Black pepper is a spice made from the berries of a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, which are picked before they are ripe, when they are still red in colour. They are exposed to sunlight in order to dry them out and blacken them. Did you know that as well as being one of the most commonly used spices in cooking, that black pepper is a multi-functional medicinal plant?
1) Black pepper facilitates digestion
Black pepper stimulates the taste buds on the tongue, which has an effect on the stomach by promoting the secretion of hydrochloric acid. This is why black pepper effectively promotes digestion. Consuming it should reduce any flatulence and bloating that occur due to excess digestive gases.
Certain people with digestion problems suffer especially from hypochlorhydria, which is a reduction in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. When the stomach doesn’t produce enough hydrochloric acid, the body cannot absorb all of the nutrients in its food, particularly proteins, vitamins and essential minerals (such as calcium, zinc and manganese). Furthermore, low levels of gastric acid can lead to bacterial or fungal infections.
Hypochlorhydria can be recognised via certain symptoms: bad breath, nausea, vomiting, belching, headaches, bloating, flatulence, heartburn, indigestion, stomach pain, diarrhea, etc.
2) Black pepper: great for the libido
According to certain studies, black pepper causes microvascular dilation in the sex organs in men and women alike. Piperine, a bioactive compound in black pepper, increases the quantity of coenzyme Q10 in the blood. Coenzyme Q10 increases blood flow to the sexual organs, the uterus and the penis.
Black pepper is thus an excellent natural remedy for erectile dysfunction and impotence.
3) Black pepper: effective natural treatment for vitiligo
Vitiligo is a skin condition which is characterised by the loss of skin pigment. This loss of pigment is caused by a depletion of melanocytes, the cells which synthesise melanin, a dark brown pigment responsible for skin colour.
Vitiligo manifests via the appearance of white marks on the face, back, hands, elbows, knees, armpits and genitals.
According to researchers in King College London, piperine, the main bioactive compound in black pepper, can stimulate inactive melanocytes, which leads to repigmentation of the skin in people affected by vitiligo. Consult your doctor for advice on therapeutic use of piperine. Linked with short regular bouts of sun exposure, piperine allows the skin to darken more rapidly.
4) Black pepper: helps fight against breast cancer
Breast cancer occurs when cancerous cells grow in a rapid and uncontrolled manner, which allows tumours to continue to grow.
According to various studies, mixing curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, and piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, helps turmeric to be more effective for fighting against breast cancer. In fact, depending on the person, curcumin and piperine can inhibit or limit the renewal of cancerous cells.
5) Black pepper: a natural antidepressant
Low levels of serotonin in the brain may be one of the causes for depression, and also for anxiety and insomnia. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical substance that transmits messages between the nerve cells. It has a role in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, body temperature and libido.
According to a study carried out on mice, piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, increases the levels of serotonin in the hippocampus and the frontal cortex, as well as endorphin levels in the brain, thus helping with reducing pain and boosting mood.
This study appears to have proven the antidepressant effects of black pepper!
6) Black pepper: antibacterial
The anti-microbial properties of black pepper may be effective against certain bacteria:
- Staphylococcus aureus,
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa,
- Plesiomonas shigelloides,
- Micrococcus roseus,
- Klebsiella pneumoniae,
- Citrobacter sp.
7) Black pepper: a natural cough and cold remedy
The piperine contained in black pepper has effective antibacterial properties which can treat a cough caused by infection, and it can also help unblock the nose due to being a natural decongestant.
Eating black pepper with your meals can help naturally treat a chesty cough, a dry cough or a cold.
8) Black pepper for treating arthritis
According to one study, the piperine in black pepper can help limit the production of prostaglandin E2 or PGE2, responsible for the development of rheumatoid arthritis in humans.
This study, carried out on rats, showed that piperine reduces the symptoms of arthritis in just 4 days. In fact, piperine inhibits the production of PGE2 and can thus help relieve pain and inflammation.
9) Black pepper can help you naturally stop smoking
According to study carried out by Rose, J.E. and Behm, F. in 1994, piperine can reduce the symptoms associated with giving up smoking.
Inhaling the scent of black pepper essential oil can help smokers resist cravings.
10) Black pepper for stomach aches
Black pepper is an excellent natural remedy for treating gastro-intestinal problems. Regular consumption of black pepper can help fight against various problems: stomach aches, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, etc.
The cholinergic and antispasmodic properties in piperine, the main alkaloid in black pepper, help combat stomach pain.