15 Remarkable Health Benefits of Black Pepper

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Black pepper is one of the earliest spices native to the Malabar Coast of India. These spices come from the ripe Piper nigrum berries. The presence of alkaloid piperine gives this condiment its characteristic hot, biting, and pungent touch. Its heat sets its apart from other types of spices.

Along with its use in human dietaries, black pepper has also been used as an herbal remedy in various systems of medicine such as Ayurveda. Piperine, sylvatin, sesamin, pipermonaline and beta-caryophyllene are some of the important compounds present in this spice that make it an important spice. The following 15 black pepper benefits that lead to its popularity:

1. Enhances Digestion

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Black pepper has been used in conventional medicines to improve digestive processes. Improved appetite, absorption and controlled dyspepsia are some of the bowel health benefits related to the consumption of black pepper. These spices can also be used in the treatment of gastric disorders such as constipation and diarrhea.

Daily consumption of black pepper along with foods good for gut health helps to improve gastrointestinal functionality. Some of the remarkable features contributing to this improvement include enhancement in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and digestive enzymes of the pancreas and reduction in gastrointestinal food digestion time.

2. Prevents Cancer

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Consumption of foods rich in bioactive molecules has been associated with reduced risk of ailments such as cancer. Meanwhile, the use of spices such as black pepper containing these molecules especially in Asian and Mediterranean regions has been positively correlated with reduced incidence of cancer.

Piperine and pellitorine are compounds that contribute to the anticancer perspective of black pepper. Piperine is responsible for detoxifying the body and preventing the initiation of tumors. Likewise, improvement in the antioxidant status helps in tracking down harmful radicals that initiate cancer formation. Piperine also prevents mechanisms that retard excess cell growth. On the other hand, the toxicity of pellitorine against cancer cell lines has been observed in studies.  

3. Improves Brain Function

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Black pepper has been known to improve cognitive functions such as learning, thinking, memorizing and problem-solving power. The antioxidant property and presence of bioactive compounds in this functional food is of remarkable importance in improving brain function.

The antidepressant-like activity of piperine helps in ameliorating chronic mild stress by upregulating the brain-derived neurotrophic factors which are proteins needed for the survival of neurons. So, adding black pepper to your brain-healthy foods can be a great way to improve concentration and learning.

4. Prevents Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

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Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's are one of the biggest challenges being faced by mankind. The potency of natural products such as black pepper in preventing and treating such disorders has been keenly studied by scientists around the globe.

Piperine and methyl piperate (analog of piperine), compounds present in black pepper have been demonstrated to significantly improve degeneration of brain cells and memory impairment in animal studies. An increased level of brain messenger chemical called acetylcholine is observed in these disorders which is reversed by these compounds. 

5. Has Anti-Inflammatory Activity

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The inflammatory burst in the body is linked with disorders in the body. One of the possible modes of inflammation is the elicit of inflammatory enzymes responsible for this inflammatory burst. Diets containing functional ingredients can hold these undesirable reactions.

The anti-inflammatory property of black pepper was first reported in studies when piperine was able to mitigate the acute inflammatory processes. More studies strengthened this property of piperine by performing other in-vitro trials successively. Overall, the active ingredients of black pepper can help reduce the risk of abrupt ailments brought about by inflammation such as neurodegenerative diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

6. Has Antimicrobial Properties

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The use of spices as antimicrobials is allied with the prevention of infections. Phenolics present in spices hold antimicrobial properties. Piperine and extracts of black pepper have been displayed to show inhibition of various bacteria such as E. coli. 

The phenolic compounds distort the membranes of these pathogens hence restricting their growth. Antiparasitic potential and insect-repellant properties of black pepper also have been demonstrated by studies. The remarkable use of black pepper extracts and oil in preserving foods and infections can be diverse applications of black pepper.

7. Prevents Diabetes

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Diabetes is yet another worldwide metabolic disorder havoc. The consumption of black pepper is correlated to a decrease in blood sugar levels and an increase in insulin secretion. The high-fat diet-induced change in blood glucose levels and insulin resistance are hence reversed by the use of these spices.

Among many outcomes of diabetes, glycation of proteins has adverse effects on several major organs of the body including the lens protein of the eye. Black pepper is known to have inhibitory reactions in such glycation reactions. Hence, black pepper prevents diabetes as well as reduces the risk of complications associated with diabetes. 

8. Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases

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Increased levels of bad cholesterol and fats are the main factors contributing to the development of cardiovascular diseases(CVDs). The overall improvement in the lipid profile by increasing fat metabolism thus reducing risks of CVDs is one of the important health benefits related to black pepper.

Piperine present in black pepper decreases overall blood pressure hence protecting the health of the circulatory system. Also, the sufficient intake of antioxidants present in black pepper interferes with CVDs by interfering with the reactive oxygen species responsible for injury of cardiac cells.   

9. In Treating Skin Disorders

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Vitiligo is a skin disorder caused by the degradation of skin cells forming pigments known as melanocytes. This gives a characteristic lesion-like appearance to the skin. Black pepper extract has been used to study the treatment of this skin disorder.

The main component piperine stimulates the growth and multiplication of melanocytes helpful in the treatment of this disorder. Likewise, the use of piperine in treating psoriatic skin lesions has also been proven to be efficient. Black pepper has been used to treat skin conditions related to measles, white patches and itchy skin caused by mites.

10. Relieve Pain And Anxiety

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Black pepper is an important part of the treatment of epilepsy and pain in traditional medicine including Chinese Herbal Medicine. The compound piperine is known to have analgesic, anxiolytic, antipyretic and anticonvulsant effects. 

Stress is one of the contributing factors related to anxiety disorders. The increase in oxidative stress observed in anxiety can be minimized by the antioxidants present in the black pepper. Black pepper increases the happy hormone serotonin in the blood which regulates the blood and hence regulates the mood.

11. Has Anti-Aging Property

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Oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation are two complex mechanisms associated with aging. Black pepper tends to prevent both of these mechanisms hence controlling the effects of aging.

The availability of antioxidants in the form of phenolics ameliorates oxidative stress hence reducing signs of aging. On the other hand, oxidative damage to lipids (lipid peroxidation) which contributes to the aging process is reduced by the use of black pepper.

12. Has Anti-Allergic Property

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The reduction in symptomatic allergy responses such as sneezing, redness of the nose and nasal rubbing is observed effect of piperine. Histamine which is a prominent cause of allergies was found to be reduced by dose-dependent treatment with piperine.

The rise in antibodies causing allergies is also inhibited by piperine. Other allergy-related immune cells are also inhibited by this compound. This anti-inflammatory activity makes black pepper effective in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. In animal studies, piperine also ameliorated chronic asthma when combined with curcumin. 

13. Prevents Obesity

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One of the numerous pharmacological effects displayed by black pepper is anti-obesity demonstrated in experimental trials. The high-fat diet-induced weight gain is prevented by the piperine present in these spices.

This property is achieved by the regulation of the activity of enzymes such as lipase and lipid metabolic enzymes responsible for the breakdown of fats in the body. The improvement in liver functions and glucose tolerance is another factor that reduces the accumulation of unwanted fats in the body. Piperine also downregulates adipose tissue forming cycle and halts adipogenesis. 

14. Protects Liver

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Hepatic health markers have been studied to demonstrate the effect of black pepper on liver health. Increased biomarkers ALT, AST and ALP signify liver damage due to various reasons. However, the piperine compound present in black pepper lowers levels of all of these biomarkers.

The accumulation of fats in liver cells is prevented by piperine. The mechanisms supporting the reversal of the lipid level are also supported by black pepper. Animal studies have also supported the administration of this compound to reduce lipid formation and degradation of fatty acids which aids in promoting liver health.  

15. In Curing Cold And Cough

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The consumption of black pepper has been related to curing several health problems including cold and cough. The large number of bioactive compounds present in black pepper such as alkaloids and flavonoids also exhibit antiviral properties.

The increase in the number of white blood cells, associated with the consumption of black pepper, assists the body in developing stronger defense protecting the body from issues like cough and cold. The inflammatory processes leading to cold and cough are also significantly downregulated by piperine and beta-caryophyllene compounds present in the black pepper.  

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