Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is known as the "King of Spices" because of its strong aroma and is widely used in all major cuisines around the world. Black pepper is cultivated for its fruit which is usually dried and then used as a spice or seasoning known as peppercorn.
If one needs to use ground pepper, it should be freshly done since grounded or powered pepper tends to lose its flavor very fast. The spice is native to Kerala in South India. Ancient Ayurvedic textbooks and Vedas mention usage of Black pepper as a wound-healing agent. The medicinal properties of Black pepper can be attributed to the presence of a chemical compound called piperine. It acts as a natural antioxidant and has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Black pepper is an excellent source of Vitamins A & K; of dietary fiber and is rich in minerals like iron and calcium. Besides this, it also helps in lowering body cholesterol.
Anti-Diarrheal property: It has been found out that piperine reduces oil-induced fluid secretion and hence peppers are added in traditional antidiarrheal formulations.
A remedy for Cough and Sore throat: Consumption of tea or soup laced with crushed black pepper cures cold and cough. It also clears chest congestion.
Helps in weight control: Helps in breaking down of extra fat and improves metabolism. It also helps to get rid of intestinal gases and reduces bloating. (Tip: consume 2 whole peppercorns with a glass of water every morning on an empty stomach to enhance your metabolism)
Anti-Cancer property: Black pepper is loaded with anti-oxidants and presence of vitamins like Vitamin A, flavonoids and carotenes that help in combating cancer.
Pain reliever: Black pepper is good for prevention of arthritis and joint pains. It also reduces a toothache and gum-related disease and its anti-microbial property prevent spreading of the bacteria in the mouth.
Anti-aging agent: Black pepper can be used as an exfoliator that prevents drying of skin and gives a healthy complexion. It also prevents early greying of hair.
Although there is no recommended dosage for the intake of black pepper but most scientific communities agree that the dosage varies between an adult and children. Ideal amount to maximize its health benefits is considered to be 2 gram or 1/4th of a tablespoon per day.
However one needs to be careful about the use and consumption as an overdose can lead to some serious ill effects as follows:
Creates burning sensation in the stomach.
Overdose can cause miscarriage during pregnancy
Direct application on the skin can lead to redness and burning sensation in eyes
Might create kidney stones in susceptible individuals.
Black pepper is a spice that can naturally provide nutritional and medicinal properties. Though a spice that is consumed all around the world as a flavoring, it definitely has hidden values that add value to our diet everyday.
By Sayani Chatterjee
Guest Author and Student of M.Sc Biotechnology
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