Peeper, also known as the "king of spices" is one of the oldest and most important of all spices. The pepper plant is a stout, smooth evergreen creeper, much swollen at its nodes.
Black pepper is the whole dried fruit, while white is the fruit subjected to treatment in water with the mesocarp removed. Both varieties are ground and used in a powdered form. Black pepper is stimulant, pungent, aromatic, digestive and nervine tonic. Its pungency is due to the resin chavicin, which is most abundant in the mesocarp.
Black pepper consist of moisture 13.2 percent, protein 11.5 percent, fat 6.8 percent, minerals 4.4 percent, fiber 14.9 percent and carbohydrates 49.2 percent per 100 grams. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, iron, phosphorus, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
Botanical Name: Piper nigrum
Indian Name: Kali mirch
Below are some of the medicinal properties of peeper:
- Pepper is an appetizer and a good home remedy for digestive disorders. It has a stimulating effect on the digestive organs and produces an increased flow of saliva and gastric juices. Powdered black pepper, thoroughly mixed with malted jaggery, may be taken in the treatment of such conditions. Alternatively, a quarter teaspoon of pepper powder mixed in the buttermilk can be taken during indigestion or heaviness in the stomach. For better results, an equal part of cumin powder may also be added to the buttermilk.
- Pepper powder and common salt mixture is an excellent dentifrice. Its daily use prevents dental caries, foul breath, bleeding from the gums, painful gums, toothaches and cures the increased sensitiveness of the teeth. A pinch of pepper powder mixed with clove oil can be put in the caries to alleviate toothache.
- Pepper is useful in the treatment of cold and fever. Six pepper seeds finely ground and mixed in a glass of warm water along with 6 pieces of batasha - a variety of sugar candy can be taken for a few nights for good results. In case of acute coryza or cold in the head, 20 grams pepper powder boiled in milk with a pinch of turmeric powder can be used once daily for three days.
- As an external application, pepper dilates the superficial vessels and acts as a counter irritant. A tablespoon of pepper powder fried in sesame oil until it is charred can be applied beneficially as an analgesic liniment for mylagia and rheumatic pains.
- A pinch of finely ground pepper mixed with honey taken twice a day is beneficial in amnesia or dullness of intellect.
- Pepper is a valuable remedy for cough caused due to throat irritation. Three peppers sucked with a pinch of caraway seeds and a crystal of common salt provides relief.
- Eating 6 peppers with 4 almonds once daily with milk is a nerve tonic and act as an aphrodisiac especially in an impotent person.
- Pepper is effective in pyorrhea or pus in the gums. Finely powdered pepper and salt mixture when massaged over the gums relieves inflammation.
- It is most widely used as a condiment, its flavor and pungency blending well with most savory dishes. It is extensively used in pickles, ketchups, sausages and for seasoning dishes.