Pepper, scientifically known as Piper nigrum, is a perennial woody vine, grouped under the family of Piperaceae. Native to India and Indonesia, pepper plant grows well in tropical regions. It is cultivated mainly for its fruits, which, in dried form, can be used as spice and seasoning. The fruit in its dried form is known as peppercorn. Peppercorns can be described as black pepper, green pepper and white pepper. Among them, black peppers are most widely used and considered to be an integral part of European cuisine. In addition to awesome flavor, pepper is known for its wonderful medicinal properties.
Medicinal Uses of Pepper
Pepper is loaded with essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. It can be considered as one of the richest source of vitamin A and C. It also contains fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin B6 and minerals like manganese and molybdenum. Phytochemicals in pepper have antioxidant properties. They can neutralize the effect of free radicals, which are responsible for cell damage.
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Vitamin A in pepper is essential for good eyesight. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which eliminates free radicals and reduces the risk of cancer. Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in essential chemical reactions throughout the body, such as brain and immune function. Lutein and zea-xanthin present in pepper can prevent the development of eye diseases like cataracts or macular degeneration. Pepper also consists of lycopene, which can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. Beta-carotene, a constituent of pepper, offers protection from certain types of cancers like breast cancer. Piperine in pepper also contributes a lot in preventing cancer.
– Pepper can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments including diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, liver problems, hernia, insomnia, toothaches, joint pain, sunburns, oral abscesses, earache, insect bites and gangrene. Pepper is widely used as an effective home remedy to get relief from throat congestion, cough and sore throat.
– Piperine present in pepper is a thermogenic compound, which improves thermogenesis of lipids and enhances energy metabolism. It also accelerates the production of serotonin and beta-endorphin in the brain. Piperine from pepper can be helpful to treat vitiligo.
– Piperine content of pepper makes it an effective digestive. It stimulates taste buds and promotes stomach to secrete more hydrochloric acid. This process is essential for digestion of proteins and other foods in stomach. Thus, consumption of pepper can prevent the digestive problems associated with indigested food such as flatulence, constipation, indigestion, diarrhea and acidity. Pepper is a great treatment for anorexia, as it stimulates taste buds to regain appetite.
– Pepper contributes greatly in proper assimilation of food, facilitating extraction of all the essential nutrients. Additionally, phytonutrients present in pepper enhance the breakdown of fat cells. It increases urination and sweating and helps to eliminate excessive fluids and toxins from the body. All these processes, in turn, are helpful in weight loss.
– Apart from removing toxins from your skin, pepper acts as a great exfoliant. Crushed peppers can be added to face pack, which removes dead cells from the skin, stimulates blood circulation and provides more amounts of oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Due to anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, pepper protects the skin from any kind of infection like acne.
– Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of pepper make it the best solution to get rid of dandruff. You can add a teaspoon of crushed pepper to a cup of curd and apply it on the scalp for about half an hour. Then, rinse well with water.
Pepper consists of small quantity of safrole, which is mildly carcinogenic. Also, pepper should be eliminated from the diet of the patients with abdominal surgery and ulcers, as it can cause irritation of intestine.
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