Add some pep to your step with Black Pepper

Everyone has heard of black pepper, it graces pretty much every eating establishment in America. Including the tables of people who claim they don’t use herbs in their cooking. Black pepper is one of the oldest recorded herbs used, so perhaps its long history in human history has allowed it to wiggle its way into the hearts of even the most stubborn-I-do-not-like-herbs-in-my-food humans. While those humans just think of it as something to shake on to their food to add flavor there are tons of other things our ancestors used black pepper for throughout history. 

But first, let’s talk about herbal stimulants. Black Pepper is considered a stimulant in the herbal world. 

But what does that mean? 

Stimulants, well, stimulate the body into action. So it can help stimulate the metabolism, circulation, move blockages in the body, and they are generally warming to the body. 

How does that translate to help you? 

Well if you are experiencing the beginning of an acute illness (think the beginning stages of a cold or flu) you want to give your body a nudge to rally up – you want the body to use some of its energy it has stored up just for this moment. So you would use a stimulant, like Black Pepper, or another one that I’ve written about before is Cayenne, to help activate the body’s energy to try to overcome illness faster. 

Another thing a stimulant is used for in the herbal world is for helping to build energy levels back up for a person with a debilitating chronic disease. That being said, each stimulant is slightly different and has its area of “expertise”. You can see those areas of “expertise” for black pepper in how our ancestors have used it over the course of history:

  • Aiding in the prevention and expulsion of mucous 
  • Getting saliva stimulated and improving digestion
  • Combined with cayenne to help persistent low grade fevers
  • Taken at the beginning of most diseases
  • Imbalances with the large intestine and stomach
  • Urinary tract issues 
  • Sexual imbalances 
  • Externally for hemorrhoids, toothaches, paralyzed nerves,  arthritis, rheumatism and other joint problems and for sprains- thought to draw up and out deep rooted inflammation (though to some black pepper can be irritating to the skin) 
  • Paralysis of the tongue and relaxing to the uvula (the uvula secrets saliva to your mouth and throat)  

I find that last one to be particularly interesting! 

Black pepper has anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties – which is probably why it has been used throughout history at the beginning signs of an illness. And has been known to  help with food poisoning and nausea. 

If you subscribe to my newsletters you might remember at the beginning of the year I sent out an ancient honey formula that had black pepper in it. Honey is an excellent way to experience black pepper – especially if you have a cold, sore throat, or lung congestions. 

I have been planning on making some medicinal honey to have on hand in my household, but I’ve been going back and forth on the formula. But black pepper’s place is firm on the list. Particularly, because by some it is considered a spleen tonic. In Chinese Medicine thinking, I lean towards spleen imbalance (and so do a lot of my clients, I have a very spleen centered practice). For me, what this means is if I go out of balance it shows up as either one of these or a combo (depending on how out of balance I am): anxiety, usually in the form of circular thoughts, digestive issues, and hormonal issues. So I will be very curious to see how I do with taking a medicinal amount every day. 

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*Disclaimer* None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. This article is meant solely for educational purposes. Please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications

Works Cited 

Grieve, Margaret. A Modern Herbal. Vol. 1, Dover Publications Inc, 1971.

Keville, Kathi, and Mindy Green. Aromatherapy. Crossing Press, 2009.

Tierra, Lesley. Healing with Chinese Herbs. Eastern Dragon Press, 1999.Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books, 1998.

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