Digging Deeper Into Herbs and Oils, Wellness, Witchy Gypsy Oils

Digging Deeper: Black Peppercorn

Thanks for joining us! Who’s ready to dig deeper into Black Peppercorn?

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Black Peppercorn
(Piper nigrum)

This is a spice that we totally take for granted, y’all.

What sits on every table?

Salt and Pepper.

We should know how lucky we are. These two basic spices have a history that has literally shaped the world. Army’s have fought over it. Cities have been established by it. For a while, it was even used as currency.

History

Archaeological evidence shows that black pepper was used as a seasoning in India as early as 2000 BCE.

Exportation brought it to Egypt, where it was used as a spice and as a medicine. Containers of peppercorns have been found in Egyptian tombs, and they were even found in the nostrils of Ramses II who was mummified in 1213 BCE. Egyptians were early users of toothpaste, which they made from rock salt, dried iris flowers, black pepper, and mint. Cleopatra is said to have had skin lotions made with black pepper.

With exploration came the spread of black pepper to the Roman Empire, where it was considered so valuable that large quantities were stored in the Roman treasury. The first century Roman cookbook, Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome by Apicius, featured recipes in which 80% of them called for black pepper. Pliny the Elder (25-79 CE) could not understand the reason for pepper’s popularity. He remarked, “Whereas pepper has nothing in it that can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or berry, its only desirable quality being a certain pungency; and yet it is for this that we import it all the way from India!” Romans used black pepper as a treatment for digestive problems and gas relief. They also used it as currency. When Alaric the Visigoth laid siege to Rome around 400 CE, he demanded a ransom of three thousand pounds of black pepper, along with gold and silver. 

After the fall of Rome, the Persians and then the Arabs were in control of the spice trade. They created fantastic, frightening stories about where pepper grew in order to scare other traders away from the source of black pepper. Their trade created a new empire – the city states of Venice and Genoa. The black pepper trade was responsible, in part, for the wealth of these two cities that sold the commodity to the rest of Europe. 

Due to the high cost of trading between Europe and India, black pepper and other spices became a luxury and a symbol of wealth, as the taste for flavored foods and a belief in the medicinal qualities of spices grew.  Again, it was also used as currency: a pound of black pepper could free a serf, and many a young maiden was married with a black pepper dowry.

Read more at https://herbsocietyblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/01/black-pepper-herb-of-the-month/

You bet your ass it has magical and medicinal properties.

For starters, let’s look at what makes this plant so special. I definitely can not grow it in my garden. Anything below 65 degrees (Farenheight) and these plants just say no. If the world fell apart, we could probably grow it in a greenhouse but the temperature and humidity levels would have to be held to a fairly strict dance.

That’s because these plants don’t just like it HOT, they like it HUMID. They also like frequent heavy rainfall so Texas is just out, y’all. Traditionally black pepper grows in countries like India, Indonesia, and Brazil where it is interspersed with shade crops like coffee.

I mean, it makes sense. Coffee is kinda magical, too.

KITCHEN WITCHERY WITH BLACK PEPPER

Black Pepper in our modern day usage is often just within the realm of extra seasoning and cooking.  Even in our daily uses, the Black Pepper is an unsung hero that can be used to help enhance or even to save a dish from blandness.  Now in this particular piece, we will be talking about Black Peppers, but in terms of magic, we do treat the related Peppercorn members as similar in magical practice.  If a ritual calls for Black Peppercorns and you only have White Pepper powder or Pink Peppercorns, you can substitute it out within reason. The only thing you might avoid is substituting Red Chili Peppers for Peppercorns as they are different families and have slightly different purposes.  

Peppercorns have such a rich background in our history as they have been cultivated for so long and played such an intricate role in the cuisines of the world.  Thanks to the spice trade from the East to the European countries, Black Pepper was introduced, not only as a spice but also as a traditional medicine and magic.  

Now in terms of what you can use for Black Peppercorn, we have the fruit of the plant, of course we have the powder of the fruit, and some people will use the essential oil of the Black Peppercorn.  When using this ingredient, please do be careful as the powder can cause sneezing and anything that is spicy should avoid contact with the eyes. For the essential oil, while it is not as strong on the skin as say Cinnamon, you should still dilute it or exercise caution around the idea of having it on topically.  

Magically this plant is associated with the energy of Mars and fiery magic as expected since this herb tastes spicy.  Now depending on the cultural magic, it can be used in a variety of ways but tends to have, by Mars’s providence, more of an aggressive energy to it, both retaliatory and protective.  

If you feel like you have been in a bad situation or just have off energy around you, you can burn a small pinch of Black Pepper with other herbs for cleansing on top of charcoal.  Some rituals will call for a freestanding candle to be studded with Black Peppercorns as a way to remove or reverse negative energy. If you do not have a freestanding candle, you can always add a few pieces to your candle with the same effect, although studding it can lead to some fun designs, though it can be difficult if you don’t have the right tools. 

Now a common companion with Black Pepper, both in cooking and sometimes magic, is Salt.  A work to keep disliked people from visiting your home involves the act of throwing Salt and Black Pepper on the places they walked, especially the places where their feet touch around the door as they were exiting.  You can also follow this work up by cleansing your space with your choice of burning herbs, and some traditions also recommend sprinkling the mixture around the home and sweeping it up with a broom to chase out their energy.  

With Black Peppers power over us as one of the most traded spices in the world, it’s no wonder why it still holds a place in our kitchens and our altars.  Hopefully when you need to chase some nasty energy out of your home, instead of grabbing just a piece of Sage to cleanse them out, also reach for the Salt and Pepper Shakers too.

Read more at https://houseofintuitionla.com/blogs/news/kitchen-witchery-with-black-pepper

All magic aside, this spice is still pretty magical. In a medicinal sense, of course. One of the coolest things that I ever learned about black pepper is that it actually increases the bio-availability of other nutrients. That’s why you so often see it paired with things like turmeric.

Pungent herbs have been shown to generally enhance the absorption of drugs in humans and animals due to increased blood perfusion of the gastrointestinal mucosa with increased local circulation and enhanced digestive secretions. For example, the pungent alkaloid piperine found in the two peppers of the trikatu combination (black pepper (Piper nigrum) fruit, long pepper (Piper longum) fruit, and ginger (Zingiber officinale) root) increases absorption of curcumin,phenytoin,propranolol, theophylline.

– Francis Brinker, 2010 AHG Proceedings

Of course, it works with more than just turmeric so eating pepper with every meal is a phenomenal idea.

Be aware that those little jars of ground pepper probably aren’t going to be very helpful to you. The aromatics, and medicinal benefits, tend to evaporate fairly quickly. Instead find whole peppercorns.

Also, invest in a pepper grinder. Sure you can buy the little throw away grinders that line every box store spice shelf, but let’s honor the history of this spice a bit and give it something fancy.

Peppercorns and Grinder are Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

Now that we have properly sourced and honored the pepper, let’s talk about adding it to our apothecary.

Parts Used: berries

Energetics: heating, acrid

Plant Properties: stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant, carminative, antispasmodic, antioxidant, antimicrobial

Plant Uses: food seasoning, fevers, mucus congestion, slow or stagnant circulation, hemorrhoids, gentle laxative, arthritis, increases bio-availability of other herbs

Plant Preparations: food spice, tea, tincture, electuary

Read more at https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/black-pepper-health-benefits.html

We should slow down a second. What do those properties mean exactly?

A stimulant is any substance with the ability to energize and stimulate the physiological processes of the body. The term can also be applied to herbs that stimulate a specific bodily function such as circulatory stimulants and digestive stimulants.

As a gastric stimulant it is a useful addition to difficultly-digestible foods, as fatty and mucilaginous matters, especially in persons subject to stomach complaints from a torpid or atonic condition of this viscus.

– Jonathan Pereira 
The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Vol. II, 3th American ed., 1853

A diaphoretic promotes sweating.

An expectorant assists in the production and elimination of mucus or bronchial secretions from the throat and lungs.

  A remedy from New England that also appears in Chinese folk medicine is pepper (Piper nigrum). The irritating properties of pepper stimulate circulation and the flow of mucous. It is most appropriate for a cough with thick mucous, but inappropriate for a dry, irritable cough with little expectoration. Directions: Place a teaspoon of black pepper and a tablespoon of honey in the bottom of a cup, and fill it with boiling water. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Take small sips as needed.  

– Paul Bergner, Folk Remedies Database

Carminatives help to relieve gas. They have anit-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects that halt the muscle spasms responsible for producing gas.

Antispasmodic describes herbs that prevent or relieve spasms or cramps in the muscles. They relax the nerves but do not necessarily have sedative effects as they typically do not relax the central nervous system.

Antioxidants inhibit oxidation and the damaging effects associated with it. What is oxidation? To put it in the simplest terms, let’s do an experiment. Have you ever bitten an apple and then let it sit for a bit only to have it turn brown? That’s oxidation!

Antimicrobial describes herbs that assist the body in destroying and inhibiting the growth of numerous pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This classification can be further broken down into herbs that are anitbacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic.

Black Pepper Health Benefits

  • Its hot and stimulating characteristics make it useful for a variety of cold and flu symptoms such as for fevers with chills (stimulating diaphoretic) and for mucus congestion (stimulating expectorant).
  • Black pepper quickens the circulation by increasing blood vessel size and was used for signs of stagnant circulation (such as cold hands and feet) and for arthritic pain. 
  • Eclectic herbalist Harvey Felter recommended it as a corrigent (companion) for herbs that cause griping or cramping (such as cold laxatives). 
  • Pepper promotes digestion and is said to have a gentle laxative effect,  especially for those with signs of cold or stagnant digestion. 
  • However, if someone has diarrhea, especially with symptoms of coldness or due to an infection, black pepper has been shown to be effective. 

Read more at https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/black-pepper-health-benefits.html

Just like many plants can be turned into teas and tinctures, black pepper can also be distilled down to an essential oil. This concentrates its volatile oils down into something really powerful that only requires a drop or two for use.

Black pepper is the most common and potent flavoring of the peppercorn family. Add this cherished seasoning to your kitchen with a convenient bottle of Black Pepper Vitality.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is one of the most popular spices in the world. Its distinctive flavor makes it a common addition to many recipes, from appetizers to entrees. Use Young Living’s Black Pepper Vitality™ essential oil to spice up your favorite soup, rub, or marinade recipes. Black Pepper Vitality can replace ground black pepper.

Black Pepper Vitality Essential Oil Uses:

  • Add 1–2 drops of Black Pepper Vitality and 2 drops of V-6™ Vegetable Oil Complex to a vegetarian gel capsule and take daily as a dietary supplement or as needed.
  • Use in marinades and rubs for pork, beef, poultry, or seafood or add to roasted vegetables or homemade salad dressings.
  • Add to a salsa fresca or guacamole for a quick way to spice up Mexican favorites.
  • Use to flavor pasta, rice, mashed potatoes, and deli salads.

Used by the Egyptians in mummification, as evidenced by the discovery of black pepper in the nostrils and abdomen of Ramses II. Indian monks ate several black peppercorns a day to give them endurance during their arduous travels. In ancient times pepper was as valuable as gold or silver. When the barbarian Goth tribes of Europe vanquished Rome in 410 AD, they demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper as well as other valuables as a ransom. Traditional Chinese healers used pepper to treat cholera, malaria, and digestive problems.

Medical Properties: Analgesic, stimulates metabolism, antifungal

Uses: Obesity, arthritis, digestive problems, fatigue, nerve/muscle pain, fungal infections, tobacco cessation

Fragrant Influence: Stimulating, energizing, and empowering. A 2002 study found that fragrance inhalation of pepper oil induced a 1.7-fold increase in plasma adrenaline concentration.

Directions:
Aromatic: Diffuse up to 30 minutes 3 times daily or directly inhale.
Topical: Dilute 1 drop essential oil with 1 drop V-6 or other pure carrier oil and apply on location, chakras, and/or Vita Flex points.
Dietary: Dilute 1 drop with 1 drop carrier oil. Put in a capsule and take up to 3 times daily.

Excerpted from The Essential Oils Desk Reference, 7th Edition, page 71


Thank you for digging deeper into Black Peppercorn with me. I am very passionate about herbs, oils, and the education of their uses.

Please remember that essential oils are very concentrated products and should never be ingested unless specifically labeled for such use.

If you are not already a member of Witchy Gypsy Oils, I invite you to find out more information about the benefits of membership by clicking HERE.

This month only (August 2020) receive a free 5ml bottle of Black Pepper Vitality with any order of 190PV!!!

Also, be on the look out for future posts in this Digging Deeper Educational Series. A great way to stay in touch is to hit the Follow button at the bottom of the page.

Finally, the obligatory disclaimer.

I am not a doctor. None of the statements included in this post have been approved by the FDA or any other cool acronym known agency. It is Young Living’s official stance that they and these products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any specific disease or illness. Young Living Independent Distributor #14632733

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