Black pepper is the fruit of the black pepper plant from the Piperaceae family and is used as a spice and also as a medicine. The chemical piperine, present in black pepper, causes the spiciness. It is native to the southern state of India, Kerala. From ancient times, black pepper is one of the most widely traded spices in the world. It is not seasonal and is, therefore available throughout the year.
Because of its antibacterial properties, pepper is also used to preserve food. It is a source of manganese, iron, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K and dietary fiber. Black pepper is a very good, anti-inflammatory agent.
The health benefits of black pepper include the following:
- Good for stomach: Pepper increases the hydrochloric acid secretion in stomach and thus, helps digestion. Proper digestion is essential to avoid diarrhea, constipation and colic. Pepper also helps to prevent formation of intestinal gas. Pepper-added diet promotes sweating and urination.
- Helps to lose weight: The outer layer of peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells. Hence, peppery foods are a good way to help you shed weight.
- Good for skin: Pepper helps to cure Vitiligo, which is a skin disease that causes some areas of skin to lose its normal pigment and turn white. According to researchers in London, piperine contained in pepper can stimulate the skin to produce pigment. Topical treatment of piperine combined with ultra violet light therapy is much better than the other treatments for vitiligo. It also reduces the chances of skin cancer due to excess ultraviolet radiation.
- Relief for cough and cold: In Ayurveda pepper is added in tonics for cold and cough. Pepper gives relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion.
- The antibacterial property of black pepper helps to fight against infections, insect bites etc. Pepper added diet helps to keeping your arteries clean.
- Good antioxidant: An antioxidant, like pepper, can prevent or repair the damage caused by the free radicals and thus helps to prevent cancer, cardiovascular diseases and liver problems.
- Enhances bioavailability: Black pepper helps in transporting the benefits of other herbs to different parts of body.
- According to Ayurveda, black pepper also helps avoid ear-ache and gangrene. It is also good for conditions of hernia, hoarseness and insect bites. It relieves joint pain.
- It is a good treatment for respiratory conditions like asthma, whooping cough etc.
- It is used to treat conditions of tooth decay and toothache. In ancient times, pepper was also used to treat eye problems.
Preparing grounded pepper powder at home is better than buying ready-made pepper powder. But even home-made powder retains its freshness for only up to 3 months. Whole peppercorns can keep their freshness indefinitely.
Thus, adding a pinch of black pepper to every meal helps improve taste and digestion. It also improves your overall health and well being.
Precaution: Pepper may cause sneezing. Patients who’ve undergone abdominal surgery should not take pepper added diet because pepper has an irritating effect on the intestines. It is also not good for people with ulcers. Black pepper should not be taken in high concentration.