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How Do Herbs Help

Piper nigrum (Kali Mirich, Black pepper)

Biological Name:
Piper nigrum

Family: Piperaceae

Other Names:
Black pepper, Maricha, Kalimirich, Kalamirich, Golmarich, Golmirich, Golmirien, Milagu, Miriyalu, Kuru-muluka, Miri, Volloy-menasu, Ooshnam, Valliam.

Habitat:
Probably originated in the hills of south-western India where it occurs in wild condition from north Kanar to Kanyakumari. Cultivated in Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Kerala.The black pepper is produced by a woody, broad-leaved evergreen vine that is cultivated today in many tropical lands, from India, Indonesia, and Malaysia to South America and the West Indies.

Additional Info: Black pepper is Katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), tikhshna (sharp), ushnaveerya (hot), laghu (light), controls vitialated sleshma and vata; anthelmintic; useful in heart disease and as appetizer.

It is Amana-saka (destroys toxins), Dıpana (stimulates digestion), Kaphavatajit (alleviates kapha and vata), Krmighna (vermifuge, kills parasites), Pacana (digestive), Pramathı (removes accumulated dosas from the dhatus), Rasayana (Pranava¯hasrotas) (rejuvenative to respiratory system), Sirovirecana (cleanses the orifices of the head), Sulaghna (removes colicky pain), Svasa (helps breathing).

Elements Applied:
Dried unripe fruit-black pepper. The stout vine, which is allowed to climb poles or small trees in cultivation, bears many slender, densely packed flower spikes. The fruits that develop upon these spikes are generally harvested while still green; the signal is the reddening of the lowest fruits on a spike. The green fruits are dried until the flesh around the single hard seed is wrinkled and grayish black, then ground into black pepper or packaged and sold as whole peppercorns. The milder white pepper is made from the same plant; but the fruits are allowed to ripen, and the flesh is removed before the seeds are ground.

Active Components:
It contains alkaloids piperine (5-9%), piperidine (5%), piperanine, black pepper balasamic volatile essential oil Sabinene, camphene, limonene, myrcene, piperonal (1-2%), black pepper pungent concrete oleoresin chavicin and Chromium (Williamson 2002, Duke 2004).

Black pepper's aromatic, slightly musty odor comes from the volatile oils found largely in the flesh and skin; its pungent bite comes from the alkaloids-piperine and piperidine-and resins found mostly in the seeds. The oils go into perfumes and flavorings.

History:
No plant since the apple of Eden has had a larger, more telling effect on human history than the black pepper vine. Beginning in 327 B.C., when Alexander the Great invaded India and discovered the pleasures of well-seasoned food, wars have been fought, kingdoms over- thrown, unknown oceans braved, and continents discovered-all for the sake of peppercorns. Attila the Hun, holding all of Rome hostage, demanded 3,000 pounds of them as tribute.

Throughout medieval Europe, pepper was commonly traded, ounce for ounce, for gold. In 1488, in search of a water route to the spice markets of India, Bartholomeu Dias first sailed the raging waters around Africa's Cape of Good Hope. Four years later, looking for an easier route to the same markets, Columbus landed in the New World. In the centuries that followed, European nations vied viciously with each other in colonizing tropical lands and trying to comer the spice market.

Used For:
It acts as an aromatic, stimulant, stomachic, analgesic, anthelmintic, carminative, and expectorant.

Black pepper’s hot and penetrating qualities are a great stimulant to agni as they help to increase enzymatic secretions. This helps to enhance absorption of nutrients and literally ‘burn’ ama.

Useful in anorexia, low appetite to stimulate hunger and interest in food, improves sluggish digestion, borborygmus, removes colonic toxins or ama, helps in diarrhea relieves abdominal colic pain and nausea.

As it contains chromium, a component of glucose tolerance factor, black pepper is a useful part of many diabetes treatments; it normalizes medas dhatu and prevents ama overflowing into the pancreas and urine (Tillotson 2001).

Specific for cold, wet, damp, kapha conditions with white, sticky mucus and a productive cough; asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and sore throats (Bhavaprakas´a). Black pepper infused oil or ghee, applied into the nose, can be a wonderful decongestant to the sinuses blocked with kapha or ama relieves chronic sinus congestion.

It can help to ‘cook’ the pathogens and then induce sweat to release the misplaced agni that has moved from the stomach to the plasma tissue. It clears ama from rasa dhatu and normalizes the digestive fire in the stomach. Used as part of treatment in intermittent fevers such as malaria when it is often combined with bitter and cooling herbs (Paranjpe 2001).

Pepper has the ability to stimulate microcirculation in the capillaries. This can be useful in cirrhosis, hepatitis and skin diseases with signs of stagnant blood; red or purple patches and chronic lesions. This can also be of benefit in cold congestion in the uterus and apanaksetra with dysmenorrhoea and amenorrhoea.

It acts as rubefacient, resolvent and stimulant when used externally. External application of the essential oil can help to relieve neuralgic and arthritic pain with cold swellings (Gogte 2000).

It is used in toothache, paralysis and obesity. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties.

It stimulates absorption of several micronutrients in the body such as coenzyme Q-10, beta-carotene and EGCG (a powerful anti-oxidant).

East Africans believe that body odor produced after eating substantial amounts of pepper repels mosquitoes.

Black pepper is used in liniments and gargles; they have been used as carminatives, reducing stomach and intestinal gas; and they have been found to stimulate the activity of the heart and kidneys. It is also an effective insecticide against houseflies. Gardeners use pepper sprays against several kinds of pests.

For toothache
Make a decoction of the pepper by adding 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper to 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir, cover and simmer on low heat for 7 minutes. Steep still covered for another 15 minutes. Strain. Rinse the mouth with small sips with warm decoction. Retain the liquid in the mouth for a minute or more. Repeat as needed.

Safety:
2-4 ratti (.25–.05 gm) per day can be taken safely (Bhavaprakasha Nighantu). Exercise care. Herbs in Ayurvedic medicine are commonly mixed with other herbal medicines to reduce the toxic effect one of them may produce on the body.