The Health Benefits of Black Pepper
Used in everyday cooking, black pepper, or piper nigrum, is a common spice and seasoning in many kitchens. Native to India, pepper comes from a flowering vine which is “cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. When dried, the fruit is known as a peppercorn” (Wikipedia). This spice is one of the most used spices in almost all the countries of the world. In use since the ancient times, this spice not only is a flavor enhancer for many meat dishes, soups and salads, there are many health benefits to using black pepper.
Black pepper is rich in antioxidants. We need these to protect our bodies against free radicals or damaged cells. These damaged cells will attack the good ones and damage them as well. The antioxidants found in black pepper play a key role of destroying the bad cells before they cause any further damage.
Black pepper is a spice to keep on your rack if you want to protect your heart from diseases since it is a natural blood thinner. When you have high levels of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, your arteries get clogged up with fatty buildup. This causes high blood pressure, because your heart has to work faster to move the blood through the arteries. This in turn can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Black pepper helps the liver prevent cholesterol from absorbing into the cells of the body. Including this spice in your daily diet helps reduce the chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
Colds and Flu Symptoms
Black pepper is an excellent cold and flu remedy. It contains a chemical called piperine. This is the chemical that makes people sneeze when they get some blown in their faces. While this might seem like an annoying spice, this chemical is also an excellent expectorant property. This spice helps with cold symptoms such as:
- Sore Throat
- Chest Congestion
In addition to the expectorant properties, the antibacterial properties of black pepper help reduce infections that your body may develop to complications of colds and the Flu. These include sinus infections and upper respiratory infections.
For a tea to kick away your cold and flu symptoms, add a half teaspoon of pepper to a cup of tea. This is excellent in clearing up chest congestion and coughs as well as reducing fevers and pain.
While you can purchase black pepper at any grocery, you can purchase black pepper oil at your local health food store. Rubbing this on your chest makes an excellent chest rub.
Black pepper helps our stomachs increase hydrochloric acid secretion. This is necessary for good digestion. When our bodies do not have enough hydrochloric acid, “food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion” (WHFoods). This spice helps increase mucous production in the rectum, which helps prevent constipation. This spice also contains carminative properties which help prevent the buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract and reduces the likelihood of embarrassing flatulence. Other disorders of the digestive system that you can treat with this spice include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Black pepper is a natural pain reliever because of its anti-inflammatory properties. People who suffer from headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, sore muscles, muscle spasms, sore gums, toothaches, arthritic pain, gout, sprains and joint and muscle pain can find immediate relief by including this spice in their diet. This spice is also considered to be a rubefacient which “produces redness of the skin e.g. by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation" (Wikipedia). If you have cold hands and feet, dilute a teaspoon of black pepper essential oil with olive oil. Rub your hands and feet with this mixture. You will have warm hands and feet at no time at all. Note: Never consume essential oils. Many are unsafe to be taken internally.
Black pepper contains anti-bacterial properties which are effective in preventing cuts, scrapes, burns and insect bites from getting infected. The astringent properties in black pepper are excellent for not only acne, eczema and psoriasis, but also for cold sore, fever blisters, sun burn and poison ivy rashes.
Black pepper, as with all natural remedies, can interact with medications and supplements that you may be already taking. Talk to your doctor if you plan to use this spice for medicinal uses.
Herbal Treatments Using Black Pepper
If you have a toothache or have sore gums, mix a teaspoon of black pepper with a teaspoon of ground cloves. Rub this mixture around the aching tooth or on your sore gums. This helps relieve inflammation and relieve pain.
If you have a cold or have a cough, mix a half teaspoon each of black pepper and ground ginger along with a teaspoon each of honey and lemon juice in a cup of warm water. The expectorant and soothing properties of these ingredients will help relieve the cough and other symptoms associated with colds and the flu. This same drink is excellent if you have heartburn and other disorders of the digestive system.
Another annoyance when it comes to cold and flu season is a plugged up nose. To help you breathe better, mix a teaspoon of black pepper with a teaspoon of olive oil. Dad a little of this mixture under each nostril and inhale the aroma and your nasal passages will be cleared up in no time at all.
If you have sore muscles or joints, mix a teaspoon each of black pepper, cumin and ground ginger with two tablespoons of coconut or vegetable oil. Massage these on you aching parts for relief.
While black pepper helps with many health ailments and conditions, always see your doctor if they do not go away or if they get worse. Always talk to your doctor before using this spice, since it can interact with medications and supplements that you may be already taking.