Jispa › Remedies
You may not be aware that an item that is in your kitchen right now might have one of the most impressive lists of health benefits out there. But it’s true: the black pepper sitting innocently in your shaker is an incredibly powerful little spice used for millennia to heal the sick.
This spice is ground from peppercorns and is used to make black pepper essential oil. Officially known as Piper nigrum, it has been a tenet of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. As research catches up to these well-known benefits, it turns out that black pepper deserves all that hype.
Black pepper health benefits range from major antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to antitoxic ability (in the colon), tumor killing, thyroid support, treatment of the common cold, fever reduction and many more.
The active ingredient responsible is piperine. Black pepper contains volatile compounds, oleoresins and alkaloids which create a powerful plant, particularly for reducing oxidative stress. Another review of black pepper’s powerful benefits states that, The key alkaloid components of Piper nigrum, that is, piperine, assist in cognitive brain functioning, boost nutrient’s absorption and improve gastrointestinal functionality.
Let’s look at some of the most impressive black pepper health benefits and help you see why you should be utilizing it more.
It’s been thought in traditional systems of medicine that black pepper was an important anti-cancer ingredient, and it seems this is likely true. Piper nigrum has anti-tumor and immune system actions that make it potentially very powerful against cancer.
In a laboratory study, turmeric with black pepper was tested against breast cancer cells. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, and black pepper were effective at killing malignant cells, both together and separately.
Both black pepper and curcumin side effects are negligible, even though they have the ability to kill mutated cells. This is what sets them apart from common cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy. Even with the tumor-killing activity of black pepper extract/piperine, healthy cells are safe.
Another TCM and Ayurveda use of black pepper is for protection of the liver. A 1993 lab study found that black pepper protected the liver from damage caused by oxidative substances and helped the liver cells maintain its level of glutathione (GSH), an important antioxidant that is often depleted by damage to liver function.
One of the most important factors in long-term health is chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases. The standard American diet (SAD) is centered around habits that drive up inflammation, which is why an anti-inflammatory diet is important to preventing disease.
Similarly, oxidative stress and bacterial growth within the body can get out of control and lead to a number of conditions. All three of these processes are supposed to happen within the body, but only to certain degrees before their impact can be seen.
Black pepper and its active compound, piperine, help to reduce inflammation, fight oxidative stress, increase antioxidant concentrations in the body and kill many different kinds of bacteria that may lead to disease.
In particular, black pepper may be effective against oral bacteria that lead to conditions such as gingivitis, oral thrush and cavities (dental caries).
While many drugs out there fight depression, the side effects of antidepressants and their related withdrawal symptoms make them unattractive to many in the natural health world. The good news is that many dietary and supplement options exist that can drastically impact depression.
Although only proven in animal research to date, black pepper may act as a natural remedy for depression when used properly. Like natural cancer treatment, this effect may be increased when black pepper is used with turmeric.
Did you know that epilepsy can be naturally treated with diet? Black pepper is part of a diet for epilepsy, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In TCM, radishes and black pepper are used to powerfully block convulsions.
Ancient medicine also calls for black pepper in the case of certain digestive problems. Capsaicin, the spicy compound in peppers, is another gut-protecting ingredient. Both capsaicin and piperine affect the TRPV1 receptor in the gut, which signals the production of chemicals in the brain and body to counteract pain and improve digestion.
Capsaicin is great for your gut, but your TRPV1 receptors eventually become desensitized to the pain from spiciness and its impact on your gut processes. Introducing more black pepper helps to re-sensitize the receptors and maximize the impact of spice.
In two research studies, subjects had significantly increased cognitive function after piperine was introduced into the diet. One study was specifically designed as a model for Alzheimer’s and resulted in significantly improved memory impairment and neurodegeneration in hippocampus.
The other, a more generalized study, discovered that piperine improved cognition significantly (as well as reducing signs of depression).
Is black pepper good for high blood pressure? When you ingest piperine, it may help to counteract other factors that would otherwise increase blood pressure, which can eventually lead to heart disease.
Quitting smoking? A clinical trial revealed that using inhalable cartridges of black pepper oil reduced cravings for people who were trying to quit. The control cartridge containing no additional ingredients and the other tested cartridge with menthol had no significant impact on cravings in this study.