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Healing with the Wonderful Herb Pepper - A Plant with Immense Medicinal Value

by G Ravishankar(more info)

listed in herbal medicine, originally published in issue 143 - January 2008

Have you ever wondered how the herb Pepper can help to take care of several diseases naturally? “If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper, it is more powerful than any other.” according to Dr Richard Schulze.

Dr Richard Schulze, one of the foremost authorities on Natural Healing and Herbal Medicines in the USA
Dr Richard Schulze, one of the foremost authorities on Natural
Healing and Herbal Medicines in the USA

Using different kinds of drugs not only causes damage but also side-effects. The advantages of pepper are well-known since time immemorial, so why don’t we use pepper with medicinal value. People keep painkillers handy to take care of headaches. Frequent consumption of such drugs result in numerous side-effects. However, consumption of black pepper not only can help to act as a pain reliever but also aids digestion. Pepper can also be taken along with food as per the requirement.

The late Dr Christopher (whom Dr Schulze apprenticed under) once said, “In my 35 years of practice, teaching and working with people, I have never on house calls lost one heart attack patient and the reason is – whenever I go in – if they are still breathing, I pour down them a cup of cayenne tea (a teaspoon of cayenne in a cup of hot water), and within minutes they are up and about.”

Cayenne pepper has been prized for thousands of years for its healing power. Folklore from around the world recount amazing results using cayenne pepper for simple healing and with baffling health problems. The healing power of cayenne pepper, however, is not confined to ancient times. Clinical studies in recent years have also been conducted with this miracle herb on many of the old-time health applications.

A cayenne pepper
A cayenne pepper

Hot peppers’ fire comes from capsaicin, which acts on pain receptors, not taste buds, in our mouths. Capsaicin predominates in the white membranes of peppers, imparting its ‘heat’ to seeds as well. The capsaicin in hot peppers has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol and triglycerides, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of stomach ulcers. It used to be thought that hot peppers aggravated ulcers. Instead, they may help kill bacteria in the stomach that can lead to ulcers.

Black pepper comes from the pepper plant, a smooth woody vine that can grow up to 33 feet in hot and humid tropical climates. They begin to bear small white clustered flowers after three to four years and develop into berries known as peppercorns. Ground peppercorns produce the spice we call pepper.

Health Benefits

Improves Digestion and Promote Intestinal Health

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) stimulates the taste buds and can help to alert the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. When the body’s production of hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion, or it may pass into the intestines, where it can be used as a food source for unfriendly gut bacteria, whose activities produce gas, irritation, and/or diarrhoea or constipation?

Black pepper has long been recognized as a carminative, (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas), a property due likely to its beneficial effect of stimulating hydrochloric acid production. In addition, black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties.

Black pepper has demonstrated impressive antioxidant and antibacterial effects – yet another way in which this wonderful seasoning promotes the health of the digestive tract. And not only does black pepper help you derive the most benefit from your food, the outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, keeping you slim while giving you energy to burn.

Black pepper comes from the berries of the pepper plant
Black pepper comes from the
berries of the pepper plant

Types of Peppercorns

Black pepper comes from the berries of the pepper plant. Black pepper, green pepper and white peppercorns are actually the same fruit (Piper nigrum); the difference in their colour is a reflection of varying stages of development and processing methods.

Black peppercorns are made by picking the pepper berries when they are half ripe and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry which causes them to shrivel and become dark in colour. Alternatively, green peppercorns are picked while still unripe and green in colour, while white peppercorns are picked when very ripe, and subsequently soaked in brine to remove their dark outer shell leaving just the white pepper seed.

Pink peppercorns are actually from a completely different plant species (Schinus molle) that is related to ragweed.

Black pepper is the most pungent and flavourful of all types of peppers, and is available whole or cracked or ground into powder.

Value of Pepper in Ancient Times

Native to India, pepper has played a very important role throughout history, and has been a prized spice since ancient times. Since ancient Greece, pepper has held such high prestige that it was not only used as a seasoning but also as currency and sacred offering. Pepper was used to both honour the gods and to pay taxes and ransoms. During the fall of ancient Rome, the invading barbarians were even honoured by being presented with black pepper. Additionally, in the Middle Ages the wealth of a man was oftentimes measured by his stockpile of pepper.

The reason pepper was so cherished is that it served important culinary purposes. Not only could its pungency spice up otherwise bland foods, but it could disguise a food’s lack of freshness, the latter being an especially important quality in the times before efficient means of preservation.

Pepper became an important spice that catalyzed much of the spice trade. This not only led to exploration of many undiscovered lands, but also to the development of major merchant cities in Europe and the Middle East. Today, the major commercial producers of pepper are India and Indonesia.

Black pepper is available whole, crushed or ground into powder. To ensure best flavour, buy whole peppercorns and grind them yourself in a mill just before adding to a recipe. In addition to its superior flavour, buying whole peppercorns ensures the purchase of unadulterated pepper, since ground pepper is often mixed with other spices. Whole peppercorns should be heavy, compact and free of any blemishes.

Even though dried herbs and spices like black pepper are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore local spice stores in your area. Often, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness than those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried spices, when purchasing black pepper try to select that which is organically grown, since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating black pepper may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C content).

Black pepper should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Whole peppercorns will keep almost indefinitely, while ground pepper will stay fresh for about three months. Pepper can also be frozen; this though will make the flavour more pronounced.

Nutritional Profile

Enriched with iron and vitamins, black pepper is a good source of dietary fibre. It can also be used to control asthma progressively, by mixing the black pepper powder and avakshaara (alkali obtained after burning the green spikes of barley) with warm water. For headaches, pound two peppers with goat’s milk and place up the nostrils. Pepper can also help take care of coughs, eczema and obesity, and works wonders in progressively relieving various diseases.

Using Pepper for Optimum Benefits

One way of deriving the medicinal value of pepper is through food, in recipes, by combining it with onion and other vegetables of your choice. Try to explore ways of including pepper in your meal. Another way of maximizing its benefits is by combining it with dried ginger. You can also add honey to this combination to aid with other ailments. For optimum benefit, the quality of the pepper must be extremely good.

So, start using pepper on a daily basis to enjoy good health through natural healing, and avoid the unwanted side-effects of allopathic medicines. The rate of cure, however, is slow but steady, but this also ensures long-term effects. Pepper is no doubt an invaluable herbal medicine, so reap the distinctive benefits of pepper in the best possible way.

Try to minimize the intake of allopathic medicines, as they only offer symptomatic relief instead of working on the root cause. Moreover, side-effects here cannot be ruled out. The distinctive advantage of herbal cure is that it takes care of the cause of the disease. So, get well naturally by using herbs like pepper regularly to lead a healthy and happy life.


  1. madhu said..

    please let me know the medicinal value of pepper leaf.....leaf..

  2. Rick said..

    Question. I take medicinal mushroom powder in capsule form.Would the addition
    of black pepper increase the bioavailability of the mushroom powder ?

    Thank you

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About G Ravishankar

G Ravishankar was associated with a company manufacturing herbal medicines for 11 years, where he gained experience on the invaluable contents of herbal medicines. He and his family members use herbal medicines in their day-to-day life with positive response. Ravishankar may be contacted via Mob: 0091 22 93242 99938;

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