 grams daily of the powdered black pepper.