Black pepper essential oil is steam distilled from the unripe red fruit of the piper nigrum, a member of the piperaceae botanical family. Its main chemical components include linalool, limonene, a-pinene, b-pinene, myrcene, sabinene, camphene, piperitone, caryophyllene, pinocarveol, b-bisabolene, p-cymene, a-terpinene, a-thujone, a-phellandrene, and b-farnesene, of which pipene is the constituent that lends it a sharp spiciness. Black pepper is also densely packed with minerals that include potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium and manganese, as well as powerful antioxidants including vitamins C and A. It is probably best known for its ubiquitous use in culinary applications, which have been documented for well over two thousand years, but its use in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as well as in western medicinal practice is also well-known. Hence, it has always been a commodity, prized both for its flavor, and its range of therapeutic applications. Originally a forest plant, the climbing, woody vine originated in India, but is also grown in Madagascar, China, and Indonesia. The biggest producers of black pepper essential oil today include Singapore, India and Malaysia. The oil itself is a clear, colorless liquid with a thin consistency, and a sharp, dry, spicy, and woody aroma, representing a medium-strength middle fragrance note.
Pepper essential oil in history
Ancient Egyptians used black pepper in their embalming process, and it was also widely used as both a culinary spice and a medicine by the Romans and ancient Greeks. As the most widely traded spice, it was even used as an exchange commodity. Considered as valuable as gold, it was sometimes referred to as ‘black gold.’ In the 5th century, black pepper essential oil was used in salves or poultices in the treatment of eye diseases. Ancient Indian mystics used black pepper to help them endure and retain their vitality through periods of fasting or when traveling long distances. In Ayurveda, it was used to treat throat infections, lung diseases, tooth decay, congestion, cold and cough. One of the most popular Ayurvedic ‘cure-alls’ is a preparation called ‘Trikatu,’ a combination of black pepper, long pepper, and ginger, which is used to treat a range of complaints, including headache, sore throat and cough. In Chinese medicine, it has been recommended as early as 2 BC for treating abdominal spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, and many types of pain. Making its way to Europe, it became popular as a seasoning as well as a preservative for perishable items like meat, and certain prepared foods.
Pepper oil uses
Stimulant: increases alertness and stamina, helping to chase away physical and mental fatigue. Use upon awakening – it’s better than coffee! Best to avoid use before bedtime.
Improve circulation: stimulates the CNS, raises body temperature and encourages blood circulation to the extremities.
Analgesic: has a warming quality, which helps to relieve joint pain from arthritis, bursitis, overuse, or sports injury.
Sinus health: stimulates mucous production, clears the sinuses, and can be effective if you suffer from seasonal or environmental allergies, or if you are recovering from a head cold.
Stomach: helps the body to break down food more efficiently, combating indigestion, gas, flatulence, and general stomach upset.
Weight loss: improves metabolism and curbs hunger, which may be helpful if you are trying to lose weight.
Addiction recovery: studies have proven black pepper essential oil to be effective in curbing cravings for cigarettes and other addictive substances.
Appetite stimulant: stimulates saliva production, and can help to restore food palatability for those who suffer from anorexia, nervous stomach, or other eating disorders.
Anxiety: relieves stress and anxious feelings, which can lead to a sense of well being.
Respiratory health: relieves symptoms of seasonal colds and flu, clears breathing passages and promotes mucous motility.
Antioxidant: contains high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as a long list of minerals that help to strengthen the body’s disease resistance by ridding the system of toxifying substances.
Enhances bioavailability of other herbs: blend with other medicinal herbs to increase their therapeutic action and uptake.
Memory: stimulates brain function, increases oxygen supply to the brain, and improves your ability to remember details, which can be helpful when studying for an exam or preparing for an important presentation.
Antiseptic: known to inhibit the growth of various bacteria and infection-causing organisms, both in food, in the gut, and on surfaces.
Oral health: slows and prevents tooth decay and helps to ease the pain of toothaches.
Anti-pruritic: calms the itch response caused by insect bites, minor skin irritations or rash.
Expectorant: relieves coughs by loosening mucous congestion of the chest and sinuses.
Culinary: highly concentrated, black pepper essential oil adds a punch of spice to your marinades and sauces.
May cause fits of sneezing, so black pepper essential oil should be avoided if you have recently undergone surgery for hernia, glaucoma, or any other abdominal surgery. It may have an irritating effect on the intestinal tract, and should not be taken in high concentrations: small amounts are best for therapeutic use or for flavoring your food. Some may experience an allergic reaction to black pepper essential oil. If you have allergies to black pepper, avoid use entirely. Avoid use if the oil becomes oxidized, which is characterized by a darkening of the oil and a rancid smell. As black pepper essential oil is a ‘hot oil,’ it can cause severe skin irritation: heed all recommended dilution factors, and test on a small, insensitive area of the skin prior to liberal use. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your physician prior to use.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.