Black pepper is a world famous condiment and medicine. It has been in use from time immemorial. It is available in market as whole or fine powder. Black pepper is often found on the dining table along with table salt. It is added to soups, vegetables, salads, sauces, and gravies to enhance the taste. It is added to fresh fruits to enhance taste. Perhaps there is no other spice, which is used as commonly as black pepper.
The black pepper turns White pepper when the outer coating or pericarp is removed (or blanched).For this purpose, the black pepper is soaked in water and then peeled off. The white pepper is low in essential oils.
Maricha or Marich are Ayurvedic synonyms of black pepper. Its use as Ayurvedic medicine is mentioned in classical Ayurvedic treatise. Black pepper is used either alone or with other ingredients to treat variety of disorders. It has carminative action and used in flatulence, gas, bloating and indigestion. It is also used in arthritic diseases and paraplegia. It is warming and helps to relieve the symptoms of cold and cough. It stimulates appetite, gives relief in indigestion and nausea. It stops vomiting in cases of cholera. Black pepper is indicated in dyspepsia, flatulence, gonorrhea, cough, hemorrhoids, intermittent fevers, piles, elephantiasis, and malarial / intermittent fever.
Black pepper is one of the ingredient of famous Ayurvedic formulation Trikatu or Trikuta, the three pungent. Trikatu is useful in both digestive and respiratory ailments. It reduces Vata and Kapha but increases Pitta. Pitta increasing properties helps in indigestion, low appetite and assimilation. Due to thermogenic action it thins the cough and helps in easy removal from the body. As it pacifies Vata or wind, it is effective in Vata vyadhis such as arthritis, gout, joint inflammation and flatulence. It is also an effective insecticide against houseflies. Pepper sprays is used in gardens against several kinds of pests.
Black pepper or Piper nigrum, is tropical climbing perennial, flowering vine. It is cultivated for its fruit, which is dried drupes of the pepper plant and used as a spice, seasoning and medicinal powder.
The stem is cylindrical, dichotomously branched much thickened at nodes. Leaves are simple, alternate, 12.7-17.5 cm long, ovate-oval, broadly-ovate or ovate-oblong to nearly orbicular, rounded or more or less cordateat base and oblique, acuminate acute, 5-9-veined (outer ones often faint), coriaceous, glabrous, – paler beneath, petioles 2.5-3.7 cm long and stout.
Flowers are bisexual, sessile in axils of fleshybracts with 2 lateral bracelets arranged in leaf-opposed spikes 5 cm long, slender, bracts oblong, upper part free concave, very obtuse; perianth absent; stamens 2, anther 2-celled.
Ovary is superior, unilocular with a solitary erect ovule. Fruit is nearly globose, at first dark green about 6 mm long changes orange-yellow to dull red when ripe.
Flowering takes place in September and January.
The botanical name of is Piper nigrum. It belongs to plant family Piperaceae.
Piperaceae is a large tropical family, having more than 10 genera and approximately 1500 species. This family belongs to class dicotyledons but due to its unique anatomical features it resembles monocotyledon.
Piperaceae family comprises of two larger genera, Piper and Peperomia. The genus Piper, the largest in the family, occurs throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Most important economic species of this genus include Piper nigrum, Piper betle (Paan / Betle leaf), Chavya (Piper cubeba) and Piper longam (Pippali / long pepper).
Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Magnoliidae
- Order: Piperales
- Family: Piperaceae – Pepper family
- Genus: Piper L. – pepper
- Species: Piper nigrum L. – black pepper
There are many varieties of black pepper grown in India. They differ in yield, pungency, shape and size.
- P. nigrum Linn. var. aimpirian
- P. nigrum var. cheriakaniakadan
- P. nigrum var. chumala
- P. nigrum var. kalluvalli
- P. nigrum var. karimunda
- P. nigrum var. kottanadan
- P. nigrum var. nedumchola
- P. nigrum var. neelamundi
- P nigrum var. palulata
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: fruits
Plant type: Vine
Distribution: Indigenous to South India cultivated from Konkan Southwards, especially in North Konkan Kerala, and also in Assam.
Now grown in many countries such as West Indies, South America, Sumatra, Penang, Borneo and Philippine Islands and in Sri Lanka in the moist mid and low-country.
Habitat: Hot and moist parts
Native: Humid forests of the Malabar Coast of southwestern India
Unani Properties: Mizaj (Temperament) Hot2 Dry2
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Scientific name: Piper nigrum
- Sanskrit / Ayurvedic: Katuka, Kola, Kolaka, Krishna, Maricha, Mrishta, Pavita, Ruksha, Sarvahita, Shakanga, Tikshna, Ushana, Vallija, Vara, Varishtha, Vellija, Venuja, Venuka, Vrittaphala, Yavanapriya
- Hindi: Golmirch, Kalimirch, Safed mirch
- English: Black Pepper, Pepper
- Sinhalese: Gammiris
- Tamil: Aguttam, Arisu, Irambivam, Kallinai, Kandanaguli, Kari, Karyam, Kolagam, Malaiyinmunivan, Marisam, Milagu, Milaku, Milaguvalli, Sevviyam, Sur, Tirangal, Uchiram, Valliyam, Vellaimulagu
- Siddha: Milagu
- Unani: Filfil Siyah
- Chinese: Hu Jiao (Hu Chiao), Hei Hu Jia, Bai Hu Jiao, Woo Jiu
- French: Poivre Commun, Poivre Blanc, Poivre Noir
- German: Pfeffer, Grüner Pfeffer, Schwarzer Pfeffer; Weißer Pfeffer
- Japanese: Burakku Peppaa, Koshou, Peppaa, Pepaa
- Spanish: Pimient
Constituents of Piper Nigrum
Black pepper contains an acrid resin, an oleoresin, a volatile oil, starch, gum, a fatty oil and inorganic matter besides the alkaloids, chavicine, B-methyl-pyrroline, piperidine and piperovatine.
1. Alkaloid Piperine (2–6%) major constituent, Piperidine, Piperonal
2. Essential oil from fruits contains alpha- and beta-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, limonene, terpinene, p-humulene, its oxides, selinene, camphene, linalool, terpineol and nerolidol in varying amounts
3. Fixed oil
Basic nutrients (Per 4.28 grams)
- Calories 10.88
- Calories from fat 1.24
- Calories from saturated fat 0.36
- Protein 0.48 g
- Carbohydrates 2.76 g
- Dietary fiber 1.12 g
- Fat-total 0.12 g
- Saturated fat 0.04 g
- Vitamin A IU 8.12 IU
- Vitamin A RE 0.80 RE
- A-carotenoid 0.80 RE
- A-beta carotene 4.88 mcg
- Thiamin-B1 0.00 mg
- Riboflavin-B2 0.00 mg
- Niacin-B3 0.04 mg
- Niacin 0.04 mg
- Vitamin C 0.88 mg
- Vitamin E alpha equiv 0.04 mg
- Vitamin E IU 0.08 IU
- Vitamin E mg 0.04 mg
- Folate 0.44 mcg
- Vitamin K 6.88 mcg
Indications of Black Pepper
- Asthma, cough, throat inflammations
- Digestive stimulant, indigestion, low appetite
- Promotion of sweating, fever, malarial fever
- Stress, anxiety
- Diuretic, urinary disorders
- Cholera, vomiting
- Detoxifying body
Health Benefits of Black Pepper
Black pepper contains piperine. Piperine has the ability to inhibit growth of Gram–positive, rod-shaped, anaerobic bacteria, Clostridium botulinum which on ingestion can produce the neurotoxin botulinum.
- It increases bioavailability.
- It lowers cholesterol level.
- It increases peristalsis.
- It has warming effects on body.
- It stimulates the activity of the heart and kidneys.
- It increases secretion of bile.
- It increases secretion of saliva and gastric mucous.
- It is an antidote for shell-fish and mushroom poisoning.
- It influences liver and metabolic functions.
- It is warming, drying and stimulating to the circulatory, digestive and respiratory systems.
Important Medicinal Properties
Piper nigrum is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Abortifacient: Induces abortion.
- Analgesic: Relieve pain.
- Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
- Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of infectious agents.
- Antipyretic/antifebrile/febrifuge: Effective against fever.
- Antistress: Reduces stress.
- Antiaggregant: Decrease platelet aggregation and inhibit thrombus formation
- Anticatarrhal: Remove excess mucous from the body.
- Antidiabetic: Manages or control diabetes.
- Anthelmintic: Antiparasitic, expel Parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
- Anti–obesity: Reducing or controlling obesity.
- Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
- Cholagogue: Promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.
- Diaphoretic: Promote sweating.
- Hepatoprotective: Prevent damage to the liver.
- Hypotensive: Lowers blood pressure.
- Rubefacient: Produces redness of the skin on topical application by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation.
- Thermogenic: Heating
Externally, it is used as a rubefacient and counter-irritant.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action of Marich or Black Pepper
Piper nigrum is known as Marich or Maricha in Ayurveda. It is pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya). It reduces Vata and Kapha but increases Pitta. Since it is pungent after digestion, it causes constipation. It is considered drying and damaging to the production of reproductive fluids.
Green maricha is Madhur Vipaka and heavy to digest. It eliminates Kapha.
Maricha mainly works on plasma, blood, fat, marrow and nerve. It is used as a mendicine in treatment of digestive, respiratory and circulatory system.
- Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp), Ruksha (Dry)
- Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
- Sleshmhara: Reduces phlegm
- Deepana: Promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food
- Chedan: Discharge from the body adherent phlegm or other humours
- Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
- Vatahara: Pacifies Vata Dosha
- Pittakar: Increases Pitta
- Medohar: reduces obesity
- Ruchikarak: Improve taste
- Shirovirechana: Purges Doshas of head
- Jantughna: Kills parasites
Ayurvedic Medicines Of Black Pepper
- Trikuta / Trikatu Powder
- Marichyadi Vati
- Marichyadi Tailam
- Mahamarichyadi Tail / Taila (Oil)
Medicinal Uses of Piper nigrum
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) or kali mirch is available in our kitchen as spice. It is aromatic and pungent in taste. The oral intake of this spice improves secretion of bile, enzymatic secretions and thus supports better digestion. It helps in diarrhea.
Black pepper increases bioavailability of medicines. It improves metabolism and aids in weight loss. Black pepper is hot in potency and gives relief in cough.
Nutritionally, it is excellent source of Manganese and good source of iron, vitamin K and fiber.
1. Cold and cough
Mix black pepper powder in milk and drink to cure seasonal cold and cough.
Or you can drink mint tea with black pepper.
2. Chronic cold and cough
Take 1 black pepper on first day and increase by one on next day. Keep increasing one black pepper for next 15 days. From 15 day decrease black pepper by one and keep decreasing for next fifteen days.
4. Chronic dysentery
Intake of black pepper powder is helpful.
Take slice of lemon and sprinkle salt, sugar and black pepper on it. Lick lemon until the hiccups stop.
Take black pepper powder with honey / milk.
Mix black pepper, desi ghee and Mishri. Take this to get relief from hoarseness.
8. Gas trouble or flatulence
Take 1 cup of water. Add lemon juice (1/2 teaspoon), black pepper powder (1/4 teaspoon), Black salt and drink.
Cut lemon in half. Apply black pepper powder, black salt on it and lick
10. Idiopathic diarrhea
Boil, 1 g black pepper + 15 g Ginger for half an hour, in one liter of water. Fitter and drink.
11. improving memory
Take few black pepper corn and ground it into a fine powder, add one tablespoonful of honey to it and take it twice daily.
12. Low appetite
Mash a banana in a bowl of curd and add a pinch of pepper to it and take it once daily.
Decoction of 15g fresh roots of Solanum xanthocarpum and 5 pieces of black pepper is taken twice a day for 10 days.
Traditional remedy is to, pound one Betel leaf with 10 grains of black pepper and to take with cold water for at least two months.
15. baldness and alopecia
The paste of black pepper is applied.
Dosage of Piper nigrum
The recommended dosage is Powder 250 mg to 1 gram.
Black Pepper Tea Recipe and Benefits
Black pepper is prescribed as an effective cure for indigestion, fever, delirium (acute confusional state), piles etc. You may be wondering how much black pepper to take in a day for using this condiment for medicinal purpose. The standard dosage of black pepper is approximately 500 mg to 1g, eaten twice and thrice a day.
Recipe of Pepper tea
- Boil a cup of water on stove.
- Add black pepper powder ¼ -1/2 teaspoon in this boiling water.
- You may also add ginger juice (optional).
- Boil for 2-3 minutes.
- Steep for few minutes.
- Add honey and drink as tea twice or thrice a day.
Benefits of Pepper tea
- Antioxidant, reduces free radicals
- Gives relief in symptom of cold, cough, respiratory problems and fever
- Relieves pain during menstruation
- Good for improving digestion, appetite and digestive system problems such as gas, diarrhoea
- Increases bile acid secretion from liver and saliva production
Caution while taking Black pepper
Individual having pitta prakrati should take pepper cautiously as it increases pitta inside body.
Persons suffering from ulcers, inflammatory condition of digestive organ, urticaria, skin rash, and high pitta should avoid black pepper use as it can aggravate the problems.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Piper nigrum
- Do not use as a medicine in pregnancy. It contains Piperine which has abortifacient action. In many parts of world, it is used to cause abortion.
- It should not be taken with alcohol.
- It should be taken cautiously in digestive inflammations and high Pitta conditions.
- Low dose is safe for long term use.
- Do not use high dose (>5g per day) for long periods of time.
- It is hot in potency.
- Excess use aggravates Pitta Dosha.