“Where is the salt and pepper?” No meal is ever complete unless the salt and pepper are on the table. These two herbs and minerals are the most commonly used flavour enhancers since the beginning of time. As I have gotten older, I have tried to cut back on my intake of salt and only use “Pink Himalayan salt”. (The gem of the Himalayan Mountains, pink salt, is said to be the purest salt on earth. Himalayan salt happens to be 85% sodium chloride, and the remainder contains over 80+ minerals. These minerals can help your body balance your PH, regulate water content, remove toxins, help absorb nutrients, prevent muscle cramping, create balance and more. Known for its pure taste and its unique pinkish hue, the Himalayan Pink Salt is one of the top choices for salt).

But what I really want to talk to you about is “pepper”, Peppercorns contain an impressive list of plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. Black peppers have been in use for centuries for their anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties and did you know that the piperine in black pepper can be credited with the prevention of cancer, and becomes twice as potent when combined with turmeric. The spice also has Vitamin C, Vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenes and other anti-oxidants that help remove harmful free radicals and protect the body from cancers and diseases. The best way to eat pepper to harness maximum benefits is to eat freshly ground pepper, and not cook it along with food. Add it after the cooking process. Black pepper is antibacterial in nature, and therefore helps to cure cold and cough. A teaspoon of honey with freshly crushed pepper does the trick. It also helps to alleviate chest congestion.

Now all this time you thought you were putting pepper on your food to give it a little kick without even knowing you were doing something healthy for your body.  Black peppercorns contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration and blood cell production.

They are also an excellent source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as Pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin. Peppercorns are a good source of many antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A. They are also rich in flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants like carotenes, cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lycopene. These compounds help the body remove harmful free radicals and help protect from cancers and diseases. And there is more—Black pepper helps in boosting the metabolism in the body. It burns the unwanted calories and helps in reducing belly fat. Black pepper is very effective against obesity. The daily consumption of black pepper helps in reducing stomach-related problems.

You know of course they are always trying to make a good thing even better so now you can purchase  “Black Pepper Essential Oil”. It can be attributed to its properties as a digestive, diaphoretic, carminative, aperient, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, antiarthritic, antibacterial, and antioxidant substance. (What do all these words mean?).

Digestive: Black pepper is remarkably beneficial for digestion because it stimulates the whole digestive system, from the salivary glands in the mouth to the large intestine, including promoting secretion of digestive juices like acids and bile into the stomach to facilitate digestion.

Antispasmodic: It is an effective antispasmodic and gives good relief in case of cramps, muscles pulls, spasms, or convulsions.

Carminative: Black Pepper Essential Oil is carminative and helps remove gases and prohibit additional gas formation in the stomach and in the intestines. It also helps inhibit bacteria that are responsible for the formation of gas.

Aperient:  Black pepper oil has mild purgative properties, but it is safe for the system, unlike other purgatives like Castor Oil. It helps clean the intestines and at the same time, cures infections in the digestive and the excretory system.

Anti-rheumatic & Anti-arthritic: These are two of the best qualities of black pepper oil. It is warming, stimulating and improves circulation, thereby giving immediate relief for rheumatism and arthritis, particularly during the winter when the symptoms are aggravated the most. It is also effective in removing toxins like uric acid from the blood, thereby benefiting people suffering from chronic rheumatism, arthritis, and gout.

Diaphoretic & Diuretic: Black pepper oil, when ingested, increases sweating and urination. Both of these properties play an important role in the removal of toxins from the body, clearing of the pores on the skin, and disinfecting the body. Sweating and urinating help eliminate extra water and fat from the body, thereby reducing weight, lowering blood pressure and making the body very relaxed. These properties are also helpful for reducing inflammation.

Antioxidant: This is yet another beneficial property of black pepper oil. It protects the body from damages done by oxidants (free radicals) and also helps to repair those damages that have already been done. It also delays adverse effects of aging such as vision loss, macular degeneration, wrinkling of the skin, degeneration and loosening of the muscles, loss of mobility in the joints, nervous disorders, and memory loss.

Antibacterial: It has good antibacterial properties that you can enjoy without any adverse side effects. It is very effective in curing bacterial infections in the mouth, colon, digestive system, and urinary tract. It also disinfects food that it is added to and protects them from bacterial infections for long periods.

When I hear the words “essential oils” I think highly concentrated concoction and get nervous about maybe overdoing it especially when you are taking it internally! This is what I found out about this fantastic healthy “essential Oil”. Black pepper essential oil is available in some health food stores and online. A 10-milliliter bottle costs between $10 and $15. Black pepper oil can be inhaled directly from the bottle, diffused at home for a warming aroma, taken internally in small doses and applied topically. When taking black pepper oil internally, be sure to purchase a high-quality, 100 percent pure-grade product that’s made by a trustworthy and reputable company. Because of its potent and medicinal properties, you want to use the best product you can find.

When applied topically, black pepper oil creates a warming sensation, so use small doses and dilute it with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, jojoba oil or almond oil. Use a 1:1 dilution, especially if you apply the oil to sensitive skin. There are so many ways to use black pepper essential oil, and its uses go far beyond flavoring your food. Here are some easy ways to use black pepper oil at home:

  • To increase circulation and blood flow to the muscles and nerves, add 3–5 drops of black pepper oil to a warm compress and apply to the abdomen or areas of concern.
  • To ease the discomfort of constipation, diarrhea and gas, take 1–2 drops of black pepper oil internally by adding it to a smoothie, soup or savory dish. It can also be applied topically to the abdomen.
  • To relieve muscle injuries and tendonitis, apply black pepper oil topically to the area of concern.
  • To aid respiratory conditions, take internally or inhale the oil directly from the bottle.
  • To relieve congested airways, apply 2–3 drops topically to the chest.
  • To reduce cigarette cravings, diffuse black pepper oil or inhale it directly from the bottle when having a craving.
  • To use it as a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatism, apply 2–3 drops topically to the area of concern.
  • To help detoxify the body, take 1–2 drops internally or apply 2–3 drops topically to the bottoms of the feet.
  • To add flavor to soups, stews, baked vegetables, salads and entrees, add 1–2 drops of black pepper essential oil.
  • Black pepper essential oil can be a strong irritant in high doses, so dilution with a carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba oil) is recommended for topical use. It’s smart to try a patch test before applying black pepper oil to a larger area of your body. Start by applying a drop to your wrist or foot to make sure you won’t have an adverse reaction.

If you are not comfortable using “black pepper oil” just stick with what you know and use the same black pepper you always have. But remember too much of a good thing can be bad too! So is the case with black pepper. Control the amount of black pepper intake because it can cause some serious and some not so serious side effects, if not taken in moderate quantity. Here’s a list of all that can go wrong with too much black pepper:

  1. Creates Burning Sensation in Stomach:

Well, we all know that black pepper is ‘hot’. Common sense tells us that we should limit the use of black pepper in our dishes. But, sometimes common sense takes a back seat! In such a case, the overuse of black pepper can lead to severe burning in the stomach. Don’t worry, the burning will pass, it’s just temporary. Just be careful next time!

  1. Can Cause Death:

Now, this is one of those rarest of rare cases. But if pepper is consumed directly, it can get into the lungs and cause death, especially in children. So, it is advised to eat black pepper by mixing it with your food.

  1. Contraindication with Certain Drugs:

Patients taking cyclosporine A, cholinergic, digoxin, and cytochrome P450 should avoid consuming black pepper.

  1. Gastrointestinal Disorders:

Black pepper may upset the stomach or cause gastrointestinal problems. So, patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders should avoid taking black pepper.

  1. May Lead to Respiratory Problems:

One must not inhale black pepper as it may lead to respiratory problems like respiratory irritation, asthma, etc.

  1. May Cause Irritation:

In some rare cases, the intake of black pepper can lead to skin irritation with symptoms like itching, swelling, and redness in skin.

  1. Difficulties During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:

If you are pregnant, your body is already sensitive to spices. So, try and stay off black pepper. If you are craving the flavor, add some to your favorite dish, but in minimal quantities. The hot flavor and taste of black pepper can be transferred into breast milk. So, unless you want to give your infant a crash course in Indian spices, stay away from black pepper if you are breastfeeding.

If you weigh in the pros and cons of consuming black pepper, the pros will win hands down! The only way black pepper can harm you is if you consume too much of it, which is an unlikely scenario. So, enjoy your favorite spice in moderation!

Have a Fabulous and Fantastic Day!

Kathryn Hartwell