Author: Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG
Ordinary black pepper is not only tasty, but offers several health benefits.
Black pepper is used in combination with turmeric in traditional Indian cuisine. They work as a team, providing benefits to all of the systems of the body, including immune and cardiovascular benefits.
Pepper is considered to be warming and stimulating. Warming herbs are useful in the treatment of respiratory illnesses such as colds or flus, and may prevent them from developing, so try using black pepper at the very first signs of a respiratory illness. Ironically, black pepper may help to reduce low grade fevers by stimulating the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Black pepper may also help to inhibit the production of excess mucus, reducing congestion of lung and sinus tissues, and may reduce sore throat pain.
Black pepper also stimulates circulation. This can improve blood pressure and prevent cholesterol buildup. As a stimulating herb, black pepper promotes the circulation of lymphatic fluid.
Black pepper, applied topically, increases blood flow to the area that it is applied to as a poultice or compress. This helps to relieve arthritic pain, and can draw congestion from deeper tissues.
Digestion of carbohydrates is enhanced by the use of black pepper. Black pepper also stimulates the flow of saliva which begins the breakdown of carbohydrates.
Additionally, black pepper may stimulate the appetite.
Black pepper may be added to other herbal formulas to work as a catalyst to activate the other herbs. The pepper may be added in small amounts. I recommend using it in a proportion of 1 part black pepper to 7 parts other herbs when used as an activator. For example, you may add 1 tablespoon of black pepper to 7 tablespoons elderberries to make a warming tea blend to have on hand for cold and flu season. To make one cup of tea, use 1-2 teaspoons of the blend. Simmer in one cup of water for twenty minutes. Strain.
Black pepper may be placed in a piece of cheesecloth or a clean old sock with rosemary and Epsom salts. Combinine 2 cups Epsom salts, ½ cup dried rosemary and 1 tablespoon black pepper and place the packet in a hot bathtub. Soak for a minimum of twenty minutes to relieve sore muscles and joints.
Do not use black pepper medicinally for small children. Don’t use it topically for children, the elderly, or those who are insensitive to heat or cold.
Black pepper should not be used medicinally if skin rashes or irritation are present. When applying a compress or poultice, remove if excess redness or a burning sensation ensues. The skin will be pink due to the heat of the compress and increased circulation. Black pepper may be irritating to those with inflammatory digestive illnesses such as gastric ulcer.
Well-known herbalist Michael Tierra L.Ac., O.M.D. recommends 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper combined with honey each morning as a preventative of respiratory illnesses such as colds or flus. He recommends that it be administered 3-4 times daily for acute illnesses.
Whether it's used for medicinal purposes or as a condiment, black pepper makes a wonderful addition to the herbal medicine kit or to your favorite cuisine.