Pepper: medicinal properties, method of use and benefits


Piper nigrum





Pepper, scientific name Piper nigrum, belongs to the family ofPiperaceae and it is a plant that is cultivated for its fruits that give a very particular spice and known as "pepper".

The genre Piper it includes about 700 species but only a few are used for their spice and the main one is thePiper nigrum L.

The Piper nigrum it is a perennial, semi-climbing and shrubby plant that reaches even 4-5 meters in height. The leaves are oval-lanceolate, leathery, of a beautiful intense green, long sharp and provided with a thick down on the underside. The flowers are small, white, fragrant, devoid of petiole but collected in spike inflorescences carried by long petioles. The fruits are small berries that contain only one seed. According to the stage of ripeness of the harvest and the type of processing we have the different varieties of pepper: black pepper, white pepper, red pepper, green pepper (see: Aromatic plants: pepper).


Pepper is rich in tannins, starch, terpenes (lipids, essential components of molteresins and essential oils that give the different plants their characteristic aroma), pinene (aromatic compound found in conifers), limonene (alken which has a characteristic lemon scent or orange) etc. which all together give the pepper its extraordinary aroma.

The spiciness of pepper and its phytotherapeutic properties, however, are basically given by piperine, a substance found in both pulp and seed (as opposed to capsaicin in chilli), not very soluble in water, partially soluble in ether but totally soluble in alcohol. Piperine is contained in almost all pepper species but is in the Piper nigrum which is found in greater quantity.

Its properties are linked to the use that has always been made of it: stimulant of digestion and expectorant.

The pepper is also attributed antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic properties and a mild aphrodisiac power.

It is normally used in Ayurvedic medicine to aid digestion, to improve appetite, for those with respiratory problems, diabetes, flatulence and anemia.


The berries are used from which powders are obtained which are used for therapeutic purposes which have up to 95% piperine.


Pepper is used directly on foods, enhancing, among other things, their flavor.


Pepper is universally known as the king of spices. In ancient times it was a very precious commodity so as to be a bargaining chip.


It is not toxic but you should not overdo it in its use. In high doses it can cause irritation of the gastric mucosa. It is not recommended in case of gastritis, ulcer, hemorrhoids and hypertension.


You see: Pepe - The language of flowers and plants.

Green pepper property

Known in medicine since ancient times, green pepper is also a vermifuge, its anti-fermentative and antiseptic properties made it perfect for preservation of meat and as an insecticide.

But it is also able to promote digestion, and to act as a stimulant of the nervous and cardiovascular system. Antibacterial and with febrifugal virtues, in the past it was used to treat constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, oral abscesses and eye problems.

Is green pepper aphrodisiac?

Like nutmeg, the chili pepper and the pink pepper, green pepper is also believed to be a aphrodisiac food. Indeed, it seems that of all vegetables, it is the most effective libido stimulator.

This is because, being unripe, it is able to best preserve its virtues, including mineral salts such as football, phosphorus is potassium. Furthermore, since the active ingredient is present in less quantity than black pepper, it can be consumed with less parsimony.

Are green pepper seeds good for dogs?

It seems that pepper is also good for our animal friends. Not only to dogs, therefore, but also to cats, birds and turtles.

The active ingredients present in pepper, in fact, (as well as the capsaicin present in chilli), has effects only for mammals.

Fruit, spices and aromas are useful in making home food tastier for four legs, especially dogs. Pepper stimulates appetite and is able to reduce nausea and vomiting in sick dogs.

Prefer it to salt, (which causes electrolyte imbalances), and add it during cooking, so that it is not too invasive.


Active principles

The characteristic active ingredient of black pepper is piperine, however, this spice contains many other pharmacologically active molecules, such as pellitorin, guineensine and piperonals.

Traditional Medical Uses

Black pepper (Piper Nigrum L.) is not only a common spice, but also a popular remedy to combat gastrointestinal disorders, diarrhea, digestive sluggishness, toothache and other oral diseases.

Digestive and anti-diarrhea effects

Black pepper can help the stomach, pancreas and intestines function properly.

In particular, according to studies conducted on mice and rats, the consumption of black pepper can stimulate the release of enzymes from the pancreas and intestines which help digest fats and carbohydrates 1 moreover, piperine seems to be able to slow down both gastric emptying and intestinal transit at doses of 1 - 1.3 mg per kg of body weight 2 at higher doses it would induce acid secretion instead gastric, probably through the agonism of gastric histamine H2 receptors 3.

Due to its positive effects on stomach functionality, black pepper can be useful for those suffering from bad digestion, but also of diarrhea.

In fact, animal studies show that black pepper can prevent diarrhea inhibiting muscle spasms in the digestive tract and slowing down the digestion of food 2, 4.

Furthermore, studies conducted on intestinal cells of animal origin found that piperine in doses of 10 mg per kg of body weight produced an antidiarrheal action comparable to the reference drug (loperamide) 5.

Piperine to improve pharmacological bioavailability

Black pepper and piperine can improve the absorption and function of some beneficial nutrients and compounds.

Several mechanisms of action have been proposed to explain this activity, but the most important one seems to be associated with the potent inhibitory action of piperine on hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation 6.

Glucuronidations are chemical reactions of esterification of hydroxyl groups with glucuronic acid, which take place in the body in order to make the molecules more soluble in water, allowing their elimination (generally urinary).

By inhibiting these reactions, piperine increases the oral bioavailability of various substances, such as curcumin and green tea catechins.

For example, it has been shown that 20 mg of piperine administered concomitantly with 2 g of curcumin are able to increase the bioavailability of curcumin itself by about 20 times in humans (+ 2,000%) 7.

Research also shows how piperine can increase the absorption of beta-carotene: a study showed that after 14 days of supplementation of beta-carotene (15mg / day) the group simultaneously treated with piperine (5mg / day) had plasma levels higher beta-carotene 8.

Similarly, piperine also appears to increase the bioavailability of green tea polyphenols (catechins) in rats 9

However, since curcumin can also slow down the metabolism of various pharmaceutical and xenobiotic molecules, this action can become disadvantageous for patients on certain drugs or exposed to harmful xenobiotics.

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Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action

Several studies show that black pepper acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Along with piperine, black pepper contains other anti-inflammatory compounds - including limonene and beta-caryophyllene essential oils - which can protect against inflammation, cell damage, and degenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress.

Free radicals are "aggressive molecules" that are formed during the normal metabolism of the human body. The inability to cope with excess free radicals has been held up to be cause or contributing cause of aging and various diseases and cell damage processes.

Several in vitro and animal studies have demonstrated the interesting antioxidant potential of black pepper 10, 11.

Preliminary studies also highlight the anticancer potential of black pepper, but as with antioxidant virtues, research is currently limited to test tube and animal studies 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

Slimming Action - Does black pepper make you lose weight?

Although it is heavily advertised on social networks, even the slimming action of black pepper and piperine has not been sufficiently confirmed by clinical studies.

A study in mice found that piperine supplementation helped to reduce body weight in rats fed a high-fat diet, with favorable effects on lipidemia as well (increase in good cholesterol and reduction in total and bad cholesterol) 18.

To explain the potential (but still to be confirmed) slimming action of piperine, his has been proposed stimulating action on the body metabolism, which would carry out by increasing the metabolic rate of muscle fibers at rest 19 and the expression of the UCP1 protein, which is fundamental in inducing thermogenic activity at the mitochondrial level 20.

In addition to piperine, the piperonals of black pepper could also be active in promoting weight loss 21.

How to best use it

In the kitchen, pepper lends itself to different uses, it goes well with cheese (famous spaghetti cacio e pepe), meat, fish but also vegetables. Also great the combination with chocolate and dried fruit, you will probably know the famous gingerbread in which pepper is present to give a touch of unmistakable taste to this typical dessert.

Pepper is also used in cooking around the world to make spice blends, among the best known is garam masala and various variations of curry.

Combine pepper well with other ingredients can make a difference. We have advised you several times to add a pinch of this spice every time you use turmeric in order to increase its bioavailability, even in a drink like Golden Milk for example. However, the ideal would be to have the whole black peppercorns is grind them at the moment, in this way the flavor and aroma will be better.

To best keep its properties it is good always add it to hot food at the end of cooking and never expose it to sunlight.

If you want to make the most of its properties for external use, however, you can let it macerate for a few days peppercorns in sweet almond oil and then use it for massages or alternatively use the spice powder.

Mustard: historical notes

The plant is native to the Mediterranean basin, North Africa and Western and Central Asia, precisely in the areas affected by the birth of the first civilizations.

It was the Romans who transferred the custom of season foods with sauces based on crushed seeds and mixed with vinegar, wine or boiled must (ie mustum ardens) from which the word "mustard", To which were also added other spices, including garlic and the inevitable garum (or liquanem).

Charlemagne, to make the best use of the resources produced by agricultural and pastoral activities, issued between 770 and 800 a famous ordinance called the "Capitulare de villis"In which mustard is among other things indicated among those agricultural products processed or packaged by hand, such as fish sauce, beer, wax, flour, etc.

Moutarde de Dijon

Already at the end of the thirteenth century, the preparation of mustard sauce in France it became a real profession which was regulated in 1292 and the "mustards" first met in a guild in Orleans and then in Dijon.

In this city, which has become famous for the quality of mustard with a very spicy taste, the production of mustard sauce was regulated by law and strong sanctions were instituted to prevent it from being produced of bad quality.

Medicinal plant

Mustard continued to be handcrafted for centuries. In those times, even the medicine introduced it into his practices, sometimes questionable, especially that of poultices, which were also called "mustapisms", suggested for the treatment of respiratory tract diseases, often causing skin irritation and ulceration.


With the industrial revolution, techniques were refined and production volumes increased which supplanted traditional manufacturing.

In 1866, Jeremiah Colman developed a method for grind the seeds until they are a very fine powder preventing the heat from altering the aroma and flavor of their oily component and, therefore, improving its taste and aroma.

There mustard for hot dogs was introduced in 1904 with the addition of a little turmeric which made it a bright yellow color, an intuition of Firm French's.

  1. Agricultural Research Service of the Department of Agriculture- USDA.

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