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Health Benefits of Black Pepper

Featured image for "Health Benefits of Black Pepper" blog post. Pepper corns growing in the royal park of Benjasiri in Bangkok, Thailand.

*Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Best known for its use in different cuisines around the world, the health benefits of black pepper may prove to be a real low-key treasure when it comes to naturally improving your health and immune system.

In general, black pepper is a basic spice botanically named Peper Nigrum in Latin. In Ayurveda treatment, it carries the title of “the king of spices.” Originally, it is thought to be native to South and Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia and it appeared in history as early as 2000 BCE. The spice was frequently mentioned throughout history and was even discovered in the nostrils of Ramesses II, who died 1213 BCE.

Today its use is most prominent in Indian cooking and folk medicine, specifically in Ayurvedic practices.

The spice as we know it comes from the pepper plant, which is a climbing and bushy flowering vine, easily recognized by its heart-shaped leaves. It usually grows in tropical climates. The black pepper plant is usually round shaped and it is organized in clusters which hold the fruit. Precisely, the fruit is what we know as black pepper. The plant is picked before its fruit, in botany better known as drupes, is ripe, and it is cooked and dried into the spice we use in our diet.

Black peppercorns in the shape of a heart.
The world famous black pepper spice not only adds incredible flavor to a variety of dishes, but may also possess some impressive health benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When freshly picked, it is green, while it owes the black color to the process of drying. The fruit itself is known as peppercorn. In fact, peppercorn usually stands for black pepper exclusively. In addition, there are also two other kinds of pepper: green and white pepper. Green pepper is derived from dried unripe fruit, whereas white pepper is derived from ripe fruit seeds.

Black pepper most frequently appears in two derivatives – as peppercorns and as an essential oil. As previously mentioned, peppercorns are the cooked and dried fruit of the pepper plant. Essential oil is distilled from the dried crushed unripe fruit and is most often used for massages.

At the moment, the largest producer of black pepper is Vietnam. It should be mentioned that the plant itself is recognized as an edible herb, and many eastern cultures believe that it can help improve human health and treat some medical conditions.

Now, the form of this plant that we are all most accustomed to is the powder companion of salt on our kitchen tables. However, it should be mentioned that peppercorns hold greater value and are preserved more easily and for longer periods than pepper powder. Also, when used in cooking, pepper should be added to meals at the last stages of preparing, as the spice loses its specific flavor when cooked for too long. Owing to its antibacterial properties, it could be even used for preserving food.

Aroma spice, black pepper and garlic on a table.
Black pepper’s antibacterial properties may make it an excellent spice to use for preserving food.

Some Possible Effects on Health

Apart from its indisputable role in cooking, black pepper is known to be used in folk medicine, similarly to a great number of eastern spices. Throughout history, different eastern cultures have believed that this plant and its derivatives serve as a remedy for different illnesses. It was thought to cure almost everything from a toothache or insomnia to constipation. The role it had in resolving respiratory problems, colds and anemia are well known and documented in historical writings and it was widely considered to be among natural antibiotics. Furthermore, these claims go as far as including problems like impotence and heart disease in those medical issues that could be relieved by this seemingly miraculous plant.

Black pepper with other cooking ingredients.
Black pepper isn’t just useful for cooking. This spice has also been used in folk medicine remedies for thousands of years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moreover, black pepper has been widely recognized for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This plant’s essential oil is thought to be so strong that it is advised that this oil is applied only topically and locally and in small amounts, as it can be irritative to the skin, especially when poorly diluted. Apart from these, this spice is widely present in cosmetics and aromatherapy, best known for its warming effect and spicy note. It has also been assigned antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

When used for massages, the oil could have pain-relieving effects and may play a great role in muscle recovery. Such a potential effect this oil owes to piperine, which is an alkaloid derived from ammonia present in this spice. It is considered to be helpful in treating pain in muscles, as well as arthritis.

Here are some of the most striking potential health benefits of black pepper.

Summary: While some studies suggest that black pepper has numerous health benefits, more scientific evidence is needed to validate these claims.

Rich Palette of Minerals and Nutrients

Black pepper shaker.
Black pepper is loaded with various minerals and vitamins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black pepper is rich in different minerals and vitamins, starting from manganese and vitamin K as the most common ones. Besides them, this spice and its derivatives are a great source of iron, potassium, vitamin C, as well as chromium and calcium. Matter of fact, with these different minerals and nutrients, using black pepper in the diet could have a positive influence on one’s overall health.

Minerals such as potassium are responsible for keeping the heart rate and blood pressure at reasonable levels. Calcium participates in strengthening one’s bones and teeth. Iron has a very important role in oxygen body distribution. Potassium is also a huge factor in improving digestion and preserving intestinal health. Apart from these, it is suggested by the American Spice Trade Organization that black pepper also contains salt, although in small amounts. For example, it is said that 100 grams of black pepper roughly contains about 10 mg of salt.

Black pepper and salt.
Pepper fans may find it interesting to know that black pepper naturally contains small amounts of salt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moreover, piperine, as one of black pepper’s constituents, is thought to play a considerable role in the way our body absorbs other minerals that are not necessarily present in black pepper. This trait of nutritive absorption is known as bioavailability.

Some recent studies are suggesting that piperine enhances absorption of different nutrients, some of which are selenium, vitamins A and C, as well as different B-complex vitamins, especially vitamin B12. Furthermore, it is believed to have a role in distributing the best of nutrients throughout the human body, thus ensuring better use of food and its constituents. It is believed that one tablespoon of ground black pepper may contain recommended amounts of the aforementioned nutrients, along with proteins, copper and dietary fibers.

Summary: There are some studies that suggest that certain properties of black pepper may improve overall health, although more conclusive studies are needed to say for sure.

Potential Health Benefits of Black Pepper and How It Could Affect the Digestive System

Happy Home Black Malabar Pepper.
Happy Home Black Malabar Pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the most frequently mentioned benefit of using black pepper in your diet has been the fact that it could enhance and ease digestion. The spice owes this potential effect to its specific taste which is said to stimulate certain taste buds which in turn stimulate the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach – an acid that is essential to the digestion process.

The lack of this acid in the stomach may cause interruption of digestion. As a result, food spends more time in the stomach and later on in the intestines where it may go bad and have several negative effects on the digestive system. Some of these negative effects are heartburn, gas, diarrhea and constipation. In Ayurvedic practices, this spice is often used to treat indigestion, usually in combination with different herbs such as coriander, cumin or thyme.

Moreover, piperine may be essential to promoting the health of the digestive system. Since it has been assigned antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it could influence the number of bacteria, lowering the number of bad ones and thus keeping the digestive tract intact and healthy.

Bowl of black peppercorns.
Black pepper may possess numerous benefits for the digestive system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayurvedic practices advise massaging one’s abdomen with a couple of drops of black pepper essential oil in combination with other oils, such as Ajwain, sesame or lemon oil, to help with digestion. Another practical Ayurvedic remedy may be inhaling this oil’s aroma in order to stimulate digestive enzymes and bile secretion.

The most common consequence of poor digestion is constipation which may lead to potentially more serious health problems. Considering the fact that constipation, as well as diarrhea and colic, essentially are conditions triggered by bacteria, black pepper’s antimicrobial traits may prove to be of great use. If it could help ease and improve digestion, the regular use of this basic spice may potentially help in preventing this condition.

Furthermore, the essential oil is said to have some purgative properties, somewhat alike to castor oil. However, whereas castor oil is thought to have several negative effects on the digestive system, black pepper essential oil has shown less of such negative side effects. What it is thought to do is cleaning the intestines and, due to the plant’s antimicrobial constituents, it could stop and even preferably prevent any possible infection of the digestive tract and excretory system. Piperine is generally considered to posses minor laxative effects.

Black pepper is known to be one of the carminatives, which essentially are those substances which could prevent intestinal gas from forming. This property is thought to be related to the supposed effect black pepper has on hydrochloric acid secretion. It is believed to work by forcing gas downwards and out of the body, thus ensuring a healthy function of intestines.

Close-up image of black pepper on black background.
Black pepper may produce some minor laxative effects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When gas is formed in this human system, due to its chemical composition, it is prone to move upwards, thus pressing the midriff and chest cavity, as well as vital organs. This can result in different health problems, both minor ones and more serious ones. Piperine and other carminatives (such as cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garlic or ginger) may be of help in relieving such pressure and ensuring a healthy movement of intestinal gas.

As a natural result of good digestion, weight loss could be considered as one of the benefits of using black pepper in our diet. Studies have shown that the outer layer of peppercorn could help break down fats, thus helping you get rid of those extra layers you have gained. This property is thought to be the result of high levels of chromium present in black pepper which helps increase metabolism and enhance the processing of fats and carbohydrates.

Moreover, proper breaking down of fat cells prevents one from gaining more weight, since decomposed fat cells are far easier for the human body to process. In such way, energy gained from these compounds can be absorbed and applied to healthy bodily functions. Such enhanced breakdowns of fat cells also speed up and increase metabolism, which is essential to preventing obesity.

Apart from this, this rich spice has been assigned diaphoretic and diuretic properties, which could mean that it may promote sweating and urinating, respectively. This way the human body could dispose of toxins and consequently reduce fat. Its diuretic characteristics may be helpful in preventing and treating possible inflammation. Because of this, black pepper is generally considered to be Ayurvedic medicine for weight loss.

Bowl of black peppercorn.
Black pepper has been known in Ayurvedic medicine to potentially aid in weight loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A considerable amount of research has shown that there may be a connection between the use of pepper and peptic ulcers. Including this spice in the diet may potentially help treat gastric mucosal damage, owing to its being one of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods. Although research on this topic is far from over, the use of pepper could possibly help prevent the creation of ulcers or even possibly positively affect the existing ones.

However, it should be clearly stated that using too much of this spice may have negative effects, as well. Excessive consumption of pepper may cause ulcers to bleed and irritate gastrointestinal system. Although there are several benefits suggested, it is recommended that people who have serious conditions of peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis or acid-peptic disease should avoid using this spice in larger amounts, or even altogether if the issues are too severe.

Summary: While it has been suggested that black pepper may help a variety of health conditions, more studies are needed to validate these statements.

Potential Natural Protection of the Cardiovascular System

Bowl of black pepper with a wooden spoon.
Looking for a spice that may improve cardiovascular health? Black pepper has numerous properties that may potentially aid in cardiovascular health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As mentioned before, strong antibacterial properties have been attributed to black pepper, so there is a chance that it may contribute to treating infections and bacteria. It owes these allotted properties, as well as its being included as one of the natural antibiotics, to its reported high levels of vitamin C. When it enters the blood, it is thought that it could in a way keep arteries clean by potentially removing cholesterol stuck to their walls.

In fact, the spice shows the potential to help regulate cholesterol in general. In this way, it could help reduce the danger of heart attack and strokes which are often caused by high levels of said cholesterol and hypertension. Furthermore, it may enhance the overall health of the entire cardiovascular system, or so it is believed.

Another presumable benefit may be due to the high amount of potassium that may play a significant role in controlling one’s blood pressure and keeping it at regular levels. It particularly could help with high blood pressure as it is suspected to have the ability to potentially prevent the sudden increase of the level of blood pressure. Moreover, it is thought to simultaneously be helpful in treating low blood pressure, along with hypertension, as well as certain other cardiovascular problems.

Black peppercorns on a spoon.
Black pepper may be a helpful spice in treating various cardiovascular issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A high content of chromium in black pepper could also be of help in controlling the level of triglycerides, blood sugar and consequently the risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Its antioxidant and free radical scavenging capacity may also reduce cardiotoxicity, according to different studies. Cardiotoxicity is the condition which occurs due to heart electrophysiology dysfunction or muscle damage. In simple words, the heart muscle becomes weaker and thus less efficient in pumping blood which reduces blood circulation.

Heart function may also be improved thanks to vanadium and its compounds, or so the studies have led us to believe. This element has been reported as prominent in black pepper and it may even contribute to recovering the heart health after myocardial infarction and pressure overload–induced hypertrophy.

Summary: While it has been claimed that black pepper may be able to help some heart conditions, more scientific evidence is necessary to validate these claims.

Terrapin Mountain Spices Whole Black Pepper.
Whole Black Pepper

Possible Home-Made Remedies for the Respiratory System

Apart from being presumably beneficial to the cardiovascular system, black pepper’s antibacterial properties may come in handy when fighting with different bacteria. It is believed that, long-term, it could also contribute to strengthening our immune system, as well. The constituents of this spice and its oils are thought to be efficient with restricting harmful free radicals.

In Ayurveda treatment, the spice is also used as one of home remedies for a cough and cold. It is believed to have a relieving effect both on the productive and non-productive cough. Ayurvedic practices actually suggest one specific recipe for treating cough, especially one that just won’t go away. Take a couple of peppercorns, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt and make a mixture of them. Then put it into your mouth and hold it there for a couple of minutes. Ayurveda practitioners believe this mixture could stop coughing.

Apart from relieving cough, black pepper may also be helpful in the initial stages of a cold, specifically with the case of running nose. It is also an Ayurvedic practice to take a teaspoon of this spice in its powder form and boil it in milk (roughly one glass). This homemade syrup is to be taken before sleep and it is said that it relieves the symptoms of the cold.

Close up top view on a glass bowl with black pepper next to sweet pepper, onions and garlic with two wooden spoons with powder spices on a burned wooden board.
Dealing with a runny nose? Black pepper may be able to help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matter of fact, Ayurveda practitioners believe that black pepper may help with different respiratory issues, specifically when discovering how to get rid of a stuffy nose. In the case of phlegm stuck and blocking the respiratory channels, constituents of black pepper may help with ejecting it. This belief comes from the fact that black pepper has strong antimicrobial properties which could presumably weaken the phlegm.

There is again a home-made remedy that Ayurveda offers. A mixture of black pepper, cumin seeds, cinnamon and cardamom should be made by grounding each of them apart and then together. Such a mixture could help eliminate a nasal block when sniffed three to four times a day. If you’d prefer not to sniff anything, a hot tea with some black pepper may provide relief, as well.

Furthermore, Ayurveda believes that this spice and its oil are beneficial to people when treating different conditions of the respiratory system such as asthma, sinus congestion, respiratory infections, as well as chronic bronchitis. In particular, when dealing with nasal congestion, chest congestion or other respiratory problems, a popular Ayurvedic cure is often mentioned as a potential remedy. It consists of hot milk to which a pinch of ground pepper and a pinch of ground turmeric are added.

Bowl of ground black pepper.
Black pepper may be helpful in dealing with respiratory problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, if you prefer black pepper essential oil, a drop of it added to a cup of warm water could also have such relieving effects. However, this mixture is not for drinking, just for gargling. This way, it could help cure a sore throat and treat throat infections. This oil could also be used for inhalation. About two drops of it added to steaming water could help with dealing with cold, flu, nasal blocks or even mere headaches. It is also said to potentially improve blood circulation of the lungs.

It should be mentioned here that some people may consider sneezing and coughing caused by this spice as one of its negative effects. There are certain studies that suggest this happens because piperine irritates the nostrils. However, sneezing and coughing may actually help with ejecting phlegm and such fluids and masses, and in it toxins and bacteria, out of the human organism. This way the body naturally cleans the sinuses.

Its diaphoretic and diuretic properties may also combat fever. Along with its antiseptic properties, pepper essential oil may help maintain normal body temperature. Ayurveda suggests massaging patients’ foot soles with a few drops of this oil mixed with a drop of cardamom oil and olive oil. These actions could enhance sweating and urinating which is the body’s natural way of purging toxins and battling the excessive growth of harmful micro-organisms.

An indirect way in which pepper could help with improving one’s respiratory system comes from a recent study conducted by Nicotine Research Laboratory of the V.A. Medical Center, Durham, NC. The study suggests that a vapor of black pepper essential oil may serve as a method to suppress smoking withdrawal symptoms. It was reported that pepper seemingly reduced cigarette cravings in a group which inhaled a vapor of pepper oil and that it also helped with the patients’ anxiety. Future studies, the researchers who conducted this experiment say, are expected to confirm that black pepper may have a significant role in dealing with nicotine withdrawal.

Summary: Although it has been suggested that black pepper may help with some respiratory problems, not enough scientific evidence exists to validate these claims.

Lit cigarette with smoke.
Trying to quit smoking? Some studies suggest that black pepper may be able to help with withdrawal symptoms.

Some Presumptions about the Potential Role of Black Pepper in Fighting Cancer

An even more significant property of black pepper may be its potential role in fighting cancer, if scientifically proven right. Since it is believed to curb the action of free radicals, researchers also believe that its constituents could potentially slow down the activity of some types of cancer. The American Institute of Cancer Research has even listed black pepper as one of two top possible remedies for cancer prevention. These properties probably stem from its high content of vitamin C and antioxidants which may be helpful when fighting progressing tumors. In fact, its antioxidant properties could even help repair the damage which free radicals may have made to a patient’s body, or so it is presumed.

Under free radicals we include all byproducts of cellular metabolism. These attack cells that have a regular, healthy function and trigger different dangerous DNA mutations which result in the formation of cancerous cells. Such compounds may be annihilated by antioxidants thus protecting the health of body cells and ensuring their natural function, which is why black pepper is among those natural foods that are believed to have the potential to play a significant role in the fight against the dangerous disease.

Dr. Joshua Lambert, Associate Professor of Food Science at Penn State University, claims that piperine may perhaps prove to be a powerful anticancer combatant. He stated that piperine’s influence on other substances’ bioavailability may be essential to increasing bioavailability of EGCG (Polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate) when combining the two with green tea. This way, the absorbed ester, which is a type of catechin is believed to enhance the body production of killer cells which may in turn help to destroy cancerous cells. In particular, Colorado State University reported that a conducted research suggests that the combination of turmeric and black pepper may decrease breast cancer stem cells.

Black pepper shaker.
It’s possible that black pepper might be useful in fighting the proliferation of free radicals within the body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayurvedic treatment offers a recipe for a massage oil which may help with fighting free radicals. This particular oil is a mixture of 5 drops of black pepper oil, 5 drops of lemon oil, 5 drops of orange oil, 5 drops of cardamom oil and 10 ml of coconut oil. It is believed to be a natural way of preventing the formation of free radicals. This practice also suggests adding 2 drops of black pepper oil, 2 drops of cardamom oil and 2 drops of orange oil to a warm bath presumably in order to strengthen the immune system which plays a significant role in defending the body against harmful free radicals and their reactions.

Summary: While it has been suggested that black pepper may have some anti-cancer properties, more conclusive studies need to be conducted in order for these claims to be verified.

A Possible Natural Pain Killer

Black pepper essential oil is often mentioned as a potential remedy for sore muscles and joints. With its belonging to family of anti-inflammatory foods, it is considered to be potentially helpful for alleviating pain. This oil may be used for massages of sore parts or can even be added to different products that are used to treat painful spots. Since it’s said to have a warming effect, the oil could improve blood circulation which in return is expected to ease the pain. Due to this fact, this treatment may help to alleviate even arthritic and rheumatic pains and gout. Its mild effects on alleviating pain could also be seen in treating different muscle aches and gangrene.

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that rheumatism stems from too many accumulated toxic substances, as well as salt and uric acid and water deposits in the joints. This can lead to inflammations which consequently lead to pain. Black pepper essential oil could help the disposing of such excessive substances by promoting sweating and urinating in which way toxin levels may be reduced.

Black peppercorns with wooden spoon and shaker.
Interestingly, it is suggested that black pepper might possibly be effective as a natural pain killer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ayurveda relies on a recipe for these issues which consists of 2 drops of black pepper oil mixed with 2 drops of Frankincense oil and 2 ml of coconut oil. This oily mixture should be used to slowly massage the sore spot in circular movements. Apart from relieving pain, this particular mixture may also help reduce swelling and redness, as well as other possible skin irritations, since it is thought to bear strong analgesic properties.

Sportsmen and physical workers may also want to try another Ayurvedic recipe for muscle relaxation. To a hot bath, add 2 drops of black pepper oil along with 2 drops of lemon oil and enjoy as your muscles relax, according to Ayurveda. To enhance the effect, you could follow such a bath with a massage using black pepper oil.

Summary: While some claim that black pepper may act as a natural pain killer, more scientific evidence is needed to verify these claims.

What Black Pepper Could Do for Your Dental Cavity

Black pepper powder on a dark rusty background.
Suffering from a toothache? Black pepper may potentially help in providing some relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black pepper has also been mentioned as a potential soothing remedy for toothaches. Due to its assigned antiseptic properties, it is believed to prevent tooth decay and even to heal gum swellings. In particular, when it comes to gum and possible inflammation, this spice may contribute to resolving different kinds of issues from painful to bleeding gums. It is even said to potentially eliminate bad breath. Ayurvedic practices suggest mixing salt and pepper with a couple of drops of water and use this pasty mixture to massage the aching gums so as to potentially fix these issues.

Considering teeth themselves and potential toothaches, these traditional practices suggest a slightly different remedy. A pinch of ground black pepper mixed with clove oil could reduce pain when applied to the aching tooth, or so Ayurvedic practitioners claim. Massaging teeth with pure ground pepper may also contribute to keeping your teeth clean and shiny white when used on a regular basis.

Summary: While studies suggest that black pepper may aid some dental conditions, more studies need to be conducted to validate these claims.

Black Pepper and Its Effect on Beauty

Beneficial effects of this spice may also include a significant contribution to the way you look on the outside, besides possibly nourishing the insides. The most frequently mentioned effect that black pepper may have on the skin is that it could heal small cuts and scrapes, as well as bruises. Specifically, when applying the essential oil to the wounded area, it may speed up the process of recovery and healing. This presumption comes from this spice’s proclaimed antibacterial properties. These properties could help stop bleeding and destroy possible bacteria and viruses that can infect the wounded area.

Black peppers peppercorns and ground powder from transparent pepper mill over white marble texture background. Top view.
Cosmetologists may be surprised to know that black pepper may have numerous potential cosmetic applications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spice, in different forms, is believed to be useful for dealing with different skin problems, from pimples and acne to allergies. Ayurvedic treatment often mentions warm water mixed with ground pepper as a potential home-made remedy that could achieve great results. However, this easily made remedy offers no easy miracle – you should try to be persistent and apply the tonic twice a day for a longer period before you may notice some improvements.

Thanks to specific antioxidant traits, the spice may even stop the clock for you. It is said to have conspicuous effects on premature aging, as it could help eliminate fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots which started appearing way too early. While it cannot make us all forever young, adding this spice may have a potentially rejuvenating influence on your skin.

There is even a recipe for a home-made exfoliating scrub that may work wonders on problematic skin. Crushed peppercorns with their original essential oil are said to efficiently remove dead skin cells and help with exfoliation. This is also another way in which this spice could help purge toxins from the human body while simultaneously feeding the skin with useful nutrients. Regular use of this spice, both in nutrition and as a tonic or scrub, may even prevent new acne from appearing after a longer period of use.

When it comes to skin allergies, especially the troubling seasonal ones, this pepper may prove to help with them as well. Specific liquor is suggested by traditional alternative medicines, decocted through the process of boiling black pepper with thyme, licorice root, cardamom seeds, basil and ginger. This specific decoction is recommended to be taken up to two times a day in order to possibly eliminate redness, swellings and other changes on the skin caused by allergies.

Top view of a spoon of sandal wood with black pepper seeds isolated on a white background.
Black pepper has been suggested to be potentially effective in treating a variety of skin conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certain research deducted in London suggests that black pepper may also treat and cure Vitiligo, a specific skin disease due to which parts of skin change their natural pigmentation and turn to white. As in many cases, piperine appears to be the key component for possibly curing this disease. Scientists suggest that this component could stimulate the production of pigment in the skin. Combined with the treatment with ultraviolet light, this natural remedy may have a greater effect than different aggressive, chemical treatments. Besides that, piperine may also prevent the appearance of skin cancer, or so the first studies suggest.

Apart from the clearly visible skin, black pepper could treat the skin on the scalp, as well. According to Ayurvedic practices, a natural shampoo based on black pepper may prove to be the best possible solution for potential scalp issues, especially those concerning dandruff. The recipe for such shampoo sees a teaspoon of ground pepper mixed with roughly a bowl of curd. This mixture should be applied on the scalp and left there for about half an hour. After washing it off, one should not use a shampoo or else the possible effect of this home-made remedy may be reduced.

However, this is to be done with the greatest attention. Putting too much pepper may cause the scalp to burn, thus creating an uncomfortable feeling and causing irritation.

Even hair seems to benefit from this spice. A teaspoon of ground pepper and lemon seeds may result in a shinier and softer hair when applied to both the scalp and hair. The mixture should stay on the head for 10-15 minutes before washing. In this case as well, shampooing the hair after may only reduce the positive effect.

Summary: While it has been suggested that black pepper may help certain skin conditions, there is not enough scientific evidence to verify these statements.

Woman blow drying hair.
Applying black pepper and lemon seeds to the scalp and hair may result in a greater shine and softness.

Potential Improvement of Cognitive and Neurological Health

While the spice is generally believed to relieve stress, its essential oil may annihilate fatigue and listlessness, as well. Piperine again arises as the key element here, as some studies suggest that it may have several potential anti-depressive properties. Since it is said to stimulate the nervous system and simultaneously trigger serotonin production, it seems logical to consider it as a possible natural anti-depressant. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and it regulates moods and mood shifts. Research has shown that when serotonin is at a low point, depression is often reported in patients.

Apart from serotonin, piperine also seems to help increase beta-endorphins in the brain which could result in mental clarity and an improved cognitive capacity. Endorphins, in general, serve as mood improving mechanisms and may also have some pain relieving properties. Apart from this, they appear to reduce the feelings of anxiety and melancholy along with improving cognitive function. This is why black pepper seems to be a perfect non-expensive solution for people with a hectic lifestyle full of anxiety and worries, since it may serve as a possible natural stress-relieving remedy.

Different studies have also suggested that piperine could reduce memory impairment, as well as cognitive malfunctions in general. It seems to stimulate specific chemical pathways that are located in the brain which gives hope to researchers that this compound could have positive effects on Alzheimer’s patients, as well as patients suffering from dementia and other cognitive malfunctions, whether they were caused by age or by some negative influence of free radicals.

Black peppercorn bowl.
Black pepper may actually improve mental functioning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, according to Medline Plus (the website of the National Institutes of Health), the spice could stimulate synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids, which is considered to be a significant element for ensuring a healthy brain function.

Black pepper may also ensure a better flow of oxygen and its distribution to the brain which could contribute to a better blood circulation in the head and thus to better brain function. This is why some eastern cultures recommend inhaling black pepper essential oil during meditation. Ayurveda also offers a recipe for a so-called brain tonic which is easy to prepare and which is said to promote the brain function as well as cognitive capacity.

It is made by shallow frying some Brahmi herb leaves in clarified butter better known as desi ghee. Near the end of this process, some black pepper and a pinch of sugar should be added moderately. This tonic is said to even improve vision and enhance eyesight.

Summary: While some have suggested that black pepper may help with some cognitive and neurological issues, more studies need to be conducted to know for sure.

Other Possible Health Benefits of Black Pepper

Black pepper shaker on table.
It’s amazing that such a small, common spice could have so many potential health benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certain folk medicines often mention that black pepper and its oil may serve as an effective remedy for treating diabetes. Its constituents are believed to control the levels of insulin in the body thus both potentially preventing and treating diabetes. Specifically, it is chromium that is thought to have a positive effect on metabolizing insulin. Piperine is also believed to possibly help cure malaria. The spice is thought to be so beneficial that it is sometimes recommended for treating animals, as well. In particular, the spice is believed to kill maggots.

Returning to human medicine, the spice is often mentioned as a potential remedy for colon cancer. Some studies even describe piperine as presumably having anesthetic properties. Apart from these conditions, black pepper is suggested as a potentially good remedy for anorexia or loss of hunger, due to the fact that it is believed to stimulate the taste buds, the property mentioned in the previous section discussing potential effects that this spice may have on digestion.

Along with these benefits concerning health, black pepper may also prove to be useful when fixing some problems concerning domestic hygiene and housekeeping.

Summary: There are numerous studies that suggest that black pepper may have various health benefits, but you should always consult a doctor before consuming black pepper with the intent of achieving any medicinal results.

Possible Negative Effects

Close up of black pepper.
While the health benefits of black pepper may be numerous, it is important to consume black pepper in moderation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost all negative effects seem to stem from the excessive use of this spice, so one should be aware that it is to be used in moderation. Providing too much of this spice and its components to your body may drive all the aforementioned positive influences to the extreme, up to the point when they could actually do you harm.

People with serious medical conditions should consult their doctors about the use of pepper, especially when they intend to increase the dosage. The spice may only worsen some conditions, especially those related to the digestive system. It should be especially avoided during summer because the body already loses a lot of fluids through sweating. Too much pepper which also promotes sweating and urination may cause dryness and thus dehydration.

Among those who definitely should avoid using this spice, apart from the aforementioned, are women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as small and weak children and infants. If you use some drug or medicine regularly, do consult your doctor about the use of pepper, since its components may interfere with their effects. Anything more than culinary doses, which amount roughly to half a spoon or even less depending on each person and their build, is an amount that should be previously approved by your doctor.

Final Thoughts on Black Pepper

Although it is usually considered to be just a condiment, this spice is thought to have several important roles in enhancing one’s overall health, which includes both prevention and treatment of diseases. Apart from its antimicrobial properties, it is considered to be one of the natural antibiotics. It is believed to be a potential solution for different medical conditions, from preserving heart health to learning how to get rid of a stuffy nose.

Champion Medium Ground Black Pepper jar.
Champion Medium Ground Black Pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specific possible health benefits of black pepper on different health aspects have all been mentioned and explained in previous sections.

There is an interesting comparison between Western and Eastern civilization that this spice triggers. Whereas Western countries use this spice almost exclusively for seasoning the food, Eastern cultures always highlight the medical reason behind the inclusion of this plant and its fruit in their cooking. In particular, Ayurvedic practices offer amazing insight into different potential health benefits of this seemingly amazing and wondrous spice.

It should be mentioned that specifically Ayurvedic practices use peppercorns almost in all versions – as whole fruits, as well as grounded and cracked ones. It is perhaps the most frequent spice in use due to the fact that it goes well with almost all other spices and herbs. Moreover, another advantage of it, and probably another reason why it is so prominent, is the fact that it is available at any time of the year.

Assortment of spices.
Black pepper is definitely a spice you should add to your kitchen cabinet! There may be many potential health benefits to be gained as a result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you decide to include pepper in your nutrition on a regular basis, consider buying peppercorns rather than powder. There have been cases when the presence of some other adulterated powders was reported and this may reduce the benefits of this spice. Furthermore, peppercorns may be stored and kept indefinitely, whereas pepper powder is only good for little more than three months, after which it loses its freshness and its positive properties reduce in power.

*Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.