benefits of black pepper

Cinnamon, ginger, fennel, turmeric and other spices have long been used medicinally. Scientists have confirmed that these natural food additives have physiological effects. We hear less often about the benefits of black pepper, but research has revealed that there are several.

Looking for the Health Benefits of Black Pepper:

Q. I often hear about the medicinal benefits of various herbs and spices. However, I don’t typically hear about pepper, a widely available spice. Has there been any research to suggest what benefits it may have?

A. Black pepper (Piper nigrum) has been prized for millennia. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt were mummified with peppercorns in their nostrils, presumably to signify their high status in the afterlife. Venetian merchants were able to build luxurious mansions in large part because they controlled the trade in spices, especially black pepper, during the 15th century.

Medicinal Benefits of Black Pepper:

Although pepper is no longer considered a luxury spice, it does appear to have medicinal benefits. Research suggests that its anti-inflammatory activity is due to a component that blocks cellular endocannabinoid uptake (Reynoso-Moreno, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Nov. 1, 2017).

Researchers are exploring the power of piperine, a key ingredient in black pepper, as an anticancer agent (Manayi et al, Current Medicinal Chemistry, online May 23, 2017). Piperine is an antioxidant and antimicrobial compound. In addition, it lowers blood cholesterol, improves digestion and increases absorption of some herbal and conventional drugs (Meghwal & Goswami, Phytotherapy Research, Aug. 2013; Lee et al, Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology, Jan. 2018; Sahebkar et al, Current Clinical Pharmacology, online Jan. 3, 2018). One of these is turmeric (curcumin), which is notoriously hard to absorb.

Research into gene activation shows that piperine can boost the activity of bone-building cells called osteoblasts (Kim et al, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Jan. 1, 2018). We don’t know if the amount of black pepper a person would consume as part of a meal would be adequate to produce a clinical improvement.

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  1. Ann

    Like Kathleen, I a badly cut my finger and pepper came to the rescue instantly, Next day, no scar or anything. I am on Warfarin, also, but it made no difference to pepper’s ability to clot instantly on an open wound.

  2. Ann

    Like Kathleen, I a badly cut my finger and pepper came to the rescue instantly, Next day, no scar or anything. I am on Warfarin, also, but it made no difference to pepper’s ability to clot instantly on an open wound.

  3. Damita

    Anytime I am told by cancer industry or doctors to not use a spice, I will research and see for myself. I think that is a bogus medical order.

  4. Cindy B
    Seattle, WA

    Having heard so many good things about black pepper, especially the way it increases absorption of other supplements, I decided to check it out. It comes in the form of “Piperine” and is available at most healthfood stores. It’s not very expensive, either.

    I take my supplements in 3 daily bunches, with a little Piperine cap (they’re tiny) taken right beforehand. I take the morning supplements with a HUGE green salad, lots of nuts and seeds, lots of other veggies… so if anything’s not very bioavailable, it would get a real challenge with all that food and other supplements.

    Anyway, I’m suddenly feeling better than ever, and I’m convinced the Piperine has a lot to do with that! Impossible to tell for sure, of course…

  5. Manny

    I have a persistent case of shingles for over 3 months and I am advised by my doctor to avoid spicy foods because the herpes virus thrives on them. I was prescribed Gabapentin for pain but it has very little effect. I have used ointment patches but they don’t help me sleep better.
    Any recommendations?

  6. ray
    waycross ga

    Drs use say hot spice cause ulcers. Now say it don’t. I use black pepper daily on my grits and eggs, and most meats. It helps with my sinus. Have never ulcerated my stomach. The hotter the sauce, the better up to a point, but you have build up tolerance.

  7. Mary Ellen
    Garner NC

    I too have used it to stop bleeding. I almost severed the top of my finger off with some electric shears. I stopped the bleeding with pepper and went to the Dr., thinking I would need stitches. She looked at the pepper covered finger and told me to leave the pepper in place and keep it bandaged. She said it would heal up fine and sent me home! I don’t even have a scar. I’ve told many folks who always question if it burns. I tell them not to use it on their tongues, but anywhere else is fine!

  8. BBBob

    By the way, if your car radiator springs a small leak, you can use black pepper to plug the leak for several hours, usually long enough to get to a repair shop for a proper fix. After allowing the car engine to cool sufficiently to prevent getting burned by hot radiator fluid under pressure, a can or two of ground black pepper dumped into the radiator will usually work. I used this many years ago, and it works.

  9. BBBob
    Amherst, NY

    I began using larger than “mere dusting” amounts of black pepper with many foods approximately 30 years ago. About 10 years ago, I ditched the salt shaker for 99% of table use, as I wanted to cut my sodium intake and found that a sprinkle of pepper can approximate the flavor of salt on some foods like my morning soft boiled eggs. Because the flavor of freshly ground pepper is much better than the pre-ground “canned” variety, I eventually bought a top quality English-made pepper grinder for daily use at the dinner table. I know at least one person whose use of large amounts of black pepper surely puts her in a class of her own. Though I never used pepper for any assumed health benefits, I have always felt that it was good for me in some way, and probably posed no health risk.

  10. Mary Jane

    Given these comments, it would be useful to know how to use pepper in ways other than simply dusting it over one’s food.

  11. Kathleen
    Greenville NC

    I use it to stop bleeding. I’ve used it after slicing my fingers while slicing tomatoes. My worst cut was on vacation. I cut my thumb on a tin can edge. Pepper, holding pressure, more pepper and a bandage over night. The next morning, no pain, healed, and no scar. It seemed miraculous!

  12. Carolina girl
    Waxhaw, NC

    When my husband was in the hospital for a stem cell transplant a few years ago, he was cautioned against using black pepper on his food. He was told it was because there could be bacteria in black pepper. He was not allowed black pepper for several months after he returned home. I have never heard this before or since. Do you know anything about this?

  13. Cathie
    Phnom Penh

    I am living in Cambodia, a country famous for its Kampot pepper. I grind black peppercorns regularly for salads and other dishes. I cannot verify that the Kampot pepper has positive medicinal effects, but I will say that the pepper is delicious and surely adds to the tastiness of my meals. I am happy to know that piperine increases the absorption of curcumin/turmeric, another spice I use a lot.

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