Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is native to India and other southeastern Asian countries. Black pepper, white pepper, green pepper, pink pepper, and red pepper are all differently preserved berries or seeds of the Piper nigrum plant. Although black pepper has been used as a spice for millennia, it has also traditionally been used in India to treat diarrhea. In the Ayurvedic tradition, a preparation called Trikatu (black pepper, long pepper, and ginger) is prescribed routinely for a variety of diseases.
Recent laboratory studies indicate that black pepper may also be beneficial in pain and Alzheimer's disease. In clinical trials, inhalation of black pepper oil improved withdrawal symptoms of cigarette smoking and the ability to swallow in post-stroke patients and in children with neurologic disorders.
Ingestion of black pepper may cause dyspepsia (upset stomach) and other gastrointestinal adverse effects. Inhalation of black pepper has caused respiratory irritation, edema, and even respiratory arrest, severe anoxia, and death. There may also be a link between ingestion of black pepper and nasopharyngeal or esophageal cancer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved black pepper, black pepper oil, black pepper oleoresin, piperidine, and piperine as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in foods in the United States.
Bai hu jiao (Chinese), beta-caryophyllene, Bioperine®, bisalkaloids, black pepper essential oil, black pepper oil, Brazilian black pepper, dipiperamide D, dipiperamide E, golmirch (Hindi), green pepper, guineensine, kaalii mirch (Hindi), kuru mulagu (Malayalam), kurumilagu (Malayalam), kurumulaku (Malayalam), nallamulaku (Malayalam), pimenta negra (Portuguese), pimenta-do-reino (Portuguese - Brazil), pimento (Portuguese), pimienta (Spanish), pimienta negra (Spanish), pimiento (Spanish), pink pepper Piperaceae (family), piperine, piptigrine, poivre (French), poivre noir (French), red pepper, terpenoid, white pepper, wisanine.
Combination product examples: Aller-7/NR-A2 (Phyllanthus emblica, Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellerica, Albizia lebbeck, Piper nigrum, Zingiber officinale, Piper longum), Amrita Bindu (Piper nigrum, Piper longum, Zingiber officinale, Cyperus rotundus, and Plumbago zeylanica), majoweh (sour pomegranate seeds, black pepper, dried raisins, occasionally garlic), majum (sour pomegranate seeds, black pepper, dried raisins, occasionally garlic), trikatu (black pepper, long pepper, ginger).
Note: Black pepper, white pepper, green pepper, pink pepper, and red pepper are all differently preserved berries or seeds of the Piper nigrum plant. However, "red pepper" is also a term used to describe peppers of the Capsicum genus, which are not included in this monograph. This monograph also does not include other Piper species, such as Piper longum or Piper guineense, or constituents specific to these species, such as piperlongumine, which are also studied for their medicinal uses.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Neurologic disorders (difficulty swallowing)
One study indicates that nasal inhalation of volatile black pepper oil in children with neurologic disorders may improve swallowing dysfunction symptoms. More higher-quality research is needed in this area.
One study indicates that nasal inhalation of volatile black pepper oil in older adults may improve postural stability while the eyes are closed. More higher-quality research is needed in this area.
Sensory cues associated with cigarette smoking can suppress certain smoking withdrawal symptoms, including the craving for cigarettes. Inhalation of black pepper essential oil may reduce cravings and physical symptoms associated with cigarette smoking withdrawal.
Stroke recovery (difficulty swallowing)
Nasal inhalation of volatile black pepper oil in post-stroke patients may improve swallowing dysfunction symptoms. However, more research is needed in this area.