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15 December 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Black Pepper Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

This classic spice has been considered a valuable remedy since the time of Hippocrates.

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Whole black peppercorns in a bowl.

Perhaps the best known spice in the world, black pepper’s earliest uses are recorded in India, China and Madagascar.

While the black pepper spice may be famous for its properties as a flavouring agent, its other, more medicinal, benefits are still largely unknown - despite its rich history in ancient societies pointing to these remarkable purposes.

Science has only recently caught up to what black pepper can really do for us on a health level, so time will only tell how much is left to be discovered about this common little spice.

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What is Black Pepper Essential Oil?

Unlike its solid or ground counterpart, black pepper oil won’t make you sneeze – but rather can fill your home with a pleasantly spicy scent to warm you from within.

Sometimes referred to by the botanical name Piper Nigrum, black pepper oil is native to southern India and Indonesia and has been extracted from the same areas for over 2000 years.

The dried fruits of the black peppercorn vine are harvested and steam distilled to produce a yellow or green essential oil with a rich aroma – akin to that of the peppercorns themselves.

Black pepper essential oil is not to be confused with the less common  which comes from the same family but is ultimately entirely different in scent and plant origin.

What are the benefits of Black Pepper Essential Oil?

While research is still developing on how black pepper can ultimately affect us on a biological level, there are many core benefits that have been utilised for centuries and continue to grow in significance.

These benefits include:

  • Pain management
  • Improving IBS symptoms and aiding digestion
  • Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Easing anxiety
  • Detoxifying the body

Black peppercorns in a bowl (2).

Can black pepper essential oil help manage pain?

Black pepper oil has a warming effect that can help soothe aching muscles and other related injuries to joints or tendons.

Not only that, but black pepper also has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties - both of which allow it to calm aches and pains and relax tense muscles throughout the body.

A found that black pepper oil was particularly useful for those with neck pain, leading to an improvement in symptoms when applied topically.

It’s important to note that before black pepper oil is applied to the skin it should always be diluted with a carrier oil.

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Does black pepper improve IBS symptoms and aid digestion?

Depending on the dosage, it’s been found that black pepper oil can, oddly enough, have either spasmodic or antispasmodic effects.

Antispasmodic oils can help to calm tense muscles and spasms in the body, helping to reduce painful cramps, while spasmodic oils can stimulate the muscles into action.

This means that not only can black pepper help to relieve gut pain by relaxing tense muscles, but in a different dosage, it can help with the uncomfortable feelings of constipation. Black pepper oil can also have antidiarrheal effects.

All the digestion-soothing abilities of black pepper can be attributed to the presence of the compound piperine.

A found that rats with IBS and severe symptoms of low mood showed a significant improvement in both conditions after being given piperine.

There is evidence that serotonin plays a role in the abnormal brain-gut signalling that may cause IBS, explaining why the two conditions are often linked. The fact that piperine can apparently help treat both is a very exciting discovery.

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Using black pepper to lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Another rat study, this time in , found that rats fed a high-fat diet showed a decrease in levels of cholesterol and fatty acids after being fed black pepper.

It’s also been shown by a that the piperine in black pepper may be able to lower blood pressure. These two conditions often go hand in hand – again, black pepper oil proves itself as a fantastically simple home remedy for both.

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Is black pepper essential oil good for easing cigarette cravings?

A slightly more unusual benefit, black pepper oil is said to help ease anxiety and cravings in smokers attempting to quit or going through withdrawal.

A published in a journal about substance dependence found that inhaling black pepper oil can suppress the craving for cigarettes as well as other withdrawal symptoms including headaches and irritability.

Subjects in the experimental group found that their cravings were significantly lessened compared to the control group, and negative effects and symptoms of anxiety were also lessened in the black pepper group, once again showing that black pepper is effective at tackling all sides of a condition.

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Black pepper oil can help detoxify the body

Black pepper is said to have “bio transformative” effects that lend themselves to effective detoxification of the body.

This means that inhaling or topically applying black pepper may assist in removing harmful toxins from the body as well as fighting off free radicals that could lead to more severe health complications.

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How to use Black Pepper Essential Oil

Aromatherapy

The classically spicy and undoubtedly warming aromas of black pepper can provide a pleasant backdrop in the kitchen or other culinary spaces to encourage appetite. Inhaling black pepper oil can also help to ease anxieties.

Bath

Alternatively, you can sprinkle a few drops of black pepper essential oil into your bath for a relaxing, stress-relieving experience that can soothe both the body and the mind.

This practice is particularly useful if you’re experiencing pain as a result of muscle aches or abdominal issues.

Massage

Combining some black pepper essential oil with a carrier oil and applying it to painful muscles or joints is a great way to ease discomfort and encourage warmth.

This same technique can be used on the abdomen to reduce painful cramping caused by IBS or other related stomach issues.

Candle and soap making

If you’re wanting to add a spicy note to your candles, soaps, or other scent-related projects, then black pepper could be a great choice for an extra kick.

We always recommend following a tested recipe before using any essential oils in project making.

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History of Black Pepper Essential Oil

The black pepper spice was so valuable in the ancient world that it was used as currency amongst the Ancient Romans, and as a sign of power and wealth amongst the Greeks.

However, many people, including Hippocrates, were concerned that the expensiveness of the spice overshadowed its medicinal value. Their worries weren’t misplaced – even today, many people simply don’t know about the myriad of benefits that black pepper oil can have.

Black pepper was particularly useful during the Middle Ages in Europe for preserving meats as well as overcoming odours and was a major factor in the spice trade for centuries.

    Hippocrates probably would have been pleased to know the advances that are being made in the medical application of black pepper oil.

    For example, it was recently suggested that black pepper’s pigment production-boosting effects could help to treat the skin condition vitiligo.

    This research is far from complete, but the future of black pepper oil in both aromatherapy and medicine definitely looks exciting.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Black Pepper Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Piper Nigrum
    Scent Type Spices
    Benefits & Uses Pain Relief, Calming, Lowers Blood Pressure
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this black pepper essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this black pepper essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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