Black pepper is a spice popularly known as 'Kali Mirchi' in India. It highly valued in Ayurveda for its medicinal benefits. Dried berries are used as corn or in powdered form as flavouring agent in various cuisines, salads, pickles and soups.
Physical appearance. Black pepper grows in the vines which bear medium sized heart shaped leaves and bunches of flowers. The flowers produce tiny berries, green when unripe.
Geographical distribution. Black pepper is primarily grown in India. The state of Kerala is the major producer of this crop.
Chemical composition. Black pepper contains essential oil composed of chemicals piperine and piperidine which give pungent taste to berries.
Part used. Dried berries are used as spice. They are classed as white pepper and black pepper
Medical benefits. Black pepper is mainly used in treatment of cold, cough and other respiratory disorders. It is a 'warming ' spice and a vasodilator. It helpful in fever and improves blood circulation. Studies have revealed that 'curcumin' present in turmeric acts faster in presence of black pepper to fight cancer. Piperine present in pepper is antibacterial, hence it prevents food poisoning in mild cases.
Direction for use. Make decoction by boiling 7-8 corns of pepper with a small piece of ginger and 4-5 leaves of Tulsi in a cup of water until reduced to half a cup. Drink in the morning. It will give relief from cold, cough and other respiratory troubles. Mix a pinch of pepper powder and half ml of ginger juice in a teaspoon of honey. Consume in the morning till symptoms subside. It is also beneficial in reducing cough, sore throat and cold. Small amount of pepper powder added in buttermilk improves flavour and digestibility.
Contraindications. Black pepper should be used in a small quantity. Powder can cause temporary sneezing in some cases