Black pepper is probably the most common culinary spice in the world. Pepper, either ground or as whole peppercorns, is found in cuisines across the globe and has a centuries-long history of use and cultivation.
If you’re like millions of other people, you probably consume pepper in your food every day, without realizing that it is also an important medicinal spice. Pepper can be used to treat a wide variety of physical symptoms and diseases. The spice is a natural antibiotic and a great dietary source of fiber, potassium, iron and vitamins C and K. Its use in herbal medicine includes the treatment of stomach ailments, anemia, impotence, and heart disease.
So here you go: 10 of the top health benefits of black pepper.
1. Black pepper could aid digestion. Pepper’s natural antibiotic properties make it a good remedy for intestinal diseases caused by bacteria. Pepper causes an increase in the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, improving overall digestion by reducing gas, diarrhea and constipation.
2. Black pepper could help relieve cough and colds. Pepper’s spiciness helps clear congestion and helps clear up sinusitis.
3. Black pepper could help fight cancer. Pepper exerts a free-radical scavenging activity.
4. Black pepper may help in weight loss. The outer layer of the peppercorn contains substances that boost fat metabolism.
5. Black pepper could help treat skin conditions. Pepper is also believed to decrease susceptibility to skin cancers caused by excess ultraviolet radiation.
6. Eating black pepper promotes the absorption of nutrients to all the tissues of the body, improving overall health.
7. Pepper could help fight tooth decay and provide relief from toothache.
8. Black pepper could be used as a natural antidepressant.
9. Black pepper is a powerful antioxidant.
10. Black pepper could reduce inflammation.
A research team recently evaluated the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities of extracts and compounds from black pepper. By using pro-inflammatory transcription factor NF-kappaB, COX-1 and -2 enzymes (responsible for producing substances that fight inflammation), human tumor cell proliferation and “lipid peroxidation” (the process in which free radicals “steal” electrons from lipids in our cell membranes, causing cell damage and increased production of free radicals), the researchers were able to determine the health-boosting properties of pepper.
The researchers found that all compounds derived from black pepper suppressed the inflammation-producing transcription factor NF-kappaB. In particular, black pepper’s alkyl amides were most effective at reducing inflammatory responses. Overall, the research team concluded, these results suggest that black pepper exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer abilities.