Black pepper is a spice widely used in cooking and it has many beneficial properties: it promotes digestion and stimulates the metabolism and it also provides an antiseptic and expectorant action. It is also widely used in slimming diets as it stimulates thermogenesis, avoiding the accumulation of fat. For external use, black pepper is used to prepare lotions to be massaged on the body to relieve muscle and joint pain or for relaxing massages.
Black pepper is obtained from the Piper Nigrum plant, native to India. Through different types of processing of the fruits of this plant, different species of pepper can be obtained, not only the black one, but also the green pepper and white pepper. In particular, black pepper is obtained by blanching the unripe fruits in hot water and then left to dry in the sun for a few days. A different thing is instead the pink pepper, also known as "false pepper”, which is obtained from the Shinus molle plant and which has a more delicate taste than the other types of pepper: it is usually used for decorative purposes, while the other ones are used to flavor and make the dishes spicy. But let's find out more about the properties of this precious spice.
Properties and benefits of black pepper
Black pepper, according to Ayurvedic medicine, promotes digestion and it helps to stimulate metabolism: this is thanks to the presence of piperine, one of the most active ingredients present in pepper and which gives this spice tonic properties, favoring the secretion of gastric juices. This is why pepper helps to digest and favors the absorption of nutrients contained in food: it is in fact recommended in turmeric based treatments, to detoxify the liver. The association of black pepper and turmeric helps to stimulate liver purification. Black pepper also stimulates thermogenesis, helping to burn more calories and avoiding the accumulation of fat: it is therefore useful to promote weight loss and weight control, always combined with a correct and balanced diet and a regular physical activity.
Pepper also has antiseptic, expectorant and purifying properties, it also increases the production of endorphins: this spice is in fact considered a natural antidepressant, as it helps, chemically, to fight depression. Black pepper also has analgesic properties, useful for treating joint and muscle pain, there are also those who attribute aphrodisiac properties to this spice. Black pepper is also rich in antioxidants, which delay aging and help prevent some cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, especially colon cancer. The sweating effect of pepper is useful for those who want to detox: use it to prepare a hot bath. Black pepper also has cosmetic properties, it is considered a good remedy against various skin disorders: it would seem to be an effective treatment in the case of vitiligo and acne. In fact, wellness centers use it for skin treatments, but also for the formulation of lotions to perform relaxing massages against muscle and joint pain and to combat swelling.
Black pepper: how to use it in the kitchen and for body care
Black pepper in the kitchen can be used in many different ways, either on its own, for example for preparing spaghetti with cheese or pepper, but also for flavoring meat, fish and vegetables. The pairing of pepper with chocolate and dried fruit is also excellent: it is in fact used for the preparation of panpepato, a spicy dessert made of chocolate and dried fruit. Black pepper is also used in cooking to make spice mixtures, such as garam masala, a spice mixture typical of Indian and Pakistani cuisine. To increase the absorption of nutrients contained in foods, the advice is to add a pinch of pepper each time you use turmeric, as in the preparation of the Golden Milk.
The ideal thing, however, would be to use the black pepper in whole grains, to be ground at the moment, so as to maintain its flavor and aroma. Then add the pepper always at the end of cooking, so as to preserve all its properties.
For external use you can also use pepper for body care: let the black pepper grains soak in sweet almond oil and use it to perform relaxing or muscular massages. A bath with the essence of pepper black, on the other hand, stimulates sweating and helps purify the body. In case of bruises you can use black pepper as a natural remedy to eliminate swelling and reduce pain, along with cold compresses.