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Black Pepper – Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Black pepper is the king of Spice and is used in Unani and Ayurvedic medicines for thousands of years. 

Piper Nigrum is its scientific name. Its fruit is called peppercorn. It is dried and then used as a spice, herb, and seasoning. It is native to South India

Chemical Constituents of Black pepper: Black pepper is rich in bioactive components known as phytochemicals which are natural plant chemicals that exert their beneficial effects on human health. Some major components are;

(Joshi et al, 2018)

  • Alkaloids as piperine and chavicine

  • Terpenoid

  • Amides

  • steroids

  • flavonoids

  • vitamins & Minerals

Traditional use of Black Pepper:

Black pepper has been in use since old times for its medicinal value. Some of the most common medicinal benefits of black pepper are; (Joshi et al, 2018)

  • It is used as an Antiseptic

  • It is beneficial for gut health.

  • It relieves spasm

  • It has an activity to relieve pain, fever and inflammation.

  • It is used as diuretic. Diuretics are the agents that increase urine flow from the body.

  • It promotes digestion

  • It used to relieve cough

  • It is used as flavor,

  • It is effective carminative

  • It is used as an antimicrobial and insecticide.

Health Benefits of Black Pepper:

Black pepper is found to possess positive impact on human health by its beneficial effects.

  • Antioxidant

Black pepper has strong antioxidant potential (Umar et al, 2013).

Antioxidants are the compounds that inhibit oxidation which is a process where free radicals are generated that build up the oxidative stress and damage human cells.

Antioxidants act by neutralizing these harmful molecules (free radicals) which are produced in response to negative factors like smoking, environmental, emotional and physical stress, disease conditions, alcohol abuse etc.

Thus exhibiting the positive impact on health and has shown to reduce the risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and aging (Yashin A et al, 2017).

  • Anti-inflammatory

These are the agents that reduce swelling and inflammation. Black pepper has strong anti-inflammatory activity and reduces the production of inflammatory mediators (Umar et al, 2013).

  • Anti-Arthritis

Arthritis is the swelling of joints. Due to the strong anti-inflammatory potential of black pepper, it can be used in treating and reducing the symptoms of arthritis and improve bone health (Umar et al, 2013).

  • Anti-allergic

Black pepper is found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of allergic rhinitis also known as hay fever.

It exhibits anti-inflammatory activity and is proving to be an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis. (Aswar et al, 2015)

  • Nervous System health

Black pepper is found to be effective in preventing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is a disease that leads to impairment of brain function causing loss of memory and other thinking capabilities.

Studies on the rat model show the effectiveness of black pepper on preventing the disease and improves memory (Subedee et al 2015).

Black pepper is shown to be memory enhancing. It has shown significant improvement in behavioral effects. (Hritcu et al, 2014)

  • Hepatoprotective

Black pepper is found to exert protective effects on the liver and can be used as an alternative therapeutic agent n liver disorders (Joshi et al, 2018)

  • Cardiovascular System Health

Black pepper is found to be effective in promoting cardiovascular health. A novel supplement containing black pepper was evaluated for clinical parameters of cardiovascular health.

It was found to reduce total cholesterol levels, triglycerides levels, low density lipoproteins LDL (bad cholesterol) and no side effects were observed (Hobbs et al, 2014)

  • Anti-asthmatic

Black pepper is found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of asthma. Pepper was shown to suppress the airway inflammation and hyperresponsivenes and reduce the production of inflammatory mediators (Kim & Lee, 2009).

  • Metabolic Functioning

Black pepper is found to improve the metabolic functioning in obese patients (Rondanelli et al, 2013).

Metabolic syndrome is the group of conditions that occurs due to too much fat and weight.

These include raised blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides levels, sugar level that leads to heart attack, hypertension, diabetes and stroke.

  • Antidiabetic

Black pepper is found to be effective in reducing the blood sugar level. (Maeda et al, 2018). Piperine a major constituent of black pepper is found to show a significant reduction in blood glucose level at appropriate dosage.

At high doses, there was an increase in blood sugar level. (Atal et al, 2012)

  • Antithyroidism

Alkaloid found in black pepper was found to be effective in reducing the thyroid concentration. It was found to be effective in activity like anti thyroid drugs

  • Anticancer

Piperine a major alkaloid found in black pepper is a strong anticancer. It is shown to be selective cytotoxic and prevents cell multiplication of cancer cells (Manayi et al, 2018).

Triple-negative breast cancer TNBC is the most aggressive breast cancer. A study was carried out to explore the effective natural component against TNBC.

55 compounds were tested for this purpose. Piperine, a major component of black pepper was found to be the most effective therapeutic agent (Abdelhamed et al, 2014)

  • Anticonvulsant

Black pepper is effective in reducing and preventing the episode of convulsions in patients with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system causing convulsions and unusual behavior (Joshi et al, 2018).

  • Topical use

Black pepper is used topically to treat pain caused by neuralgia (intermittent pain along the nerve that especially appears in face and head) and skin irritation (Kaye et al, 2012).

  • Increase therapeutic effectiveness

Black pepper is found to be beneficial when give with another natural component as it increases the therapeutic effectiveness.

Black pepper has found to increase the therapeutic effectiveness of curcumin by making it available in blood circulation for a longer time (Joshi et al, 2018).

  • Immunostimulant

Black pepper provides strength and promotes immunity (Joshi et al, 2018)

Side effects of Black Pepper:

it is generally considered safe in appropriate dosages.

  • Ingestion of black pepper in large amounts is reported to cause death due to its ingestion into the lungs (Kaye et al, 2012)

  • Burning taste and sensation to throat and stomach(Joshi et al, 2018)

  • It increases the absorption of drugs and should be used with caution with other medicines (Joshi et al, 2018)

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