Pharmaceutical Name - Fructus Piperis nigri
Botanical Name - Piper Nugrum
Plant family - Piperaceae (pepper family). 

Black pepper comes from the berries of the pepper plant. Black pepper, green pepper and white peppercorns are actually the same fruit. The difference in their color is a reflection of varying stages of development and processing methods. 

Black peppercorns are made by picking the pepper berries when they are half ripe and just about to turn red. They are then left to dry which causes them to shrivel and become dark in color. Alternatively, green peppercorns are picked while still unripe and green in color, while white peppercorns are picked when very ripe and subsequently soaked in brine to remove their dark outer shell leaving just the white pepper seed. 

Black pepper is the most pungent and flavorful of all types of peppers and it is available as whole or cracked peppercorns or ground into powder. 


Sensory quality 

Pungent and aromatic. Black and green peppercorns are more aromatic than the white ones.

 


Main constituents 

Black pepper contains about 3% essential oil, whose aroma is dominated (max. 80%) by mono¬terpene hydro¬carbons: sabinene, β-pinene, limonene, furthermore terpinene, α-pinene, myrcene, Δ3-carene and mono¬terpene derivatives (borneol, carvone, carvacrol, 1,8-cineol, linalool). Sesqui¬terpenes make up about 20% of the essential oil: β-caryophyllene, humulene, β-bisabolone and caryophyllene oxide and ketone. Phenylether (eugenol, myristicin, safrole) are found in traces. Loss of monoterpenes due to bad storage conditions (especially for ground pepper) should be avoided. 

The most important odorants organoleptically in black pepper are linalool, α-phellandrene, limonene, myrcene and α-pinene; furthermore, branched-chain aldehydes were found (3-methylbutanal, methylpropanal). The musty flavour of old pepper is attributed to the formation of heterocyclic compounds (2-isopropyl-3-methoxypyrazine, 2,3-diethyl-5-methylpyrazine) in concentrations of about 1 ppb. (Eur. Food Res. Technol., 209, 16, 1999) 

The essential oil of white pepper has received less attention; the content of essential oil is lower (1%), and the most abundant compounds are monoterpene hydrocarbons: limonene, β-pinene, α-pinene and α-phellandrene. Organoleptically most important are linalool (although occurring as a minor component), limonene, α-pinene and phenylpropanoids (eugenol, piperonal); furthermore, short-chain aldehydes and carboxylic acids have been found important. In overstored white pepper, scatole is formed (2 ppm) and imparts an disagreeable, faecal flavour. (Eur. Food Res. Technol., 209, 27, 1999) 

The pungent principle in pepper is an alkaloid-analog compound, piperine; it is the amide of 5-(2,4-dioxymethylene-phenyl)-hexa-2,4-dienoic acid (piperinic acid) with azinane (piperidine); only the trans,trans conformer contributes to pepper’s pungency. Several piperine-analogs have been isolated from black pepper where the acid carbon backbone is partially hydrogenated (piperanine) or two carbon atoms longer (piperettine); amides of piperinic acid with pyrrolidine (piperyline) or isobutylamine (piperlongumine) have also been isolated. Total content of piperine-analogs in black pepper is about 5%.

 



Origin

Black pepper is native to Malabar, a region in the Western Coast of South India. Pepper is cultivated since millennia. Black and white pepper were already known in antiquity, but green pepper is a recent invention. 

Pepper reached South East Asia more than two thousand years ago and is grown in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia since about that time. In the last decades of the 20.th century, pepper production increased dramatically as new plantations were founded in Thailand, Vietnam, and China. 
 

Health Benefits
Improve Digestion and Promote Intestinal Health

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. When the body's production of hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion, or it may pass into the intestines, where it can be used as a food source for unfriendly gut bacteria, whose activities produce gas, irritation, and/or diarrhea or constipation. 

Black pepper has long been recognized as a carminitive, (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas), a property likely due to its beneficial effect of stimulating hydrochloric acid production. In addition, black pepper has diaphoretic (promotes sweating), and diuretic (promotes urination) properties. 

Black pepper has demonstrated impressive antioxidant and antibacterial effects-yet another way in which this wonderful seasoning promotes the health of the digestive tract. And not only does black pepper help you derive the most benefit from your food, the outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, keeping you slim while giving you energy to burn. 


11 Health Benefits of Black Pepper !
 

  • Good for stomach: Pepper increases the hydrochloric acid secretion in stomach and thus, helps digestion. Proper digestion is essential to avoid diarrhea, constipation and colic. Pepper also helps to prevent formation of intestinal gas. Pepper-added diet promotes sweating and urination.
  • Helps to lose weight: The outer layer of peppercorn assists in the breakdown of fat cells. Hence, peppery foods are a good way to help you shed weight.
  • Good for skin: Pepper helps to cure Vitiligo, which is a skin disease that causes some areas of skin to lose its normal pigment and turn white.
  • According to researchers in London, piperine contained in pepper can stimulate the skin to produce pigment. Topical treatment of piperine combined with ultra violet light therapy is much better than the other treatments for vitiligo. It also reduces the chances of skin cancer due to excess ultraviolet radiation.
  • Relief for cough and cold: In Ayurveda pepper is added in tonics for cold and cough. Pepper gives relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion.
  • The antibacterial property of black pepper helps to fight against infections, insect bites etc. Pepper added diet helps to keeping your arteries clean.
  • Good antioxidant: An antioxidant, like pepper, can prevent or repair the damage caused by the free radicals and thus helps to prevent cancer, cardiovascular diseases and liver problems.
  • Enhances bioavailability: Black pepper helps in transporting the benefits of other herbs to different parts of body.
  • According to Ayurveda, black pepper also helps avoid ear-ache and gangrene. It is also good for conditions of hernia, hoarseness and insect bites. It relieves joint pain.
  • It is a good treatment for respiratory conditions like asthma, whooping cough etc.
  • It is used to treat conditions of tooth decay and toothache. In ancient times, pepper was also used to treat eye problems.

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