Black Pepper | Piper nigrum
Black Pepper oil is derived from the red pepper fruit of the plant, Piper Nigrum. This perennial vine is native to south west India, but is now cultivated in other tropical climates. Piper Nigrum is characterized by a woody vine, heart-shaped leaves and small, white flowers. The plant itself can reach up to 20 feet, but is usually kept to around 12 feet for cultivating. The fully grown, but unripe pepper fruit is picked and the oil is extracted using steam distillation.
The word “pepper” comes from the Latin word “piper.” The history of black pepper is extensive, reaching back to ancient Rome and Greece to treat fever and digestive complaints, as well as enhance the flavor of food. The Chinese used black pepper to treat cholera, malaria, diarrhea and dysentery, while Indian monks were allotted seven to nine peppercorns a day as they traveled to boost their energy. During the middle ages, the Dutch began transporting pepper from China to Europe and it became an extremely valuable commodity for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
The smell of black pepper oil is pungent, crisp and spicy—some find it reminiscent of clove oil. It has a watery viscosity and can range in color from yellow-green to a light amber. Black pepper oil blends well with clary sage, bergamot, coriander, clove, fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, juniper, lime, lemon, mandarin, sage, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang.
Black pepper oil can be added to a massage blend or a warm bath to help improve circulation and to treat sore muscles, rheumatism and bruising. When mixed with another oil and added to a burner or diffuser, black pepper oil contributes a “spicy” note and warms up an individual who is feeling emotionally or physically cold. Additionally, the aroma is comforting and stimulating to those suffering from the common cold or a fever. Some studies show that the use of black pepper oil in aromatherapy is helpful to those trying to quit smoking.
Black pepper oil stimulates digestive secretions, encourages peristalsis and tones the colon, making it an extremely effective digestive aid. Because black pepper oil so effectively stimulates blood flow, it may also trigger blood production for the health of the spleen. For topical use, the oil should be added to a base cream and rubbed into the soles of the feet or directly to the afflicted region of the body. For internal use, one drop of black pepper oil can be combined with 4 oz. of fluid.
When combined with basil oil, black pepper oil is an effective warming liniment for joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis. Black pepper oil can be used in very small quantities to treat a fever and can also provide pain relief when applied directly to a toothache, similar to clove oil.
Black pepper oil should always be diluted before applying to the skin in case of sensitivity or allergic reaction. This oil may exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis and it should not be overused as it may overstimulate the kidneys. Users should not apply black pepper oil before bedtime.
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