Black pepper (Piper nigrum), an Indian native spice, has been widely used in human diet for several thousands of years. It is valued for its characteristic sharp and stinging qualities attributed to the alkaloid piperine. While it is used primarily as a food adjunct, black pepper is also used as a food preservative and as an essential component in tradi-tional medicines in India and China. Since the discovery of black pepper’s active ingredient, piperine, the use of black pepper has caught the interest of modern medical researchers. Many physiological effects of black pepper, its extracts or its bioactive compound, piperine, have been reported in recent decades.
By stimulating the digestive enzymes of the pancreas, piperine enhances digestive capacity and significantly reduces gastrointestinal food transit time. Piperine has been documented to enhance the bioavailability of a number of therapeutic drugs as well as phytochemicals through its inhibitory influence on enzymatic drug biotransforming reactions in liver and intestine. It strongly inhibits hepatic and intestinal aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase glucuronyl trans-ferase. Most of the clinical studies on piperine have focused on its effect on drug metabolism. Piperine’s bioavailability enhancing property is also partly attributed to increased absorption as a result of its effect on the ultrastructure of the intestinal brush border. Piperine has been demonstrated in in vitro studies to protect against oxidative damage by inhibiting or quenching reactive oxygen species. Black pepper or piper-ine treatment has also been evidenced to lower lipid peroxidation in vivo and beneficially influence antioxidant status in a number of experimen-tal situations of oxidative stress. Piperine has also been found to possess anti-mutagenic and anti-tumor influences. Clinical studies are limited, but several have reported the beneficial therapeutic effects of black pep-per in the treatment of smoking cessation and dysphagia.
Black Pepper History
An ancient trading commodity, black pepper dates back to 4,000 years ago. The tiny, hard, nutlike berries became a precious form of commerce and spread from India to the world. An important spice in Indian cooking, the sharp spice was mentioned in the early Tamil literature. The Mahabharata, written in 4th century BCE, describes feasts that included meats flavored with black pepper.
The spice, valued so highly, was as precious as a pearl and the peppercorns were used as a form of money along the trading routes.Black pepper factored into Indian medicine as a prescription to cure constipation, earache, gangrene and heart disease. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used pepper as part of his healing arsenal.
The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, taxed all peppers, except black. Attila the Hun and the Visigoths included pepper as part of the ransom fee after sacking Rome.A Medieval French saying makes a comparison of valuables by saying, “As dear as pepper.” The spice lent an air of sophistication and became a cooking status symbol during the middle ages.
Dockworkers of the 16th century were subjected to a dress code that demanded workers wear clothing without pockets or cuffs to prevent stealing valuable peppercorns. The master spice was used to pay rent and was often included in the dowry of a bride.The Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama, discovered a trade route to India that led ships around the Cape of Good Hope. The introduction of the trade route began Portugal’s dominance of the black pepper trade that continued into the 18th century.
Christopher Columbus set sail hoping to find riches and pepper. Instead of peppercorns worth more than their weight in gold, he found chilies with a fiery, pungent flavor similar to black pepper. He brought them back to Europe and called them peppers. The confusion between peppers and chilies remains to this day.Eventually, the pepper plant, long grown in India, made its way to the New World and Brazil became a major grower of black peppers.
The New World increased in riches through black pepper with the innovative Yankee clipper. The fastest and most efficient ship on the seas made Salem, Mass., the wealthiest seaport in the Americas thanks to importing black pepper.Pepper continues to dominate the spice trade throughout the world. Pepper represents one-quarter of all spices traded today.
What is Black Pepper & Piperine
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning, known as a peppercorn. When fresh and fully mature, it is about 5 mm (0.20 in) in diameter and dark red, and contains a single seed, like all drupes. Peppercorns and the ground pepper derived from them may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit), and white pepper (ripe fruit seeds).
Black pepper is native to south India and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions. Vietnam is the world's largest producer and exporter of pepper, producing 34% of the world's P. nigrum crop as of 2013.
Dried ground pepper has been used since antiquity both for its flavour and as a traditional medicine. Black pepper is the world's most traded spice, and is one of the most common spices added to cuisines around the world. Its spiciness is due to the chemical piperine, not to be confused with the capsaicin characteristic of chili peppers. It is ubiquitous in the modern world as a seasoning and is often paired with salt.
Piperine, along with its isomer chavicine, is the alkaloid responsible for the pungency of black pepper and long pepper. It has been used in some forms of traditional medicine.Piperine is extracted from black pepper using dichloromethane. Aqueous hydrotropes can be used in the extraction to result in high yield and selectivity. The amount of piperine varies from 1–2% in long pepper, to 5–10% in commercial white and black peppers. Further, it may be prepared by treating the solvent-free residue from an alcoholic extract of black pepper, with a solution of potassium hydroxide to remove resin (said to contain chavicine, an isomer of piperine) and solution of the washed, insoluble residue in warm alcohol, from which the alkaloid crystallises on cooling.
What is The Benefit of Black Pepper
1. Help Fight Depression
Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which is very beneficial for people suffering from depression. It also helps improves brain functions and helps enhance memory.
There have been studies published in medical journals such as the Journal of food and chemical toxicology. Regular intake of black pepper helped alleviate depression, significantly enhancing brain functionality.
2. Helps with Digestion
The body secretes an acid called the hydrochloric acid, which is essential to the digestion process. Black pepper is known to increase the secretion of this acid, which helps the body to digest food. It helps prevent intestinal gas production and stimulates sweating and urinating, which helps remove toxins from the body. Black pepper is a carminative that promotes good gut health.
3. Nutrient Absorption
Consumption of black pepper helps the body absorb more nutrients from other foods. Using black pepper with fruits, vegetables or any other dish will help the body absorb the nutrients to their full potential.
4. Treating Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are the worst kind and can cause a lot of discomfort to the patient. Black peppers are rich in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, which helps soothe peptic ulcers. Black pepper helps strengthen the mucosal defense. It is also found to fight problems that arise due to ethanol.
5. Get Rid of The Extra Pounds
Fat cells need to be broken in order to lose weight. The outer dark layer of peppercorn speeds up the breaking down of these fat cells and helps increase your metabolic rate. This, in turn, leads to weight reduction. Due to its carminative properties, it also helps rid the body of the intestinal gases and reduces bloating.
6. A Cough and Sore Throat Remedy
Black pepper has expectorant properties that help reduce symptoms associated with cough and other respiratory issues. It is often recommended as an ingredient in DIY cough remedies. The best way to use it when you have a bad case of the cough is to add a quarter teaspoon to a tablespoon full of honey, mix thoroughly and eat.
7. Promotes a Healthy heart
Black pepper is often recommended by doctors to add to food for patients suffering from heart diseases. What it does is it removes the cholesterol build up in the arteries. This helps prevent a medical condition called atherosclerosis, which is the main cause of people suffering heart attacks.
8. Soothes Toothaches
Another one of black peppers amazing uses is reducing toothaches and other gum related diseases. As it has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties it prevents the spreading of bacteria in the mouth and can be applied to the painful area mixed with salt.
9. Beneficial in Preventing Gray Hair
Graying hair is an issue that is being faced by many young children as well. Black pepper can be used to prevent this from happening. The recipe is simply to mix a quarter teaspoon of black pepper in half a cup of yogurt. Massage it into the scalp and let it sit for half an hour. Then rinse thoroughly. The regular use of this concoction will have a significant effect.
10. Effective for Arthritis Patients
Black pepper essential oil when applied to the skin has a warming sensation, which helps your blood circulation. It can be used by patients suffering from arthritis to get rid of the pain. It also helps remove uric acid like toxins from the body, which is very harmful to people with arthritis.
11. Black Pepper and Skin
Black pepper is packed full of healthy nutrients for the body. The regular consumption of this spice will help achieve a glowing complexion and happy skin. It can also be used as an exfoliator added to honey or yogurt.
The simplest way to incorporate black pepper into your diet is to sprinkle it on meals before you eat. You might also add a shake or two to ground black pepper to recipes such as soup, stew, eggs, beans and casseroles. Add pepper toward the end of the cooking process, however, because the benefits tend to break down the longer the spice is heated, Murray and Pizzorno note. Though they may not sound like they would go together, black pepper enhances the taste of vanilla-flavored foods such as yogurt or ice cream. Try this unusual combination by adding a small shake of black pepper to your yogurt or to baked goods that call for vanilla.
Black Pepper Extract
Piper nigrum L.
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