Botanical Name: Piper nigrum
Part Used: Dried Fruit
Process: Steam Distillation
Summary: Black Pepper is an important spice whose use, both culinary and medicinal, dates back more than 4000 years. In aromatherapy, Black Pepper is a strong antiviral and antibacterial oil. In perfumery, Black Pepper is quite a tenacious middle note that provides a unique and interesting effect in oriental compositions and when combined in very small amounts with certain florals such as rose, carnation or ylang ylang.
Plant Description: Native to southern areas of India and Vietnam; also grown in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Madagascar and Egypt. Often distilled in the US and Europe. For commercial purposes, plants are best propagated by cuttings grown at the base of trees with rough irregular bark, allowing the woody vines to reach a height of 12-15 feet. The plant has heart shaped leaves and small white flowers arranged on elongated spikes that produce green fruits or berries. When the berries begin to mature and turn red, they are collected, dried in the sun (turning black) and crushed prior to distillation.
Oil Description: The essential oil of Black Pepper is piquant, stimulating and invigorating.
Historical/Traditional Uses: Black Pepper is one of the oldest known and most important of spices. It was used by the Egyptians in the mummification process. The Romans valued it greatly and imported large quantities from the East. Monks of India, who traveled long distances on foot, ingested a few peppercorns a day to maintain their endurance. Black Pepper was a highly valued commodity along the ancient overland spice routes throughout the Middle Ages. European spice traders eventually found an all-water route to India toward the end of the 15th century, allowing the modern spice trade to flourish.
Applications (Uses and Indications): In aromatherapy, Black Pepper is a strong antiviral and antibacterial oil useful for arthritis, muscular aches and pains, sprains, joint inflammation, catarrh, constipation, colic, diarrhea, nausea, colds, flu, viruses. Inhaling the aroma is useful for mental fatigue. Can also be indicated for loss of appetite and indigestion, and to stimulate circulation. In perfumery, Black Pepper is quite a tenacious middle note that provides a unique and interesting effect in oriental compositions and when combined in very small amounts with certain florals such as rose, carnation or ylang ylang.
Contraindications (Safety and Precautions): Black Pepper essential oil is non-toxic and non-sensitizing but in high concentrations can cause skin irritation; best avoided during pregnancy. This oil interferes with or negates homeopathic treatment – do not use both at the same time.
Standard Safety Precautions: Always dilute essential oils before using. Keep essential oils out of the eyes and mucous membranes; in case of contact, DO NOT use water, instead place a drop or two of vegetable oil on a tissue to gently wipe out of eye or off area of contact. In severe cases, seek professional help immediately. Keep out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, call 911 immediately.
Essential oils are not to be taken internally unless under the direction of a trained and licensed aromatherapist. Know how to safely use essential oils and what oils are to be avoided: that contraindicate homeopathic, prescription and OTC medications; that can trigger skin sensitivities or allergic reactions; during pregnancy and while nursing; that are not to be used by those with a history of epilepsy, diabetes, or other health issues such as high or low blood pressure; that are not to be used before exposure to sunlight; that are to be used with extreme caution or avoided altogether.