BLACK PEPPER (Piper nigrum)

Common name: Black pepper , Lada Hitam
BOtanical name: Piper nigrum

Usage : Cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. In dried form, the fruit is often referred to as peppercorns. Peppercorns, and the powdered pepper derived from grinding them, may be described as black pepper, white pepper, red/pink pepper, and green pepper, though the terms pink peppercorns, red pepper, and green pepper are also used to describe the fruits of other, unrelated plants.

Pepper as a medicine : ‘There’s certainly too much pepper in that soup!’ Alice said to herself, as well as she could for sneezing. — Alice in Wonderland (1865). Chapter VI: Pig and Pepper. Note the cook’s pepper mill.

Like many eastern spices, pepper was historically both a seasoning and a medicine. Long pepper, being stronger, was often the preferred medication, but both were used.

Black peppercorns figure in remedies in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicine in India. The 5th century Syriac Book of Medicines prescribes pepper (or perhaps long pepper) for such illnesses as constipation, diarrhea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, insomnia, joint pain, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay, and toothaches.Various sources from the 5th century onward also recommend pepper to treat eye problems, often by applying salves or poultices made with pepper directly to the eye. There is no current medical evidence that any of these treatments has any benefit; pepper applied directly to the eye would be quite uncomfortable and possibly damaging.

Pepper has long been believed to cause sneezing; this is still believed true today. Some sources say that piperine, a substance present in black pepper, irritates the nostrils, causing the sneezing; some say that it is just the effect of the fine dust in ground pepper, and some say that pepper is not in fact a very effective sneeze-producer at all. Few if any controlled studies have been carried out to answer the question.

As a medicine, Pepper appears in the Buddhist monastic code, chapter five, as one of the few medicines allowed to be carried by a monk.

Pepper is eliminated from the diet of patients having abdominal surgery and ulcers because of its irritating effect upon the intestines, being replaced by what is referred to as a bland diet.

Pepper contains small amounts of safrole, a mildly carcinogenic compound.

It has been shown that piperine can dramatically increase absorption of selenium, vitamin B and beta-carotene as well as other nutrients.

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