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Should You Pour Black Pepper on Your Cut?

Pour black pepper on a fresh cut, apply pressure, and it should stop bleeding quite quickly. A serious wound requires emergency medical attention.

Who knows where home remedies come from? Most of the time, their history is untraceable. Who first thought to pour black pepper on a cut to staunch the bleeding? We have no idea. If you search the internet, you will find this remedy attributed to resourceful cooks in restaurant kitchens. Presumably, they used whatever was close at hand that might work. You’ll also find a statement that soldiers in World War II used black pepper to treat bleeding wounds. One reader attributed this practice to a different, earlier war.

Do You Pour Black Pepper on Cuts to Stop Bleeding?

Q. I recall an old story that people started to pour black pepper on cuts or abrasions to stop bleeding because the Confederacy used gun powder for the same purpose. Presumably, the two products have similar clotting powers, though I’m not sure of the truth of the tale.

Black Pepper Saved a Shirt Collar:

At my son’s wedding, I used black pepper on a groomsman’s shaving cut when the styptic pen would not work. This young “MD to be” was amazed. I was amused. It saved the white shirt collar.

A. We couldn’t find any confirmation of the Confederate war story, though we also didn’t find authoritative debunking. There don’t appear to be any studies of black pepper to stop bleeding, but many other readers have found it helpful.

One reader wrote from British Columbia:

“Many years ago my elderly mum got a nasty cut on her hand and poured black pepper on it and wrapped it up. Her landlady, who was a retired nurse, stopped in for a visit and wanted to take a look at the cut. She decided that mum should see a doctor so off they went. He was astonished to discover the pepper on the wound and seemed surprised because he had never heard of using it. Mum said she thought it was a coagulant and had antiseptic properties. Anyway, the wound was clean, and he had to do a few stitches but it healed up beautifully. Mum said she must have learned to pour black pepper on a cut from growing up on a remote farm with no medical help close by.”

Black pepper doesn’t work for everyone, however.

Bob from South Carolina wrote:

“Black pepper never worked for me. I cut my finger once with a new knife and tried the black pepper treatment for about a half hour with no luck. Had to go to the ER where they used the medical glue which worked instantly. I’ve tried pepper on other smaller cuts but never had any success with it.”

Don’t Forget to Use Pressure:

Keep in mind that first aid for bleeding is to apply pressure to the cut. Even black pepper works better if applied under a bandage that can offer some pressure. Do NOT try black pepper on a serious cut. If blood is spurting out, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency department immediately. Apply pressure on the way.

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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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