1.1 What is a black pepper?
The black pepper, botanical name: Piper nigrum, also known as pepper (cooked and dried unripe fruit), green pepper (dried unripe fruit) and white pepper (ripe fruit seeds); Chinese Pinyin: Hu Jiao, Simplified Chinese: 胡椒, is a species of slow-growing, perennial, liana (woody vine), flowering plant in genus Piper in the pepper family, Piperaceae. The term black pepper can refer to the plant as well as the fruits or seeds of the plant. The flowers are small, produced on pendulous spikes 4 to 8 centimetres (1.6 to 3.1 in) long at the leaf nodes, the spikes lengthening up to 7 to 15 centimetres (2.8 to 5.9 in) as the fruit matures. The edible fruit is a drupe (or stone fruit), nearly spherical, small in size between 3-4 mm in diameter with red skin when completely mature. Native to Southeast Asia and extensively cultivated in tropical regions, habitats of black pepper include closed forests, fields, hillsides and village sides (usually found from between 800 to 1500 meters in elevation). Characteristics of black pepper include tolerance for heat, cold, drought, wind and ability to withstand cultivation at high altitudes.
Other names for the black pepper include: Wild pepper, peppercorns.
Other simplified Chinese names for black pepper include: 白胡椒, 黑胡椒, 昧履支, 披垒.
1.2 How does black pepper taste?
Good black pepper has a robust, wrinkled surface texture with a flavor that is hot, mildly bitter, pungent, vibrant and musky.
1.3 How do I tell if my black peppers are ripe?
Black peppers start to form quickly after flowering which happens usually during spring and summer. During ripening, both green and red peppercorn fruits will exist at the same time (the red one are the ripening fruits). Both green or red peppercorn fruits can be harvested as per demand. However, overripe, red peppercorn fruits will lose its pungency as a seasoning.
1.4 How is black pepper used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The dried fruits of black pepper is considered to have pungent and heat properties and to be associated with the stomach and large intestine meridians. It is used as cold-dispelling drug, detoxicant, analgesic and expectorant (it help bring up mucus and other material from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea) in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as nausea, vomiting, dysentery and severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the feces.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Black Pepper & Medical Formulas
2.1 Aid Digestion
Intake of black pepper promote the secretion of hydrochloric acid secretion in our stomach and thus enhance the activity of digestion. The chemical compound hydrochloric acid (or muriatic acid) is the aqueous (water-based) solution of hydrogen chloride gas (HCl), the powerful acid is essential and needed in the process of digestion of proteins, food and various nutrients in the stomach. Good digestion helps to prevent various digestive disorders including bloating in the stomach, constipation, diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, colic as well as stomach cramps.
2.2 Vitiligo And Skin Health
Vitiligo, a skin pigmentation disorder, which afflicts some 100 million people across the world, is featured by the loss of pigment in the affected part of the skin. It is the disease that pop star Michael Jackson publicly disclosed that he had. It is neither life threatening nor infectious (ohsu.edu 2017). A recent joint study from UK and US researchers revealed that black pepper can effectively control Vitiligo spread in many patients suffering from this skin disease as the effective constituents derived from black peppers act as a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Besides, black pepper is a well accepted diuretic and diaphoretic which help to expel toxins and certain wastes from our body and clean the skin.
2.3 Reducing Inflammation, Swelling And Relieving Pain
Inflammation is our body’s natural reaction to harmful stimuli (such as injury, damaged cells and infection). The situations of inflammation can be classified into two types: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. While acute inflammation begins quickly and normally go away within a week, chronic inflammation may continue for months or years probably because the body fail to cure the diseases or remove the reasons behind the inflammation process. Studies have long established the link between chronic inflammation and various diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and Parkinson’s disease. Studies showed that piperine extracted from black pepper is a powerful anti-oxidant, it does not do much on its own but can inhibit enzymes that would attack other molecules. Piperine inhibits IL-β induced expression of inflammatory mediators in human osteoarthritis chondrocyte and therefore may effectively reduce certain inflammation and prevent various possible diseases related to chronic inflammation.
[CTM Formula] A mixture of synthetic cinnabar, clamshell, clove, black pepper, pinellia ternata (半夏) and ginger juice can be made into pills for oral taking to mitigate spleen pain.
[CTM Formula] Wax-wrapped pill made with long pepper fruits and black pepper is used externally to treat swollen gums.
[CTM Formula] Pills made with long pepper fruits, fucklandia rhizome, Aconitum carmichaelii root, black pepper, cinnamon, dried ginger, terminalia chebula bark (calcined), mangnolia officinalis and honey is taken orally with rice soup on an empty stomach to treat stomachache caused by hypofunction of the spleen.
2.4 Lingering Diarrhea And Spermaturia
[CTM Formula] Red halloysite, dried ginger, black pepper, vinegar and cooked rice can be processed into pills for oral taking to treat lingering diarrhea and spermaturia (a disease characterized by the presence of sperm in the urine).
2.5 Gynecological Diseases and Disorders
[CTM Formula] Medicated soup with ginkgos, lotus seeds, sticky rice, black pepper and a silkie chicken is taken orally to treat red and white vaginal discharge.
2.6 Nausea And Vomiting
[CTM Formula] Pills made with black peppers (soaked in vinegar, sun-dried and powdered), wine and rice paste is taken orally with vinegar soup to treat nausea and vomiting.
2.7 Constipation And Difficulty Passing Urine
[CTM Formula] A decoction of powdered black peppers and mirabilite is taken orally to treat constipation and difficulty passing urine.
3. Contraindication, Side-effects & Cautions
Administration with caution for people experiencing deficiency of yin, hyperactivity of fire, coughing, diabetes, hematemesis, haemorrhoids or hypertension.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.
List of reference
ohsu.edu 2017 Piperine for the treatment of vitiligo [online] Retrieved 21 August 2017. Link: http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/education/schools/school-of-medicine/departments/clinical-departments/dermatology-research/basic-science-research/piperine-research.cfm