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Can You Stop Bleeding with Black Pepper?

Have you tried to stop bleeding with black pepper? Many readers have found it works surprisingly well.

We have been collecting home remedies for more than 40 years. One of the most unusual came to us from Nell Heard, who told us about a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. She went with her sister and brother-in-law Wendell, all in a camping trailer. The day they saw the geyser Old Faithful, they had lunch at the nearby cafeteria. Wendell picked up several extra single-serving packs of black pepper, telling her that you can stop bleeding with black pepper. All his woodcarving buddies carry it with their tools.

That night, after they pulled into their camping spot, Wendell stretched out to relax while Nell and her sister started making supper. A mug fell out of an overhead cupboard and struck him on the forehead, causing a gash. It was bleeding freely, but it wasn’t a deep cut. After they sponged it off, Wendell handed Nell the black pepper from earlier in the day and she poured it on the cut. Very quickly it stopped bleeding. He left it in place for several days and the cut healed without a scar. Have you ever tried to stop bleeding with black pepper?

How to Stop Bleeding with Black Pepper:

Q. I had a deep cut on my finger and the blood was pulsing out. I grabbed the black pepper, poured it on the cut and the bleeding stopped immediately. Naturally, I left the cluster of black pepper on the cut. The cut sealed shut and was healed in two days. Thanks for writing about this remedy.

A. We always encourage anyone with a serious cut to apply pressure and seek immediate medical attention. That said, you are not the first person to report that you were able to stop bleeding with black pepper. Ground black pepper is frequently readily available and not expensive.

Another Reader Writes About How to Stop Bleeding with Black Pepper:

Q. I have been using a home remedy for years on minor household cuts that are bleeding. I shake black pepper on the cut until it’s covered with the pepper and leave it on until the blood clots.

No, it doesn’t burn or hurt, which is what most people say when they hear this. Most minor cuts occur in the kitchen and most kitchens are equipped with black pepper, so it is easy.

After the blood clots, I rinse off the pepper, spray the cut with Bactine and cover it with a bandage. I learned this from an aunt many, many years ago. It has worked for me ever since.

A. We first heard about putting black pepper on a cut to stop bleeding more than two decades ago. A family camping in Yellowstone had a misadventure that led to a superficial cut on the head. The bleeding was profuse and medical care was far away. The victim, a wood carver, had learned about black pepper from his carving buddies. It worked like a charm.

Some health professionals have objected to this remedy because they fear black pepper could lead to infection. Your strategy of washing it off and applying an antibacterial product might help avoid this potential problem. An antimicrobial ointment such as Polysporin might work as well as your usual Bactine.

Possible Problems with Pepper:

Not everyone is enthusiastic about this home remedy. One reader took us to task, and others would probably agree.

Q. You have written about applying ground black pepper to a minor kitchen cut to stop bleeding. You failed to point out the serious risk of contamination.

Spices are grown and collected in very unsanitary conditions. Applying any spice to an open wound could lead to infection. Warn your readers NOT to put black pepper on cuts.

A. You are quite right that spices are not sterile. The agricultural products are often harvested under uncontrolled conditions. Small farms all over India supply most of the black pepper we consume. The same is true for many other spices.

Some large companies that sell spices in the US pasteurize their products before selling them. Whether that would make ground black pepper safe to apply topically is uncertain.

Learn More:

If you would like to read about other simple approaches for common ailments, including cuts and bruises, you may find our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies, of interest. It is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com or your local library. On the other hand, if you are interested in how to use spices medicinally, you may prefer to explore our book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.

If you have tried this or a similar remedy, share your results. Others will be interested.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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